ELISA summer gathering – June 2014

Re-posted from A Very Fine Library

Today I attended the ELISA Summer Gathering and AGM at the Royal Botanic Garden’s Library, Edinburgh. RBG’s librarian told us a bit about the history of the garden and the work of the library, gave us a wee tour and showed us a few items from their collections.

The Library at the Botanics

The Library at the Botanics

The RBG Library It was great to be in the RGB Library again. I hadn’t visited since I did work experience there years (and years) ago. It’s a lot bigger than I remembered!

I was only there for a few weeks but it was a truly wonderful experience. The library staff were so welcoming, the work was interesting and fun – and the gardens! The view from the library windows is just stunning.

I loved hanging round with botanists in the staff room or chatting to horticulture folk in the glass houses. I’d see interesting plants at lunchtime then come back to the library where the staff would help me track them down in the books. Good times!

The collections
The librarian gave us an overview of the RBG collections. I believe she said 30-40 thousand items, made up of: journals, textbooks, floras and herbals (the last two are the beautiful, illustrated works detailing and describing various plant species). They also hold a collection of original artworks recording specimens from RBG’s own herbarium and ‘living collections’.

The library is part of the Science Department at RBG. The librarian reports to the Head of Science who in turn reports to the Regis Keeper. The library works with staff from all departments of the Gardens – including the shop.

Journals
RBG produces two scholarly works: Edinburgh Journal of Botany and Sibbaldia Horticultural Journal. When I was there on work experience I learned that the library used these journals in an international exchange program. RBG would send out their journals to various institutions and, in return, get other journals back. I was pleased to hear that they still use this method today. They do subscribe to some journals but the exchange scheme is still in effect as well.

AGM
After the tour we had a (very) short AGM. There were reports from the treasurer and the heads of two of the working groups: ‘Access’ and ‘Education’. There was no report from the ‘ICT’ group. The members of the business committee all wanted to stay on for another year. This was accepted unanimously.

This was my first Edinburgh Library and Information Services Agency (ELISA) meeting. There were a few familiar faces (the Edinburgh library world is fairly small) but everyone was friendly. It seems like a jolly group – I think I’ll go again :)

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