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In 1885 the trustees of the late James Moffat met to discuss the style of buildings which would be constructed for the new public library.Mr Moffat, merchant of Port Glasgow bequeathed the sum of £3,000 for the task and asked that the town council should secure ground on which to build.
The town for many years had "reading rooms" within the town buildings but it was not until the completion of the Moffat Library in King Street in February 1887 that the town had it's first public library.
The building housed a lending library,reading-room, billiard room and caretakers house the principal entrance being from King Street. The early caretaker and librarian of the building was Mr Hugh Beck from Ardrie, Lanarkshire.
The contractors of the various works were Mr James Taylor - Glasgow, mason work: Mr C. F. Stewart, Greenock - joiner work: Messrs Wilson & McFarlane, Port-Glasgow - plumbing work: Messrs P. McBride & Co., Port-Glasgow - plaster work: Mr N Gillespie, Port Glasgow - Slater work: and Messrs J. Cormack & Sons, Glasgow - heating. Mr Robert Guthrie, Greenock, acted as inspector of works.
The description of the buildings below comes from press reports at the time of opening sadly have no images of the building or interior.
The lending library, which is on the ground floor in an apartment thirty feet long and twenty-four feet six inches, the principal entrance being by a handsome porch from King Street.
A lift for conveying books to reading-room is provided. On the ground floor is also the caretaker's house, with good accommodation. The kitchen for the use of the Town Hall and cellar are placed in the basement. The staircase is in the north end of the building and is entered through the large arched doorway from the street. The reading room is on the upper floor and is forty-seven feet long by twenty-four feet six inches broad. The roof is open-timbered and measures twenty-two feet to the ceiling. The billiard and smoking rooms are also on this floor. At the back of the building over the Lesser Town Hall, lavatory accommodation is conveniently provided for these rooms, entering from the staircase. The light to the window in end wall of the Town Hall has been secured by a well, in which is placed a roof-light, to the Lesser Town Hall.
The buildings had cost a little over £1,600 and tribute was paid to the workmanship on the building and to the various tradesmen who had been engaged with it at the opening on 16th February 1887 - an event that was attended by many local business men, Bailie's and ex-Bailies and local church leaders who enjoyed the opening night with a cake and wine banquet served up in the reading-room by Mr J. P. Paterson, of the Victoria Restaurant.
In the first year the library reported that membership was sitting at 344, this included 93 apprentices admitted by ticket from the shipbuilders who had previously sent contributions to the Town Library. The amount raised from subscriptions in that year was £45. Money had also been raised from the sale of old books and with interest of £36 from the trusts funds made the income of the library for the first year just under £100 although the trust was concerned about the taxes of £14 yearly which they had to pay. Entrance to the billiard room was a penny a visit.
Mr John Anderson, banker; Mrs Somerville, Aldergrove; MR D.R McClelland, town, clerk; Mr James McCubbin, gas manager; Mr Wm. Lees, teacher; Mr W T Lithgow, shipbuilder ; Mr Robert Duncan,- shipbuilder ; Mrs Murray, Broadfield; The Dowager Countess of Dalhousie; Mr John M. Patten, London; Mr James Turner, Dundee ; Co-Operative Society, Limited, Princes Street; and Sir Charles Tupper. The committee have also received The Machinery Market monthly from the proprietors; The Co-operative Society, from the societies; The Bailie weekly from Mr John Gibb, bookseller ; Funny Folks weekly from Mr John McIntosh, bookseller; and The Woman's Suffrage .Journal monthly from the editor, which were duly acknowledged and the donors thanked.
The library was in operation for nearly 70 years - in 1930 the library was merged with the Rural Country Libraries and celebrated its first year as a county branch in 1931.
This page last modified on Tuesday, February 22, 2011