1825 Depiction of Robert Leighton by A.M. Warren

The Leighton Library was founded in 1688 through the will of Robert Leighton (1611-1684), former Bishop of Dunblane and Archbishop of Glasgow, and is thought to be the oldest purpose-built library in Scotland. It still houses the Archbishop’s books today, with many additional works accrued slowly in its almost 150-year history as a lending library. After extensive refurbishment, the library reopened in 1989 as a museum and can still be visited by the public today (more details)

During this refurbishment, the library went into partnership with the University of Stirling, whose online catalogue now includes all the works housed in the library. The University also stores the library’s archival records which, along with its books, can be ordered into the research room at the University by students and members of the public alike (more details)

Academic interest in the library has focused on the works which belonged to Leighton himself (often heavily annotated) and the early history of the library. This project aims to highlight the continuing history of the library and its place at the heart of Dunblane life in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Originally intended for “poor clergy” of Dunblane, in 1734 its trustees opened use of the library to anyone able to pay a yearly subscription. This project explores the library lives of those users, using local and family history sources in conjunction with the records of their borrowings from the Leighton Library through archives held at the University of Stirling. For more on the project, see the introductory blog post.

This project has been funded by the Scottish Graduate School of Arts & Humanities as part of the Scottish Universities Research Collections Associate Scheme 2016 Pilot.

Further Reading

Allan, J. Malcolm (1985) Only my books – Archbishop Leighton’s bequests. Stirling: University of Stirling Bibliographical Society.

Barty, Alexander B. (1994) The history of Dunblane. New edition. Stirling: Stirling District Libraries

Willis, Gordon (1981) Catalogue of manuscripts: Leighton Library, University of Stirling Bibliographical Society.

Willis, Gordon (1981) ‘The Leighton Library, Dunblane: its history and contents’, The bibliotheck 10 (6)