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Leighton Library, Dunblane

Scotland's oldest purpose-built independent library founded in 1687

Leighton Library Aims and Objectives


The Leighton Library, Dunblane

Business Aims and Objectives 2022-2025

Executive Summary

1. The Library

The Leighton Library is a category ‘A’ listed building, purpose-built in 1687 to house the book collection of Bishop Leighton (1611-1684) former Principal of Edinburgh University, former Chancellor of Glasgow University, Bishop of Dunblane and Archbishop of Glasgow. The collection was added to in the 18th and 19th centuries with a number of important volumes.

2. Organisation Structure and Governance

The Leighton Library Trust was established in 1701 and in 1925 it registered as a Scottish Charity. Currently (February 2022) there are six Trustees and an Executive Group. The Library is supported by the Friends of the Leighton Library and the Society of Friends of Dunblane Cathedral. There are no paid employees; it is managed by volunteers.

3. Strategic outcomes

The Trust’s strategic outcomes are to ensure a wider range of people are engaged in its history and heritage; the Trust becomes a more resilient organisation; the local area becomes a better place to live, work in or visit; and the local economy is boosted.

4. Aims and Objectives

These are to preserve and maintain the building, ensuring its contents and heritage are known nationally and internationally and making its contents available to everyone who visits the Library. They are also to foster strong community links and present the Library as a high-quality visitor attraction.

5. Conservation Strategy

The most immediate need is to renovate the Library building and to convert and fully modernise the ground floor (the Undercroft) into a visitor attraction. To meet this ambition the Trust has instructed an Advanced Conservation Accredited Architect, Heritage Consultants, a Quantity Surveyor, a Sculpture Conservationist, an Archaeologist, and a Structural Engineer.

6. Finance and Marketing Strategy

The Trust’s income is currently derived from the Friends, visitors, donations, and legacies. There is also an investment portfolio which generates a small income. To achieve the restoration and modernisation works applications have been sent to grant funding bodies and other fundraising initiatives are in place to ensure an income into the future.

7. Market Appraisal and Approach

In The Cross of Dunblane, the Cathedral attracts around 20,000 visitors per year; the Dunblane Museum opposite attracts around 10,000 visitors per year whereas the Library has only attracted 1,500 per year. Once the renovations and modernisations are complete the Library will be able to increase visitor numbers by providing a greater attraction and experience. The Trust is also already engaging with local schools and other groups which will increase its visibility and interest to all ages.

8. Monitoring and Evaluation

Day to day monitoring of the Library and its contents will ensure its ongoing resilience. Regular reviews by the Executive will confirm that the Trust is informed about visitor numbers and the overall interest and we will continue to work on enhancing this further.  We will also survey other local heritage sites and the community and traders to see how the restored and modernised Library has increased their life enjoyment and assisted their trade and income.

9. Organisational impact assessment

The Trust’s strategy is to create a resilient, self-sustaining, and valuable visitor attraction.

10. Competition

There is another historic library, Innerpeffray Library, 20 miles from Dunblane, which was established in 1680 although the library building itself was not completed until 1762.

11. Risks

The principal risks are fraud, mismanagement, loss of income, unexpected costs, an insufficient number of active Trustees and a lack of volunteers. Mitigating actions are in place.

Contact details

The Leighton Library, c/o Cathedral Manse, The Cross, Dunblane, Perthshire FK15 0AQ




1. The Library

The Leighton Library is a category ‘A’ listed building, purpose-built in 1687 to house the book collection of Bishop Leighton (1611-1684), former Principal of Edinburgh University, former Chancellor of Glasgow University, Bishop of Dunblane and Archbishop of Glasgow. He left a legacy of £100 to build the Library.

The building exhibits rare architectural detail typical of 17th century construction. Robert Leighton’s original library books remain in place within their original cabinets. The collection was added to in the 18th and 19th centuries and includes a number of historically important volumes. The oldest volume dates from 1504 and the collection is of international importance.

The Leighton Library is unique. It is one of a very small number of surviving independent libraries in Scotland and is the oldest independent library collection in Scotland to remain in its original purpose-built building.  It retains original fixtures, such as 17th century book presses and Charles II chairs. The façade is distinguished by a fine example of a 17th century marble cartouche thought to have been carved by a London workshop and ordered by William Drummond of Cromlix, 1st Viscount Strathallan, whose townhouse stood opposite the Library.

Whilst the book collection is in good condition, the building in which it sits is now in need of substantial renovation to ensure the continuing proper maintenance and preservation of the collection and its historic building.

It is sited within the beautiful historic precinct of The Cross in Dunblane which is increasingly attracting visitors and tourists resulting in the regeneration of its High Street.

2. Organisation Structure and Governance

The Library is owned and managed by the Leighton Library Trust which was established in 1701. It has been a Registered Scottish Charity (SC003010) since 1925. Work is underway to apply to the Charity Regulator (OSCR) to convert into a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO).

Currently (February 2022) there are six Trustees, chaired by the Minister of Dunblane Cathedral. Below that there is an Executive Group to whom the Trustees delegate operational decision-making and some expenditure.

The Library is supported by the Friends of the Leighton Library who pay a subscription and the Society of Friends of Dunblane Cathedral, itself a Scottish charity. There are currently around 20 Friends and we intend to increase this number into a more substantial supporter base, for example by seeking to establish an American section.

The Trust has no paid employees and is managed entirely by volunteers. There are three office holders: the Hon. Librarian, Hon. Treasurer and Hon. Custodian. There are also volunteers engaged on the restoration programme, the fundraising/publicity requirements, the newsletter, and a team looking at audio visual opportunities.

There are 28 volunteers (as of Feb 2022) whose principal role is to act as guides for visitors.


Leighton Library Management Structure:


Overall control, responsible for governance and strategy. Accountable for activities and outcomes. Approve Trust policies and expenditure


Financial oversight, manage budgets, accounts, and financial statements

Executive Group

Trustee and volunteer group to manage the Library running and the restoration/development. Delegated decision making and financial authority. Manage the volunteers


Look after the building and contents. Principal keyholder


From Stirling University. Custody of valuable items, loan items for research. Professional advice

Restoration Programme

To manage the restoration of the building fabric in conjunction with a retained conservation architect


Volunteer-led regular information service to Friends

Website and Social Media Administrator

Manage the Library website and social media streams

Volunteer guides

Guide visitors and safeguard the collection when open to the public


Grant applications, approaches to potential donors, public appeal, engagement of specialist consultants

Exhibition Lead

Lead the planning and organisation of temporary exhibitions off-site and within the Library


National and local media items, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, website, local partners

Conservation Architect

Contracted to design and manage the restoration programme working with the Restoration Lead and the Executive

Quantity Surveyor

Advises on restoration costs, working to conservation architect


Those whose tenders are accepted for work on the Library, following tendering managed by the architect

Friends of the Leighton Library

Annual subscribers supporting the Library

Society of Friends of Dunblane Cathedral

One of the charity’s aims is to support the Library


Trustees are appointed at the invitation of the existing Trustees. As the Trust moves towards converting to a SCIO in 2022 more defined processes will be established to lay down how Trustees are recruited, the period of tenure and reappointment, as well as a Code of Conduct. The body of Trustees is very small; converting to a SCIO will enlarge the number of Trustees, both to spread the load and increase capacity as developmental and restoration work gathers pace. We will develop a skills matrix for the Trustees to ensure that moving forward we can attract Trustees with the relevant skills and knowledge to ensure the future sustainability of the Library.


Volunteers are managed by the Executive Group, who assess offers of volunteering and the suitability of applicants. All persons connected with the Trust are subject to compliance with the Leighton Trust Safeguarding and Child Protection Policies. Any concerns about the suitability or activity of any volunteer are to be reported to the Chair or any other Trustee.

The limited number of volunteers has an impact on the amount of time the Library is open and consequently potential donations. There is an immediate need to increase the number of volunteers in the following areas:

  • Guides
  • Management of the premises
  • Public relations/communications
  • Fundraising
  • Bid writing
  • Restoration programme support.

A standard induction and development training package is being developed to ensure volunteers are on message and sufficiently skilled and knowledgeable to be confident and provide the visitors with a first-class visit.

Over 2022-2024 we will continue to develop our volunteer capability in the areas of:

  • IT - improve our online presence and enhance volunteer IT skills
  • PR and Marketing - create a detailed PR and marketing strategy and enhance our social media offerings. We will develop and implement a marketing campaign during 2022
  • Exhibiting - learn how to set up, plan, publicise and manage exhibitions to attract new audiences, raise the Library’s profile and generate revenue
  • Event management - learn how to plan and execute a range of events to raise profile and generate revenue
  • Technical expertise in connection with building restoration - ensure that effective oversight and management is carried with regard to the restoration work.

3. Strategic outcomes

The Trust has five strategic outcomes:

  • To make the Library and its collections accessible and attractive to all
  • To ensure a wider range of people will be involved in heritage
  • the Leighton Library Trust will become a more resilient organisation
  • the local area will become a better place to live, work in or visit
  • the local economy will be boosted.

4. Aims and Objectives

To achieve the Strategic outcomes, the Trust’s aims and objectives are:

  • to preserve and use Robert Leighton’s book collection
  • to enable visits by the public to the Library building itself and the collection
  • to increase knowledge of the Library nationally and internationally
  • to preserve and maintain the Library building
  • to make the collection available to academics and students from around the world (in conjunction with Stirling University Library)
  • to arrange open days
  • to foster and develop community-based projects, making local people aware and proud of the Library, developing links with young people, local schools and other community organisations
  • to present the library as a high-quality visitor attraction, complementing the historic centre of Dunblane.

5. Conservation Strategy

The Trustees have already embarked on this journey. They have:

  • established the Executive Group of Trustees and volunteers to restore, develop and fundraise
  • a detailed restoration plan in place which is costed and a Conservation Architect has been engaged to manage the works
  • submitted a significant number of grant funding applications to various funding bodies
  • development, marketing, and fundraising strategies in preparation.

Advice is being provided by leaders of other heritage institutions, Historic Environment Scotland, Stirling Council, and specialist conservationists. The aim is to start the exterior restoration in the spring of 2022.

The Library was last significantly restored between 1988 and 1990 and the ravages of climate and time have taken their toll on the fabric. Most significantly, the building was encased in cement-based harling at the last restoration, which we now know is detrimental to an ancient building’s fabric as it prevents it from ‘breathing.’  This needs to be removed and replaced with more appropriate lime-based harling. In addition, the roof, chimneys, stonework, windows, and doors all now need attention. The Library Room is on the first floor, reached by an historic outside ‘forestair.’ At ground floor level is the Undercroft; a magnificent, vaulted room, once the original Librarian’s residence in the 18th Century, which will be modernised into an attractive reception centre containing audio visual displays and space for community or performance activities, particularly for young persons who currently may find the Library rather ‘dry’. Another aspect of the project includes the specialist conservation repair of the marble cartouche on the exterior.

A Restoration programme has been drawn up for 2021/2022, which will ensure these essential works will be carried out. The total cost (c£500,000) exceeds the Trust’s reserves. Additional significant grant awards and a strong fundraising initiative is also required to meet the full cost of immediate repairs and ensure continuing resources for maintenance in future.

The Leighton Library Trust developed an outline repair scheme and commissioned a Conservation Plan.

In July 2021, the Trust selected an architect by competition to lead the restoration programme.

The indicative time scale for this work is:

September 2021   Develop an outline scheme package

February 2022 Prepare and submit planning permission to Stirling Council

February 2022 Prepare  Pre-tender package

March 2022  Contractor tender

April 2022 Evaluate bids and select contractor

May 2022 Confirmation of resources

Summer 2022    Works start

6. Finance and Marketing Strategy

6.1 The Trust’s current overheads

Over the last five years (2017 – 21) average overheads principally insurance, electricity and general maintenance amounted to £5,057pa. It is appreciated however that once the renovations and modernisations are complete these will increase.

6.2 Remuneration and Gifts in Kind

None of the Trustees, the Executive, the Volunteers nor the Guides receive any remuneration. Between January and November 2021 Gifts in Kind for time expended amounted to 1159 man days or 8,113 hours. Following restoration and opening of the Undercroft, by 2023 we will need a significant increase in volunteer time to support longer opening and ancillary visits/events. We will develop an indicative schedule and determine the required resources by the end of the restoration in the Autumn of 2022.

6.3 The Trust is funded by a number of streams:

6.3.1 Legacies

It is not possible to set targets for legacies, but wider community, national and international awareness of the Library may encourage people to consider legacies. Over the last two years however the Trust has received over £112,600 from legacies. This includes an unusually generous amount from one legacy alone. It is not possible to predict legacy income and promises made might not materialise.

6.3.2 Friends’ subscriptions

The number of Friends stands at 25. Income from Friends was £1,085 and other donations (excluding visitor donations) was £1,527 in 2021 amounting to £2,612. The last five-year average is £795 and £858, respectively. It is intended to grow the number of Friends’ and thereby subscriptions to a total of 50 by 2025, with a target of generating a subscription income of £2,170 pa.  With greater public awareness we expect donations (excluding visitor donations) to double providing a minimum annual income of £5,500.

6.3.4 Visitor donations

In an average year there have been 1,500 visitors to the Library, giving on average £1 per head. The last five-year average is £1,341 (this includes 2020 and 2021 when the Library was closed due to the Covid 19 pandemic). Following the renovations and modernisation of the Undercroft it is expected that the annual number of visitors will increase to 3,000.

We intend to increase the per capita donation of visitors to £3 by 2023 and £5 by 2024

  • 3000 by 2023 (£9,000)
  • 5000 by 2024 (£25,000)
  • 7000 by 2025 (£35,000)
  • 10,000 by 2026 (£50,000)

We will do this by publicising a suggested minimum donation prominently for visitors, by setting a set sum for private visits and making donations easier i.e., via card reader and a visible donation box.

6.3.5 Investment income

There is currently a portfolio with a value of £170,000. This generates an investment income which is currently re-invested. Of this £170,000 the Trustees have earmarked £100,000 towards the renovations. We intend to review the remaining portfolio with the assistance of Independent Financial Advisors to generate an annual return of 5% p.a. by 2022/3.

6.4 Grant funding applications

  • Approaching charitable trusts for grants and donations:
  • Grant applications in 2020/2021 yielded awards of £16,081
  • The Restoration Programme, with a commitment of £100,000 from the Trust’s reserves, needs to raise around £400,000 in total for initial repairs to the fabric and further funds will be required for development and maintenance.
  • We intend to raise up to £200,000 by the end of 2022 to meet the full restoration cost and to safeguard the Library’s future, as well as develop the Undercroft as a visitor attraction.

Details of major donations are itemised on

6.5 We continue to improve our public relations and our fundraising strategies to support our plans to develop the Library as a visitor attraction stimulating a number of potential funding streams as follows:

6.5.1 Just Giving appeal

  • A Just Giving web page was established in 2021

6.5.2 Approaching potential individual wealthy donors in the UK and overseas

  • We are developing a relationship with descendants of Bishop Leighton in the USA

6.5.3 Development of paying private tours/links with tour operators

  • We have made contact with a number of tourist organisations and the first private tours are booked for 2022. These are early days and the number of visits in 2022 will be limited by the restoration work. We are estimating a suggested donation of £10 per head for privately guided visits in groups of up to 10. At £100 per group and with an estimated three visits per month in 2023, this is projected to bring in £3,600 over the year.

6.5.4 Renting out as a filming location

  • We were used as a set for a German TV production in 2021

6.5.5 Intended fundraising activities to be developed 2022/2023

  • Private Events in the Undercroft to generate income
  • Fundraising activities e.g., coffee mornings, exhibitions
  • ‘Adopt a Book’
  • Merchandising
  • Leaflet drops
  • Lectures

6.5.6 We are in the process of purchasing a Card Reader machine. As the general usage of cash declines sharply, it is becoming common for payments to be via cards. We have missed out on donations in the past where visitors have no change or no cash but would still be willing to donate.

7. Market Appraisal and Approach

The Library began as a facility for the use of the Dunblane clergy. It developed into a subscription library and reading room, before effectively going into storage until the late 1980s. It no longer lends books other than for specific academic purposes via Stirling University. The Library has evolved into ‘book museum’ and visitor attraction. It does not charge admission and it relies heavily on visitor donations.

In the Cross of Dunblane, the Cathedral attracts around 20,000 visitors per year. The Dunblane Museum opposite attracts around 10,000 visitors per year. The Library has only attracted 1,500 per year, a figure significantly affected by its very limited opening times given the scarcity of volunteer guide availability.

There is no pre booked admission, simply passers-by. Many Dunblane residents have never set foot in the Library often citing its limited opening as a reason. When open, it attracts visitors to the town who also visit the Cathedral, Museum, and town centre. There have also been overseas visitors, often enroute north or south on a Scottish holiday. Some are family groups.

Stirling Council Tourism Office has identified a common visitor profile that of middle aged or older couples, often on day trips or passing-by, with relatively few younger people and families. Very few visitors are repeat visitors.

There is very limited contact between the Library and local school/youth groups. This is an area we are developing, particularly in connection with the Undercroft. For example, we are now engaged with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award locally.

We consider that there is strong potential to develop our public profile, increase visitor numbers and broaden our appeal. As recent events have boosted ‘staycations,’ this presents good opportunities to expand the growing market.

Wider, it is intended that our publicity and marketing strategy will substantially increase awareness of this heritage treasure in Dunblane, generate new funding streams and add to the attraction of the historic centre alongside the medieval Cathedral and Museum (and Andy Murray’s post box!). This will increase local, national, and international awareness of our rich heritage and encourage continuing funding to preserve this gem for future generations.

We will engage with the Dunblane Development Trust, who are convening a gathering of Dunblane organisations to improve communication and coordination and their plans for town centre development.

8. Monitoring and Evaluation

The restoration programme’s measures of success are:

8.1 Ensuring the building’s resilience in future

We will do this by repairing the building in line with the Conservation Plan and opening up and converting the Undercroft into a flexible space. We will repair, following conservation best practice, with reference to the most recent research on the most appropriate use of materials in terms of climate challenges. Where details are repaired or reinstated, these shall respect the historic detail but also be made more resilient where possible. The repairs will safeguard the long-term health of the building.

8.2 Continuing the Library’s role as a suitable internal environment to house this important book collection

We will do this by ensuring suitable internal environmental conditions in the restoration work consideration. Since April 2020, the Library room environment has been monitored automatically every 4 hours for temperature and relative humidity. The same interval monitoring, for temperature only, has been undertaken for the Undercroft.

8.3 Enhancing the historic precinct at the centre of Dunblane for the benefit of the community and visitors

The Library is a key feature of the beautiful historic centre of Dunblane. We will devise a development programme to raise awareness of this wonderful national asset within the community, seeking to improve access and outreach. We will also develop a plan to enhance the visitor experience particularly in the light of increasing numbers of visitors to the town, working with the Cathedral administration bodies and the Museum. This will have a beneficial effect on local business with increased trade and we will conduct market research with the community to assess progress and further actions.

8.4 Increasing visitors to the building attracted by its positive historic appearance

A rise in visitor numbers will increase casual visitor donations. Currently we receive on average around £1500 p.a. from 1500 visitors - £1 per head. We will aim to raise this significantly and will also explore developing an appropriate merchandise offer to generate a further income stream as well as a contactless donation facility.

Areas that will be considered are the effective use of the Internet to achieve world-wide coverage, advertising the books in the collection and making available through prior arrangement some of the rarer books for review. To increase further interest and funding, we will also provide on-line material about the Library and its contents showing how the renovations were undertaken with comment from the professionals who guided and assisted the Trust in the conservation of the building, the Undercroft, the cartouche, and the volumes that have been renovated such as the c18th American Atlas. Given the age of the collection we will also explain the history of book binding.

Our unique selling point is that, unlike many other museums, we can offer the visitor the opportunity to ‘touch’ history. However, in allowing this contact we will control handling items carefully to avoid damage to the collection.

8.5 The Executive Group meets fortnightly to review progress and performance. The Trustees meet on an ad hoc basis during which progress and performance is also reviewed.

8.6 We will establish a ‘balanced scorecard’ to monitor progress against our strategic goals, the restoration programme, risks, finance, and people issues. It will be used as a management tool by both the Trustees and the EG.

9. Organisational impact assessment

The Trust’s strategy is to create a resilient, self-sustaining, and valuable visitor attraction. By 2025 the organisation will have:

  • modernised into a charity suitable for the 21st century
  • achieved its fundraising targets thereby providing a fully functional visitor attraction
  • modernised the Undercroft into a multi-functional space to improve our accessibility and attractiveness, staging exhibitions and events and engaging with the community
  • raised our profile, locally, nationally, and internationally leading to increased income, wider awareness and a financial boost for Dunblane and the pride of its residents
  • restored the building, safeguarding the collection and creating a wide band of supporters to ensure this treasure continues for many generations to come.

We also need to increase our volunteer base. More attendance will be required if we are open longer and mount events and exhibitions. We intend to continue recruiting and expect that a higher profile and success will attract more local volunteers.

With regard to Governance and Management, an application is shortly to be made to the charities regulator OSCR to convert into a SCIO. We will increase the number of Trustees to nine and introduce rules of procedure to include limitations on Trustee tenure as well as a code of conduct.

All these topics are standing agenda items for the Executive Group’s meeting which are currently held once a fortnight. They are also on the Trustees’ agenda.

10. Competition

We have a unique offer to which only one other attraction in the area approximates. There is another historic library, Innerpeffray Library, 20 miles from Dunblane. Established in 1680, the library building itself was not completed until 1762, some hundred years after the Leighton Library building. Whilst it has a higher profile and a regular schedule of events, we have the advantage that we do not charge a formal entrance fee and have a central location easily accessed by public transport with an attractive town offering other sites to enjoy, together with a broad choice of catering and refreshment facilities. We would like however to create a collaborative working relationship with them to our mutual advantage.




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