Sunday, July 17, 2016

July 1

  1. Seeing the wonderful community engagement at the Edinburgh Central Library
  2. The not-so-secret hidden stairs behind the bookshelves!
  3. Hearing about the Edinburgh Youth Talks Program
  4. Special collections at University of Edinburgh New College Library
  5. The World's End pub
All the Details:
Edinburgh Central Library

My window view of Arthur's Seat
My first day in Edinburgh began with a breath-taking view from my dorm window of Arthur’s Seat, the main peak of mountains near Holyrood Park. After a quick breakfast, our class set out for the National Library Scotland. The library was not open yet, but we were able get coffee and look at the gift shop before we headed across the street for our first appointment of the day at the Edinburgh Central Library.
First, we were given a tour of the many spaces at the Central Library. There was a beautiful reading room where the shelving actually opened revealing hidden staircases to the gallery and more shelving. It was the perfect feature to show a group of librarians because we were all extremely impressed and excited by the idea of hidden passages filled with books. We were also very excited to take a look through some of the card catalogs that are still used at the library as they work to digitally catalog their materials.

Book cases that open to reveal hidden stairs!
The day we visited, there was a program going on in the Children’s Library. The kids and parents were all sitting around one of the librarians reading a book and singing. It was such a warm, happy place! I was very impressed by the large number of parents and kids in attendance at the program, and there were also other kids picking out books and playing in a small arts and crafts area. It was obvious that the library does an excellent job of bringing in kids and their parents from the community. We were also shown the music library, a small teen area, and the main lending library. One thing that stood out was the library’s process for book reservations. They use recyclable book jackets that keep reservations private and easy for patrons to locate when they arrive to pick them up. The library also has a number of community events and clubs for their patrons that keep the library a central part of the city.

After our tour, we got to hear some of the library staff talk about projects that they participate in for the community. More than anything, I was struck by the Youth Talks Program that helps to support teenagers in the area. It seems like the library and other groups in Edinburgh have really come together to provide safe, enriching experiences for teens to participate in during their free time. There was also a Digital Toy Box Program aimed as exposing children to STEM based classes and concepts. Overall, I was very impressed by this particular library’s interaction with the community. I think this is one of the main criteria in distinguishing a productive public library.

New College Library, Edinburgh University

New College Library
In the afternoon, our class had our last group trip over to the University of Edinburgh’s New College Library. Located in a beautiful old church that was built by the Free Church of Scotland, the New College Library is home to the School of Divinity. We were able to look at some of the library’s special collection materials in the Funk Reading Room, as well as the basement level rooms of stacks. The library has been able to digitally catalog about 60% of their collection so far, and still utilized card catalogs. The main focus in this library is print materials, therefore there are few computers available, although students are able to bring their own devices. The library is able to house many of the items needed for both the graduate and postgraduate students at the School of Divinity, making it a central space of learning for these students. As this was our last class visit, we said our goodbyes to everyone before heading out to explore Edinburgh.


Now that class was over, we had some time to relax and enjoy the city before everyone left for more traveling or the trip home. Friday afternoon I went with my friends, India and Emily, to meet Emily’s husband that had just gotten to town. We spent some time at The World’s End, a historic pub that was once located at the gates in and out of the city of Edinburgh. Later that night, India, Jess, and I ordered Indian food and watched a movie while we waited on our laundry. It was a great way to unwind after a month of focusing on school. We had one more day in Edinburgh before the first part of my trip would come to an end.

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