Exhibition marks Newtongrange Library’s 50 years

Newtongrange Library exhibition
Newtongrange Library exhibition

Newtongrange Library is celebrating its 50th birthday with a new exhibition focusing on the history of the old mining village.

The exhibition was put together by the Newtongrange Reminiscence Group to mark the library’s half century.

Jacqui Elliot, head librarian at Newtongrange Library, believes it is as popular now as it has ever been.

She said:“The change in libraries over the last 5o years has been quite dramatic. Fifty years ago public libraries were perceived as stuffy, silent places where chat and laughter were not actively encouraged!

“In some respects the old libraries were quite forbidding and it was a bit like going into a church, everybody whispering and few kids. By contrast, libraries today offer a whole range of diverse activities for all age groups and interests.

“I think our visitor figures speak for themselves – 37,000, with yearly inquiries around 24,000.

“We have time set aside for toddlers with games and story readings. Our computers are very much in demand and all in all people seem to be satisfied with the service we are providing but we are always interested in listening to new ideas from all library users.

“Newtongrange Library is the ‘hub’ of the local community, providing access to a variety of services, groups and information.”

The exhibition consists of old photos, maps, documents and other memorabilia relating to the history of the village, its many organisations,institutions and traditions, such as the Children’s Gala, the Dean Tavern Trust, the Pipe and Silver Bands, Star FC, and the great individuals from the past.

Local historian Jim Green, chairman of the Newtongrange Reminiscence Group, highlighted the significance of the exhibition.

He said: “During the ’70s, Newtongrange was almost on the verge of extinction. There were over 100 houses boarded up because of the condition of them.

“Then when Lady Victoria pit closed, it seemed like the end of the village. But it’s now thriving, which is great to see.

“So we decided to look back on the village’s history to mark the library’s 50 years.”