What I Did On My Holidays… Or Edinburgh’s Libraries

Much like the first task undertaken when returning to school after the summer holidays, I thought I would let you know what I got up to in my recent trip north of the border to Scotland, or more specifically, Edinburgh.

Whilst there I ate a great deal of haggis, drank Irn Bru, met Jackie Stewart (by chance, and it was more me staring at him than an actual meeting) and had a great time. I also touched Hume’s toe (a statue, Hume is long gone), for no reason other than it was shiny, so clearly many others had touched it in the past, giving the illusion that it might be lucky to do so. I’m not sure if it was. I’ll let you know if the next month or so goes well.

Jackie Stewart

Jackie Stewart looking Scottish in a tartan flat cap. Flickr cc by Nick J Webb

A recurring theme across my long weekend was visiting libraries. I’m not really sure how it happened. Apparently I am drawn to them, and despite spending all week working in one, I still feel compelled to go into others and have a nose around. I managed to visit three different libraries whilst in the City of Literature, and all were very different despite being open to the public, proving the diverse set of needs that can be met by these venerable institutions.

The Scottish Poetry Library (@byleaveswelive) was first up; I was partly intrigued by its building (award winning don’t you know?) but also by its contents. I know little of Scottish Poetry, (or poetry more generally for that matter) beyond Robbie (Rabbie?) Burns and wanted to see what I could find. What was there was a fantastic collection of poetry, short stories, periodicals, and a children’s area. I headed up for the periodicals as I hoped that these would provide me with a range of authors whom I could skim through to find something to my taste. Having settled down in a comfy chair, I enjoyed the Edinburgh Review and the The Interpreter’s House Journal – a highlight was a poem by Michael Newman about biscuits. Cracking stuff, and proved that poetry is not all high and mighty Lady of Shallot stuff, but fun, accessible and most definitely can make you smile. If ever you are nearby, definitely pop in.

Scottish Poetry Library

Scottish Poetry Library Building

Scottish Poetry Library 2

Scottish Poetry Library Entrance












The National Library of Scotland  (@natlibscot) sits opposite Edinburgh Central Library – numbers two and three on my visit. Whilst I did not venture into the reading room of the NLS, I went around its galleries, providing me with an alternative library visit . At the moment, the NLS has a series of Bibles and Bible frontispieces on display – many of which I had studied during my degree as ideas of Tudor political thought. I therefore found this fantastic, however I am pleased to let you know that there were others in the exhibition who looked equally excited to see the Great Bible of 1539. In a second exhibition space was a more interactive exhibit providing an insight into authors’ lives, as well as a chance to see how well you would fare as an author attempting to publish – sadly my chances were not rated highly, but the space certainly proved that libraries can, and do, exhibitions fantastically well. A great combination of atmospheric lighting and localised sound really topped the exhibition off fantastically.

National Library of Scotland

National Library of Scotland (Flickr cc by Bertio Garcia)

I was determined to visit Edinburgh Central Library (@Talesofonescity), having signed up to their service remotely roughly one year ago, I simply did not want to miss visiting! The building was a traditional fare, but impressive and welcoming with it, and I happily nestled myself in a corner for a while to read about bee keeping (someone in our street now has bees – I wanted to swot up on my bee knowledge for some well informed small talk).

Edinbrugh Central Library

Edinburgh Central Library (Flickr cc by CharNewcomb)



Not my neighbour, but what he might look like soon (Flickr cc by jordanfischer)

The thing that struck me about all three libraries was how different they were, despite the similarities. All had superb members of staff who were polite, helpful and well informed about their collections. All used social media splendiferously, I complemented them on their services later on, and received responses from all. The collections and people in each library were diverse, individual and proved how effectively libraries serve a wide range of functions. All in all, well done libraries and well done Edinburgh. 

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by edinburghcitylibraries on November 24, 2011 at 4:30 pm



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