July 14th- New College Library, University of Edinburgh

We are in SCOTLAND! After a day of traveling we arrived at the University of Edinburgh to begin an adventure in the new city. Our first day of class in Edinburgh began at one of the university’s libraries, New College Library. This library is located at the center of the old town of the city right off the Royal Mile down the road from Edinburgh Castle. The library acts as the school of divinity’s library.

New College Library.

New College Library.

Me outside the doors to the New College Library.

Me outside the doors to the New College Library.

The librarian who guided us through the library began with the history of the library and building. The story began with the breakdown or destruction of the Church of Scotland. One third of the ministers walked out and started the new Free Church of Scotland. The new organization needed a college to train ministers and started the New College and formed the library. The library had to start from scratch and asked for many donations. They requested items from women, authors, publishers and private individuals. The building for the library was built in 1846 but originally acted as a church before becoming the college library. The building became a library during the unification of the church in 1929. By 1936 the library opened in their current building. At this point, the New College went under the University of Edinburgh and the New College Library became one of the largest theological special collection libraries in the United Kingdom. The library still has the original 1930s furniture through out.

The library started with strong protestant support and items but now the library provides information on a wide variety of religious studies. However about 40% of the items are not cataloged leading to one of the bigger issues for the library. The books are mostly cataloged by Library of Congress system since 2002, and just started using Primo. In the Funk Reading Room, we observed some treasures of the library’s special collections. This included a Book of Common Prayers from 1637 and Calvin: Institutes of Christian Religion from 1536.

After viewing the objects in the reading room, we moved to a tour of the library. The main room of the library contains no desktop computers or group study rooms. As of right now the library believes this is to be a good thing since no other library offers that type of peace and simplicity. Yet our guide did mention that there are talks of changing that in the future. I personally would like it to stay the same since other school libraries do offer the computers and rooms, why not keep a library simply books and tables for studying.

The open stacks were next on our tour. The shelves of the stacks are structural elements of the building and therefore cannot be moved. The fixed shelves hold up the ceiling to the floor above. Below the open stacks are the closed stacks of the special collections. After viewing the open stacks our morning at the University of Edinburgh’s New College Library concluded.

Following our tour of the library, I made the choice to go visit Edinburgh Castle. I walked up the Royal Mile at which the castle sits atop. The castle is one of the major tourist attractions of the city and the lines were long and the spaces crowded. However, I still greatly enjoyed seeing the castle. Within the walls housed the Scottish royal jewels and many Scottish exhibits. After viewing these, a friend and I went to the castle tearoom and had a traditional afternoon tea. This completed a delightful trip to the castle.

Entering Edinburgh Castle.

Entering Edinburgh Castle.

Dog cemetery at Edinburgh Castle.

Dog cemetery at Edinburgh Castle.

My afternoon tea at the castle.

My afternoon tea at the castle.

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