Morningside Library finally set to re-open

Author Alexander McCall Smith with Kyle Thomas and Emi Munoz at the refurbished library in 2011. Picture: Gareth Easton

Author Alexander McCall Smith with Kyle Thomas and Emi Munoz at the refurbished library in 2011. Picture: Gareth Easton

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A LIBRARY forced to close due to a serious outbreak of dry rot is set to reopen next month – a year on from the crisis.

Morningside Library was shut down amid major concerns about the fungi spreading throughout the building.

Investigations carried out then unearthed large stretches of dry rot.

The discovery came less than a year after a £1 million major revamp at the facility, which saw repairs to the roof and belltower as well as improvements to its interior.

But the building had to be closed again after the fungal growth was uncovered.

The library, which ran temporary mobile services from a unit at Falcon Road West, is now set to reopen on ­December 6.

Community watchdogs previously expressed “puzzlement” at the closure coming so soon after a major ­refurbishment and eyebrows were raised over why the rot was only discovered after work had concluded.

Steve Gregory, secretary of Morningside Community Council, the library was “very well used” and welcomed its reopening.

“Library and council staff have done their best to keep the service running via the mobile library,” he said. “It’s not the same, though, and it can’t possibly be, with the best will in the world.

“We are delighted to finally get a date for the reopening.”

It is understood the dry rot was treated with chemicals while sections of wall were stripped back to clear the fungi. Drainage improvements were also put in place.

Mr Gregory added: “There was a lot of work that needed to be done – it was a big job – but there was no question it was going to open again.”

Councillor Norma Austin Hart, the city’s culture vice-convener, said work to treat dry rot had given rise to an opportunity to carry out ­additional improvements.

She said: “We’re very much looking forward to Morningside Library reopening next month and will be delighted to welcome the local community back to the library.

“I’d like to thank everyone for their patience while we completed the work.

“During the past year, there has been a significant programme of work undertaken to address the dry rot in the building.

“But we’ve also used this opportunity to introduce improvements inside the library in response to the feedback we’ve received.”

Morningside Library was once thought to have been one of the busiest in Europe and has many real-life links with literary fiction.

A young Muriel Spark spent hours in the stacks, selecting poetry she thought would please teacher Miss Kay, her inspiration for novel The Pride of Miss Jean Brodie.

Edinburgh children’s author, Aileen Paterson also wrote about her popular creation Maisie the Cat, who features on Lothian buses, having some fun at the venue.

david.mccann@edinburghnews.com