Kelso's Places

Kelso Library

Past and Present

Kelso Library is one of the Scottish Borders libraries integrated with the Council’s Customer services department and operates as Kelso Library and Contact Centre.

A Brief History

The First Library

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.

The Current Library

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.

Messrs Peddie & Washington Browne, the appointed architects, had also designed the Edinburgh Central Public Library on George IV Bridge.

Extensive celebrations took place in May 2006 on the centenary anniversary of the opening of the Library. As a legacy of the celebrations a centenary garden was opened in 2007. In October 2012, as a result of regional organisation change Kelso Library was one of the Scottish Borders libraries integrated with the Council’s Customer services department and is now operated as Kelso Library and Contact Centre.

Learn more in the History of Kelso Library (PDF)

Kelso Public Library Opening Ceremony
by Dr. Morrison, 16th May 1906

The upper floor was the librarians residence.
The railings were removed during World War 2.

More than just books...

Friends of Kelso Library

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.

Kelso Library

Kelso Library Contact Centre

Address: Bowmont Street, Kelso, TD5 7JH Phone: 01573 223171 Website:

Opening Times:
Monday and Thursday 10:00am-5:00pm
Tuesday 1:00pm - 7:00pm
Wednesday 10:00am - 2:00pm
Friday 10:00am-4:00pm
Saturday 9:30am-12:30pm