Tuesday, July 27, 2010

National Library of Scotland

Hello! I have been away for a few days in Scotland (mainly Edinburgh) for a mini-break and am only now getting caught up on the blog. Before the break began our class visited a few Edinburgh libraries. The first was the National Library of Scotland in the center of Edinburgh Old Town. The Library grew out of the Advocates Library (established in 1689) and was only officially established in 1925 by the National Library of Scotland Act. Work began on the first building in 1938 but due to the interference of World War II, it did not open until 1956. As the Library is the legal depository library for Scotland, with 6,000 new items added every week, one building was not enough to house all of the collections. An additional building, the Causeway Building, opened in 1995. The collection consists of 14 million books and manuscripts, 2 million maps and atlases, 300,000 music scores, 32,000 films and videos, and 25,000 newspaper and magazine titles (collection information from the Visitor Centre). These materials comprise 490 languages. To view these materials users are required to register for a card. Registration is open to everyone, and cards are available for short-term use (3 months), or long-term (up to 3 years). Registration forms are available online.

Although we were not able to see any of the collection, we visited two exhibitions in the Visitor Centre. The first contained items from the John Murray Archive, acquired by the Library in 2006. The first John Murray began a book selling business on Fleet Street in 1768 and became an influential publisher. The archive contains materials from the firm's publishing history. I was excited to see letters and other paraphernalia from Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Darwin, Sir Walter Scott, Lord Byron, David Livingstone, and others. The other exhibition contained golf memorabilia.

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