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10am-5pm Tue-Sat, closed Sun-Mon

Paisley Central Library is a listed building and as there are restrictions on modifications which can be made to the building, both internally and externally, access is more limited; customers with limited mobility and wheelchair users should use museum side entrance, located beside the car park, which is open between 9am and 4.45pm Monday to Saturday and allows access to Lending Library, Learning Centre, Reference and Local Studies Libraries; regrettably there is no disabled access to Children's Library which is situated on first floor, however staff are happy to help with providing, and returning children's books to ground floor

The Local Studies Library is based in Paisley Central Library. The collection is extensive, includes current and historical sources, and provides a wealth of information about Renfrewshire people, places and events from earliest times to the present day.

The Local Studies Library has a collection of historical demographic and statistical information for towns and villages in Renfrewshire. This includes population statistics for Renfrewshire towns and villages beginning with a figure for Renfrewshire and the Parish of Kilbarchan from 1755. The first population figure for Paisley is for 1791. The most recent population information for Renfrewshire is from the 2001 Census. The collection includes: (i) Renfrewshire Council publications; (ii) National publications relating to Renfrewshire; (iii) Census and Old Parish Records; and (iv) a full set of all three Statistical Accounts of Scotland covering the 1790s, 1830s and the 1950s.

Renfrewshire Libraries' local map collection contains maps and plans of Renfrewshire from around 1490 to the present day. The earliest map in the collection is a plan of Paisley between 1490 and 1545 drawn from the Chartulary of Paisley Abbey. There are copies of maps of Renfrewshire from such eminent surveyors as Timothy Pont and John Ainslie as well as local surveyors such as Charles Ross and James Knox. These pre-ordnance survey maps cover the period from 1490 until 1839. The first national, professionally produced maps were drawn by Ordnance Survey for Scotland between 1845 and 1878 and most of the Renfrewshire maps carry survey dates between 1856 and 1858. This OS edition has a Name Book for each Parish that contains useful information about natural features, industrial sites, settlements and buildings and sometimes includes the name of the property owner or occupier. Name Books have been transcribed for the Parishes of Houston, Inchinnan, Kilbarchan, Lochwinnoch, Neilston, Renfrew and the towns of Johnstone and Paisley (in 2 parts). There were two revisions of Renfrewshire, in the 1890s and around 1910. The collection includes maps of the towns and villages in Renfrewshire for these and subsequent dates up to the present day, including 1:10560 from 1857 to the 1940s; 1:2500 from 1857 to the 1970s; and 1:5000 for more recent maps. As part of the first OS edition, maps of Paisley were produced at the large scale of 1:500 and these are very detailed. The ground floor layout is shown for some of the larger buildings, for example the Poorhouse and the Prison. Paisley is the only town in present day Renfrewshire that was mapped on this scale and only for this edition of 1856-58. The collection also contains specialised maps for Renfrewshire covering geology and archaeology.

The Local Studies Library also holds Local Authority Minutes. Following the 1929 Local Government (Scotland) Act, Renfrewshire County Council took responsibility for the administration of the County. The large towns of Paisley, Greenock and Port Glasgow were responsible for all local services except education, valuation and electoral registration, which were County responsibilities. The smaller towns of Renfrew, Johnstone, Barrhead and Gourock were confined to more local matters. The County Council assumed responsibility for all services except parks and recreation for the remaining small settlements, for example Bishopton and Clarkston, commonly known as the landward area. In 1975 local government in Scotland changed to a new, two-tier system of District and Regional authorities and this led to political and geographical changes in Renfrewshire. Greenock, Port Glasgow and an area in the west of the county including Kilmalcolm became part of Inverclyde District Council. The area in the east of Renfrewshire including Eastwood, Giffnock and Newton Mearns became part of Eastwood District Council. The remainder of Renfrewshire County Council, and the towns below, became Renfrew District Council including Barrhead, Johnstone, Paisley and Renfrew. All three of these new District Councils were included in the much larger geographical and political area covered by the new Strathclyde Regional Council. After a further reorganisation in 1995, Renfrewshire Council became the succeeding authority. Both Renfrew District and Strathclyde Regional Councils ceased to exist. Barrhead and Neilston joined the new East Renfrewshire Council, which also included the former Eastwood District Council. The Council Minutes collection available in Renfrewshire Libraries Local Studies Library includes: Paisley Town Council minutes from 1594 to 1975, with small gaps; Renfrew Town Council minutes from 1655 to 1975, presently transcribed from 1718 to 1867; Johnstone Town Council minutes from 1864 to 1975; Renfrew District Council minutes and reports from 1975 to 1995; Strathclyde Regional Council minutes from 1975 to 1995; Renfrewshire County Council minutes from 1930 to 1975, with some years missing; Renfrewshire Council Minutes and reports from 1995 to date; Early records are written in an unfamiliar script and language.

Renfrewshire Libraries Local Studies Library also has a wide collection of local newspapers dating from 1824 to present day. Newspapers covering all of Renfrewshire, including the Burghs of Paisley, Renfrew and Johnstone, include: (i) Indexed extracts concerning Renfrewshire, from the Glasgow Journal between 1755 and 1774 and from the Glasgow Mercury, 1778 to 1796; (ii) the Paisley Advertiser and the Renfrewshire Advertiser from 1824 to 1850, with contemporary handwritten index; (iii) the Paisley Herald and Renfrewshire Advertiser, from 1853 until 1883, also with an early handwritten index; (iv) the Paisley and Renfrewshire Gazette, from the first issue in 1864 up to the present, is indexed for each year, an edition of this newspaper is available on microfilm and it is usually possible to supply copies of articles, in A4 format. Newspapers containing news of each Burgh which may also be useful for the rest of Renfrewshire include: (i) the Paisley Daily Express, from the first issue in 1874 to the present, indexed from 1968; (ii) the Johnstone Advertiser from 1957 to 1982, indexed from 1968; and (iii) the Renfrew Press, from 1925 to 1928 and from 1970 until April 1983, is followed by the Renfrew Post from May 1983 until 1989 (please note that the printed edition and the filmed edition of the Paisley & Renfrewshire Gazette differ and therefore some articles which appear in one may not be in the other).

The Local Studies Library is able to provide copying services, subject to copyright, for some of the resources in its collection. However, not all the material in the collection is suitable for copying.

Enquiries by any method are welcomed but it is not possible for Library staff to undertake detailed or time consuming research.
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