Royal Botanic Garden’s Library visit

Report by Sarah Louise McDonald, Sheriff Court Librarian

On the 7th of July CILIP Government Information Group  members visited the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Library, Scotland’s national collection of botanical and horticultural literature. Scottish Working Forum for Official Publications (SWOP) and Edinburgh Libraries Information Services Agency (ELISA) members were also invited to attend.

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The main entrance to the Library and Archive can be accessed via the main entrance off Inverleith Row, though my colleagues and I took a brief stroll through the gardens before meeting Lorna Mitchell, the Head of the Library and Archives, in the Herbarium foyer which set the scene nicely!

The collection houses around 4,200 journal titles and 70,000 books, the earliest of which dates from 1485 and is a record of herbal medicinal plants which belonged to the Regius Keeper. Books were bought at this time by the Botanical Society of Edinburgh but treated like personal possessions so it was common for them to be sold off to supplement members’ incomes. After the establishment of the library in 1873 they were bought, returned or donated to form part of the early collection. It was only in 1964 when the library moved to their current building that the accessions were all housed together, though even now some treasures may be hidden away in offices!

The library and archive supports the staff and students of RGBE in their research; they actively collect materials on botany, floras of different countries, and plant taxonomies amongst others. Many resources are donated or exchanged by former students who send materials from their travels back to Edinburgh.

Lorna showed us a selection of fascinating items including some bound herbaria which had been annotated by 18th century Scottish physicist and botanist John Hope. cof

His handwriting around the pressed flowers show that they were collected in albums prior to the Linnaeus’ plant classification system’s creation, because he’s annotated the pages with the new names of the specimens at a later date. These items are not only rare due to their historical significance but also the format of the albums themselves as most preserved plants are stored on flat specimen sheets for scientific use. Although the library doesn’t have conservation facilities in-house they regulate the environment to preserve the plant items they hold, and take preventative measures – even freezing items before they arrive and leave the collection to reduce the risk of introducing harmful beasties!

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Lorna explained that botanists still prefer illustrations as a general rule. Although photography is used to record and document, artists are often found working in the herbarium to record minute details. We saw some beautiful examples of different types of illustration. One extremely rare copy of Botanica in Originali seu Herbarium vivum by Johann Hieronymus Kniphof contains prints made from actual plants which were delicately inked and then later hand coloured. There are twelve volumes with 100 illustrations in each, and are extremely rare as only one or two copies of these would have ever been produced due to the labour-intensive, expensive and detailed nature of the work. It’s difficult to know the exact provenance of the books as these volumes have been rebound over the years but it is believed this was John Hope’s personal set.

As the collection is so varied in both format and scope it can be difficult to catalogue and make unusual items available to the public, but work is continuing using the open source platform Koha to provide some information to prospective visitors. The key message we took away from the day is that this is very much an active library which should be used, not a room of museum pieces never to be touched! There’s a balance to be struck between conservation and development that the RGBE library tackles daily, but they are very keen to show off the range of materials they have available.

More information on how to visit the RGBE library and archives can be found on their website [1], and in recent years they have been featured on the Scottish Book Trust [2] and 23 Librarians [3] blogs too. Thanks very much to Lorna for showing us just some of the many treasures of the library and archive.

 

1: http://www.rbge.org.uk/science/library-and-archives

2: http://scottishbooktrust.com/blog/reading/2015/03/behind-the-scenes-at-the-library-royal-botanic-gardens-edinburgh

3: https://librarians23.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/lorna-mitchell/

 

 

 

LOVE YOUR LIBRARIES? #MakeItCount

The City of Literature Trust is running a library campaign calling library lovers and users all over Edinburgh to get a card, sign up a friend, make the most of what’s on offer, and get vocal about how great libraries are.

On Monday 26 June 2017, the City of Literature Trust’s ‘Make It Count’ Library campaign will be kicked-off – spanning a four week period that will delve deep into the heart of Edinburgh’s libraries by featuring stories, images and conversations between librarians and writers – ending with the Trust’s pledge to take the words and support received to Edinburgh’s Councillors at the City Chambers.

Inspired by the support and enthusiasm generated by the Libraries Matter campaign run by CILIPS, the Trust was keen to carry this sentiment forward; to harness the overwhelming support and passion for Edinburgh’s local libraries and channel this into creating a tangible and noticeable drive in numbers across library services.

Edinburgh based author Ron Butlin told the Trust:

‘I find libraries even more important than ever. Being able to browse real shelves rather than merely relying on Google is a much more fruitful way of doing research, and library staff are just about the most knowledgeable people I have ever met. Libraries are the enlightened custodians of our culture…we are so very lucky to have public libraries to keep us in touch with the closest we can come to reasonable truth. Long live libraries!’

So, what are we asking library lovers to do? Just three simple things:

  • Get a Card – sign-up to their local library and tag #MakeItCount
  • Get a Book – borrow a book, ebook, CD, or DVD and share it
  • Get a Friend – tell friends, family and colleagues about the fantastic offers on in local libraries

As this campaign is all about the collective effort of Edinburgh’s library lovers and users, the Trust is also reaching out to organisations in the city – literary or otherwise – to get them involved by asking them to spread the message around colleagues and friends, share images online featuring library cards and library books using #MakeItCount and #LibrariesMatter, as well as starting conversations in day-to-day life about visiting and using libraries.

The campaign will run over a period of four weeks, from the 26 Jun until the 24 Jul, with the first three weeks being specifically targeted towards generating online engagement and conversation via social media and the campaign page on the Trust’s website: cityofliterature.com/makeitcount, when it goes live. The Trust will work with librarians, library advisors, and writers to promote the importance of Edinburgh’s libraries as not only reading spaces, but places to work, learn, and socialise.

Ali Bowden, Director of the City of Literature Trust, says: ‘Libraries are the beating heart of our City of Literature. They are a haven for words that inspire and entertain; places of possibility and discovery that foster a love of literature, strengthening the very foundations of our society. We know that in order to keep them open, funded, and operating as the fantastic spaces that they already are, we need to be seen to be using them.’

Make It Count Action Card

#’s to use and remember: #MakeItCount and #LibrariesMatter

ELISA Visit to the Library of the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh – photos

The visit to the Botanics Library was very successful – informative and interesting.
Many thanks to Lorna Mitchell, Head of Library Services at RBGE.

Photos of the visit (thanks to Chiara Ciucani)

Celtic Knot: Wikipedia Language Conference 2017

The Celtic Knot Conference 2017 is the first Wikipedia Language conference organised in collaboration between the University of Edinburgh and Wikimedia UK focusing on supporting Celtic & Indigenous Languages.

  • This Wikimedia UK event will showcase innovative approaches to open education, open knowledge and open data that support and grow Celtic and Indigenous language communities.
  • Identifying ways in which our cultural heritage can be not just preserved but, as living languages, engaged with and expanded on so as to enrich the linguistic map of the British Isles and beyond through a cross-pollination of ideas & knowledge exchange.
  • Building bridges between communities, this event seeks diverse participants who will share their practice and discover fruitful new collaborations as a result.

Please save the dates. Booking is now open if you would like to attend.

Full details are available from wikimedia.org.uk

#CelticKnot

ELISA visit to National War Museum of Scotland Library

The National War Museum and Library ELISA visit

Report by Judy Wheeler

On Wednesday 10th May, Sarah Dallman and Ross Anderson hosted an ELISA visit to the National War Museum Library, which is part of the National Museums of Scotland. The War Museum is located within the grounds of Edinburgh castle, and explores Scotland’s military history.

The foundations of the museum go back to the First World War and the War Museum itself houses variety of exhibits including uniforms, weapons, medals, photographs, paintings, flags and colours, silverware and even a mascot – Bob the dog. It currently has a Safer Steps exhibition, celebrating the work of the Halo trust on mine clearance. http://www.nms.ac.uk/national-war-museum/whats-on/halo-trust/

The library has been part of the museum from the very start. In 1933 it is believed that the library had around 3000 volumes, and was a research library for the museum’s curator.

Stock

The library’s collection is now around 11,000 volumes, both monographs and journals, and reflects the museum’s collections. The collection relates to Scottish military history going back to the 17th century – including Army, Navy and RAF material. The library has a lot of material on regimental histories – including overseas regiments – as well as a broad range of war-related subjects such as uniforms, weapons, women in the armed forces and even music and art.

Most of the stock is published material, and the Librarian is currently working to try to catalogue all of the holdings. The library is classified using two different schemes – the regimental material is based on a War Office classification, which arranges the regiments chronologically with the older regiments first and newer at the end. Stock is purchased centrally, and catalogued and classified and barcoded by Sarah, the War Museum Librarian.

War Museum JW

Enquiries and workshops

The Library is open on a Tuesday Morning only, and is open to the public – access is reference only. Potential visitors to the library can send an enquiry via email and the librarian will send them an email to allow them free entry into the Castle grounds to get to the library.

Common enquiries received by the library include military history enquiries and people looking to track the regiment that a family member belonged to. This is a tricky enquiry for the War Museum Librarian! However, if a clear photograph including insignia is provided, sometimes, it is possible to identify the regiment.

The library staff also provide workshops for the public on ‘Tracing Your Military Ancestors’ and host visits from groups. Recent visitors include a group who had had family members in Far East Prisoner of War Camps, and the University of the Third Age.

Gems of the collection

Major Mackay Scobie was the first curator at the library, and annotated the volumes of major Scottish regiments, which makes the collection unique, as well as a rich source of information.

The library holds detailed books of illustrated uniforms,  practical guides such as the illustrated ‘How to use your lance’ from 1825, an illustrated record of the battle of Waterloo and an amazing depiction of the funeral procession for the Duke of Wellington’s state funeral – a 7 foot long illustration.

A snapshot of other items in the collections included: books of regimental flags, Mess rule books, regimental histories and Army lists going back to the 1740s.

Another fascinating item was Scottish War artist William Simpson’s book of paintings detailing life in the Crimean war, including the charge of the light brigade. Finally, we were shown a gorgeous set of embroidered silk postcards, which would have been bought by soldiers to send home to loved ones.

War Museum JW 1

Report by Judy Wheeler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harpies, Fechters and Quines Festival 2017

This year’s Harpies, Fechters and Quines Festival focuses on women and film. Events can be booked via Eventbrite

Tales of One City

We’ve very pleased to announce the programme for this year’s Harpies, Fechters and Quines Festival, organised in partnership with the Glasgow Women’s Library and the Edinburgh Womens’ Group Bonnie Fechters.

This year the focus is on women and film – Reel Women – and includes many free film screenings. Come along and meet like-minded folk, learn something new or just sit back and enjoy.

Browse the full programme and book your tickets via Eventbrite
www.edinburghreads.eventbrite.co.uk

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Cyber crime – how safe are you online?

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) are hosting an event at Edinburgh Central Library, aimed at people aged 50 and over, to raise awareness of cyber scamming.

Tales of One City

mouseFind out more about cyber crime and how to avoid it at a free event hosted by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. They’ll be joined by a representative from Police Scotland and will give information on internet security including:

  • Current cyber scams
  • Advice about safe surfing
  • How prosecutors consider cyber scam cases.

The event is being held at Central Library at 2pm on Thursday 16 February 2017 and may be particularly useful to people aged 50+.

Reserve your free place via EventBrite  or contact Laura Connell for more information.

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