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I was invited in July 2003 to write a foreword to Robert Bain’s book. I accepted immediately. I responded quickly because this was a first; something I’d never been asked to do before. However, the most important reason I agreed was that I felt a book on the history of Wick Library was long overdue.

Who am I? Well in simple terms I am an interested observer, although I also consider myself a custodian of the library service. I am employed by the Highland Council, the library authority, as an Area Culture and Sport Manager for both Caithness and Sutherland. My responsibilities include swimming pools, sports pitches, sports development, arts development, galleries, museums, and libraries--- of which there are three in Caithness: Wick, Thurso and the much-valued mobile.

It is often said if things could talk, what a story they’d have to tell. This must be particularly so with buildings. Imagine the scenes they witness daily, and what has occurred within their walls over many years.

The Andrew Carnegie Library in Wick has a long and interesting history, which has stimulated Robert, a library assistant with an interest in local history, to investigate, research and eventually record that history. This small but informative book is the result.

This book has come about at a significant point in the life of the library. We currently sit on the edge of technological revolution in terms of information sharing and dissemination. For many years we have enjoyed books, magazines, periodicals and such; indeed, the world "library” has become synonymous with a collection of books, yet open the doors to any public library these days and you will be amazed!

Yes, books by the hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands if the branch is a large one. But not only papers, magazines, story tapes, talking books, even videos and DVD’s plus a host of learning materials. In addition, we also have computers providing free public access to the World Wide Web.

Whilst some of our more traditional library users may find these developments a shock---they are all true to the spirit in which public libraries were founded, “to expand peoples literacy and knowledge, irrespective of their means and place in society.” (Andrew Carnegie)

Where do we go next? Well as I’ve said we are on the edge of the next development--- so I am not sure where. What I am certain of is that our libraries will continue to adapt, to remain relevant to the communities they serve, and to aim to provide valuable services to the entire community.

Whilst this book is complete in that it is a book, it is really a collection of chapters in the life of the Wick Library, which will continue to add to its own story long after our passing.

Enjoy the story so far, and be sure to visit the library. You’ve read the story, now become part of it!

Graham Nichols,


I would like to thank the following people.

Sheila Mather, Senior Library Assistant, Wick Library.

Phil Astley, Archivist, North Highland Archives, Wick Library.

Gail Inglis, Archivist Assistant, North Highland Archives, Wick Library.

Graham Nichols, Caithness & Sutherland, Area Manager, Community Learning and Leisure, Highland Council.

Tom Bryan, Caithness Arts Development Officer, Highland Council.

Norman Newton, Senior Librarian, Information Co-ordinator, Highland Libraries, Library Support Unit, Inverness, Highland Council.

The Reference Department of Inverness Library.

The Archives Department based in Inverness Library.

Dornoch Library.

The John O’Groat Journal (North of Scotland Newspapers)

David Morrison, retired Librarian of Wick Library.

Jack Glass, son of the late John Glass.

Garry and Duncan Robertson, children of the late Fred W. Robertson.

Stuart Usher, great grandson of Sir John Usher.

Andrew Bethune, of the Edinburgh Room, Central Library, George VI Bridge, Edinburgh.

Edinburgh City Libraries, The City of Edinburgh Council, Culture & Leisure – Libraries & information Services.

Trudi Mann, retired Assistant Archivist and former Senior Library Assistant of Wick Library.

Mrs Joan Slater, granddaughter of the late John Mowat.

Lorna Owers, the Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum, Dunfermline.

Iain Harper, Liverpool.

And finally to all our customers who come into the library.

Foreword & Acknowledgements
Chapter 1  Libraries in Wick and Pulteneytown before 1887
Chapter 2 1887 – 1891
Chapter 3 1891 – 1900
Chapter 4 1900 – 1930
Chapter 5 1930 – 1975
Chapter 6 1975 – Present
Chapter 7 Librarians
Photo Gallery