Feels Like Home

July 1, 2016  A.M.

Edinburgh’s Central Library is unique in many ways.  It is a public library that was born as the Queen Victoria Library and was refurbished in 2014.  Central Library is comprised of a Family History Floor, which is a Scottish History floor that collects postcards and other memorabilia enjoyed by families but can be zoned for study groups.  It also has a Music Library, a fun Children’s Library, and a teen and youth section which they hope to enlarge.  They employ an IT buddy system and are upgrading by purchasing e-resources.

As with many libraries at home in the United States and abroad, the countries’ economic dilemmas have resulted in problems for libraries.  Funds are cut and libraries continue to attempt to maintain public service programs.

One of the most unique public service programs is an outreach for youth.   Called Youth Talk, the library was requested by police and other agencies to engage youth, particularly in a low-income neighborhood where the crime rate was high.  Central Library answered the call and completely changed the way they operated.  Teens had not been participating in the program as it had existed; now the youth are in charge and meet responsibilities they set for themselves rather than adults directing and planning.  The program involves the police, community, schools and other organizations.  Consequently, there has been a 17% drop in crime.  This is such a new approach that other libraries would be wont to emulate it.  Another program used to engage young people is called the Digital Toy Box that utilizes such activities as robotics and 3-D printers.

Young people do not get all of the action at Central Library, though.  Cancer patients and their families receive care; a free bus is available for the disabled. Edinburgh Libraries Online and  fact sheets help patrons learn how to use the library, and a new service called Our Town Stories allows the Edinburgh community to contribute.

I loved this library and the programs offered.  This is only a brief summary of the services they offer.  My favorite is the Youth Talk because of the potential it can offer young people in providing leadership skills at the very least.

July 1, 2016  P.M.

Our second visit of this day was to the New College Library of Edinburgh University.  New College has some 90,000 rare books – not all theology.  It is located in a building that was a chapel for Free Church College until it became a part of the University in the early 1930’s.  There are five floors to the building.  The library is open access and most books use the Library of Congress Classification.  New College acquired its first computer in 1986.

The chapel area is called the Library Hall.  Dr. Robert Funk contributed $1,000,000 to assist with the cataloging, processing, and preserving of the archives and special collections to be given over a period of ten years (http://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/library-museum-gallery/finding-resources/subject-guides/divinity/news).  I was interested to find that many of the rarest books and manuscripts were on the lowest floor.  The library holds wonderful Presbyterian works.  There are manuscripts and sermons of people vital to the Protestant movement such as Calvin, Knox, John Owen and the lost archives of Thomas Chalmers.  The library owns three fifteenth century illuminated manuscripts and incunabula between 1475 and 1500.

How I would like to handle some of these materials!

I would have enjoyed this day’s activities much more had I not been so ill.  After all, I had been looking forward to Edinburgh for over three weeks!  My trip to Inverness and the Isle of Skye for the next day was totally thrown to the winds.  However, that means another visit to Scotland!


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