Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Maughan Library - July 29 2010

Our last tour was the library of our host college, King's College's, Maughan Library. It's located off of Fleet Street in an incredible building. That's of course is right in the neighborhood of Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett.  Inside the library was a multitude of new shelves lined with books and study areas and computers for students. They preserved the integrity of the building and added a new generation of library systems to it. There were self check out machines and reference computers at many corners. Even though with these new gadgets, librarians are always on hand to help.  One of the most impressive reading rooms is the round room lined with shelves to the top. It's a quiet study room as voices and any noise echos extremely in there.

Royal Geographic Society - July 27, 2010

We were treated to an optional tour to the Royal Geographic Society. The buildings were a 3 part renovation extension with the last being funded by the heritage lottery fund. This grant made possible for them to have new space for the library and storage but also digitize and open their collections up to patrons that may not have known about them. As with most libraries, they are out of space and don't take donation of materials unless it's something very special like the boot Shackleton wore. Their new library space is mostly a reading room and map room blended together. Although their award wall is covered with the names of many notable explorers, today's explores tend to be of the academic world discoveries not the wilderness.  With their new lecture hall, many of today's leading research and scholars have spoken there about current trends. Maybe the next breakthrough would be a complete mapping of the ocean's floor.

The National Archives of Scotland - July 20, 2010

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After the morning in Dunfirmline, we returned to Edinburgh and had a tour of the National Archives of Scotland. They are known as the Keeper of the Records of Scotland.  There are so many records that there are actually 3 buildings that make up the National Archives. There are 2 main divisions, record services and corporate services. Their record keeping has records from about the 12th century to today. Much of the current building we tour this day was dedicated to the Scottish People Center where people from around the world come to research their family history. Much of general family history records have been digitized. Patrons can order, pay for and print pictures and certain documents at home. Although there are 8 websites for the different departments of the archives, there are links and references to which patrons can be directed to for the correct one. This was an impressively, purpose built building as well. 

Dunfermline Public Library - July 20, 2010,_Dunfermline.jpg#file
To the Kingdom of Fife!!!  We travel by coach to Dunfermline, birthplace of Andrew Carnegie, to see the first Carnegie library. Like the Edinburgh Central Library, this building is made of stone, unlike many in the UK which are brick. This is the first library created from the donation of about 8000 pounds from Andrew Carnegie, and obviously not his last. Although Carnegie donated the original money to raise a building and to fill its shelves, it was left to the town to continue its upkeep.  The demand was so great for a public lending library that on its first day, the library ran out of books to lend. Their archive and special collections had its own climate controlled space. This was the first true climate controlled space in a library we had seen in the UK. Some of their special collections are on display in a dedicated gallery space which include: Erskine Beveridge, George Reid, Murrison Burns, and Robert Henryson collections. It may have been the first Carnegie library, but to the locals this is the Dunfermline Public Library that Carnegie happened to give money for first.

Central Library of Edinburgh - July 19 2010

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After lunching at the Elephant House the birthplace of Harry Potter, we went to the Central Library of Edinburgh. Edinburgh has been named by UNESCO as the city of literature and this main branch is its heart. Began with a donation from Andrew Carnegie, the Central Library has grown to over 850,000 items. This collection includes the usual suspects of a main branch library but it also had a separate space, 2 levels dedicated to everything Scotland, and everything Edinburgh. This special reference space was dedicated to the history and culture and people of Edinburgh and Scotland. Many people use the reference here and across the street at the National Library of Scotland to do family history searches. They have implemented a Web 2.0  and virtual library across the system to reach rural areas and house bound patrons as well as bring access to the people. It has brought in more patronage and been able to reach more users in finding resources the library can offer. They have launched a digital project called "Your Edinburgh" and it's a community website of the heritage of Scotland in images.  Patrons can browse and order prints any time. Their Reader Advisory program not only promotes famous authors but rather emerging authors from Edinburgh and Scotland. Patrons can easily reach out and speak and discuss the authors books during the book readings and promotions. Many of these are held in outlying branches since not everyone is able to get to the central branch. The librarians we met here imparted a great sense of community commitment and development I much respect and admire. They are very proud of their library and what they do.