AN HISTORIC public library is to be trialled as a children’s library under new proposals put forward by East Lothian Council.

The plans for Prestonpans Library are set out in a public consultation over services launched this week.

Prestonpans Library was built in 1905 through funds from Scottish philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.

People in Prestonpans raised the money to buy 3,000 books to fill their library when it first opened.

In 2017, the council scrapped plans to move council services into the building after a public outcry from families.

But a year later, they went ahead and moved some council services into the library without public consultation.

Now, as part of a library review which has been launched online, the council has outlined its vision for the library’s future.

It said: “When we look at our library usage, a higher percentage of borrowers at Prestonpans Library are children. It is well used by children as it hosts a lot of class visits.

“We would like to see that library specialise as a children’s library to support more vulnerable children and families, and provide a quiet environment for those children who suffer from autism.

“We would wish to see this as a pilot with the possibility of good practice being used in other areas of the county.

“We want to make better use of this library, which would still be available for general public use on certain days.”

The public consultation on library services in East Lothian is running on the council’s hub this month and calls for people to share with the local authority the services that they want to see more of and use.

It is looking at all libraries, with additional questions for people about their plans for Prestonpans.

Councillor Jim Goodfellow, cabinet member for community wellbeing, said: “The public library service has evolved greatly in recent years and is no longer simply about books and buildings but a service at the very heart of local communities.

“We are keen to hear from people what they enjoy and like about their local library and also what they would like to see added or improved.”

Mr Goodfellow said that services ranged from borrowing of books and films to IT assistance for using PCs and online services.

During lockdown, all 12 council libraries closed completely for four months and, while four part-time libraries have remained closed, eight reopened offering a  mixture of browsing and a click and collect service with reduced opening hours.

The council said that its physical adult library loans had fallen to less than half the number of the previous year, while the borrowing of e-books, e-newspapers and e-magazines had more than doubled.

Mr Goodfellow said: “We know during periods of lockdown that families missed the popular Bookbug sessions for babies and young childrenm and the reintroduction of these booked up very quickly.

“It may be that people are seeking libraries to plan and hold more of these sessions. Others may wish more events such as book clubs or author visits.

“If you are a regular visitor or haven’t been to a local library for some time, we are keen to hear your views.”

The consultation is available online at and paper copies are also available on request at any library.

The consultation will run for six weeks, closing on Sunday, July 11.