Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Edinburgh Central Library

Next up on our Edinburgh library tour was the Central Library, part of of the Edinburgh City Libraries and Information Services. The Central Library, a Carnegie Library, opened its doors in 1890 and has more than 850,000 items in its collections. I was really excited to be able to visit a Carnegie (I used to work in a couple of them in the States) and I wandered around a bit before the tour began. The Library is made up of several libraries, including the Central Lending Library, the Fine Arts Library, the Reference Library, the Scottish Library, the Children's Library, and the Music Library. (The Children's and Music Libraries are housed in a a separate building). I found the most interesting area to be the one-room Central Lending Library. The room was majestic with its tall wooden shelves and natural lighting. I noticed a collection of Arabic and Chinese books as well as a collection of Quick Reads books, a line with which I was unfamiliar. Quick Reads turned out to be a line of short, easy to read books available in the UK.

After browsing I joined the rest of the group for a talk and tour of the Library. We first heard from the head of Virtual Library development. This library started less than a year ago and is both a portal for online information and a way to raise the Library's profile. It contains e-books, the Heritage Image Collection, and a "Your Edinburgh" community information site that contains links to local and national organizations, health information, as well as other information pertinent to users. I think this is a great way to reach out to users and provide a portal to useful services. The Library also runs a blog and and a Twitter page to connect with the public.

We heard from the head of special collections (containing materials from the 15th century to present) and members of the Reader Development department. The purpose of reader development is to engage with readers to find out if users are satisfied with Library services. They also co-ordinate author events, book groups, staff training programs and other events. Currently, there is a rather interesting summer reading promotion called "Take a Break With a Great Scottish Book." While we have similar departments in the States, this seemed like a great way to keep in touch with users.

I really enjoyed my visit to this library. The staff were kind enough to provide us with refreshments and made us all feel very welcome. Thank you so much!

Photo courtesy of Edinburgh-Scotland.net.

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