16 July 2013

Day 27 - Edinburgh: Central Library and New College Library

It was once again another gorgeous day filled with fun library visits! Thank you St Swithun for the sunny weather! [St Swithun is an English saint who died about 860 and specifically said he wanted to be buried outside, not in a church. Well 100 years later, it was beginning to be fashionable for major cathedrals to have saints in them, so pilgrims would come and make monetary offerings to the church, so they dug Swithun up and reinterred him in a grand tomb inside Winchester Cathedral...and the very next day it down poured for days, and it was said it was Swithun showing his displeasure. Since then, it is said that if it is fair on St Swithun's day, July 15, there will be 40 days of good weather, and if it rains, it is 40 days of rain.]

Our morning visit was to the Central Library of Edinburgh (http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/directory_record/5079/central_library). This has to be one of the best public libraries I have ever visited - their range of services is phenomenal, and they have won a number of awards. And you can always tell a good library when there is crowd waiting outside the doors for it to open. The Central Library is a main branch of the Edinburgh libraries, of which there are 28 neighborhood branches. They have a wonderful assortment of children's programs, along with a fantastic digital library. 

The kindness shown to us by all these various repositories really makes me so happy to be in such a supportive profession! At the Central Library, we were given presentations by three separate people, and shepherded around in tours by two other people - these five librarians I am sure had much more pressing things to do than show us around and explain how their library works, yet they take time out of their day to introduce us new professionals to their library. They also provided us with a cup of tea/coffee and biscuits! And a nice packet of materials regarding their library services. In addition, one of the presentations dealt with examples of their special collection materials. Back in April, I was able to job shadow the archivist of the Concord Public Library, and one of the things she was doing was pulling materials for a presentation she was giving the next day - it took almost two hours to get everything together, for a 15 minute presentation, so I am extremely aware of all the work that goes into putting on these presentations for us, and am so grateful for the time spent on it, because they are wonderful learning experiences!

Last year the Central Library was awarded the best library service in the UK award - it truly is a community hub, striving to be flexible, open, and connected to the people of not only Edinburgh, but Scotland and the wider UK. They host a conference where MPs (members of Parliament) come and speak with librarians to help raise the public profile of libraries. A major goal is to continually bring in people to the library, especially those who might otherwise not visit. To accomplish this goal, they have a long-standing partnership with Dyslexia Scotland to promote awareness and engage dyslexic readers. They also participate in the Reading Championship project and summer reading challenge. Interesting fact, Edinburgh is a UN City of Literature, the first one to be designated as such in the world.

Definitely one of my favorite things learned about during the visit was the Our Town Stories website: http://www.ourtownstories.co.uk/overview/ I love the section where you can see the then and now photos - it is a wonderfully interactive website.

The Central Library was also the first Carnegie library built, giving it a great mix of modern aspects along with Victorian library architecture. 
The self-checkout area:
Items from the special collections:
The reading room (notice the galley level up above...we got to go up there!)
View from the galley:
In the afternoon, we visited the New College Library (http://www.ed.ac.uk/schools-departments/information-services/services/library-museum-gallery/using-library/lib-locate/newcoll-lib), which is a divinity school library. The main reading room is housed in a former chapel:
The book cases were created using the pews of the church:
Shelia Dunn, the supervisor of the library, explain to us about the library and its history. The college was built in 1850, and in 1936 the library took up residence in its current location. Since it is a divinity library, they do receive external support from the Church of Scotland to help support the purchase of books and e-resources. It is open to both the public as well as the students of the University of Edinburgh. You can either join as a reference user (which is free) or become a member (which costs money). Due to space issues, they have an annual book sale and they use this money to fund the conservation of special collections, which costs around £10,000 annually. Right now they are working on getting scanned images online of the items in special collections which helps to conserve the items since the readers can instead look at the images online rather than handling them.
It was really interesting to see an academic library, which is mainly devoted to divinity and theology. The original classification system was one created for theology libraries, but they are switching over to Library of Congress because it encompasses all religions and not just Christianity. On our tour, we got to go into the stacks, including the ones off-limits. Stack 3 was my favorite, full of extremely old books, including manuscripts and incunabula:
We also saw a first edition King James Bible from 1611:
After the visit, I headed back to Dalkeith as I wanted to go for another walk on the property and try to see some of the animals we were told lived on the 850 acres of land...and I found a bunch! My main goal was to find the "hairy coo" - the Scottish Highland cows. He was a little tired when I found him:
A little further down, there were regular cows just chilling out in a field:
Then there were tons of horses, this one was friendly, I think he thought I brought treats:
A field of cows:
Also on the walk I found the Orangerie:
And the Amphitheater:
It was a really nice walk around the property, which is free to the public to walk around and there were tons of people biking, running, and walking their dogs:
Tomorrow we have free, and I am going on a West Highlands Lochs and Castles day tour which sounds like a great day, and it is supposed to once again be warm and partly cloudy which is perfect for a day outside!

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful post and pictures! You are visiting such interesting places! Love and miss you, Mom and Dad :)