Opened in 1750 Kelso Library was one of the earliest municipal libraries in Scotland. This library was a subscription library; these were propriety libraries whereby people paid a subscription to join and also an annual membership fee. In return the members were supplied with the works of the best authors, and the various periodical publications of the day. It also had a coffee house and was ‘regularly supplied with the London, Edinburgh and Kelso news papers’. The library moved to Chalkheugh terrace in 1795, to the building that is now the British Legion, The librarian besides a salary had a very commodious dwelling- house in the lower part of the building and a large garden in front of it.
In the early part of the twentieth century, as a result of a donation from Andrew Carnegie, extensive fundraising in the town and the efforts of the Town Council a ‘free library and reading room’ was opened in Bowmont Street in 1906. A condition of the donation from Andrew Carnegie was that the Free Libraries Act had to be adopted.
Friends of Kelso Library was formed in 2005 by a group of enthusiastic library users to support the library. Since then they have provided funding for Saturday newspapers, children’s activities and the purchase of local books. Find out more in Friends of Kelso Library.