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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The ‘V’ Word

The next dayschool training event from LocScot, the Scottish CILIP Local Studies Group, is on the hot topic of volunteers and volunteering in libraries and the heritage sector. It will be held on Friday 20th January 2017 at the National Library of Scotland.

This LocScot dayschool tackles the contentious subject of volunteers in the workplace. The training day will look at examples of good practice of using volunteers within libraries, the heritage sector and communities; share our own experiences; and discuss ways to successfully define, plan, and manage volunteers and voluntary projects.

Guest speakers from the National Library of Scotland, Glasgow Women’s Library, Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Service at Edinburgh Libraries and the Living Memory Association will share their best practice and advice.

To book a FREE place or for more details, email david.smith@eastdunbarton.gov.uk

EDIT:  The contact email address should be: david.a.smith@eastdunbarton.gov.uk
Sorry for any inconvenience

J

ELISA visit to SPICe

A successful visit to the Scottish Parliament Information Centre took place on Monday 14th November.  The visit started with a tour of the Parliament building including the Debating Chamber.  SPICe staff, Simon and Edna, explained about the different parts of the building and functions and facilities that exist.  In the Debating Chamber we had a look at where different MSPs and officials, special advisers and the public sit and learned about how voting takes place and how it is tracked.  Also how the sessions are recorded and documented with substantive notes.
SPICe provide information for committees to make changes and recommendations.  They provide specialist skills and bring in other external experts and gather information in different places in order to inform and provide knowledge for research committees.

Then there were two presentations which were very interesting and informative.
Kathryn explained about the Collection Management and Development.  The collection consists of a small physical collection and a large electronic collection including PQs papers, Laid papers etc. They publish everything electronically rather than on paper.  They provide an ILL service, material for debates, online subject guides on relevant and current topics e.g. referendum and newspapers and journals.  The current topics are constantly changing so the collection has to be based on acquiring the latest information.

Some of the challenges, which are similar to many other libraries and information centres, are the budget and the shift to digital resources and how this impacts on staff and services.  They have to make decisions on what to buy, whether to borrow or buy an item and consider different licence agreements.

Shona delivered a presentation about Enquiries and the CRM.  She explained about the different types of enquiries and how they handle and record enquiries and provide management information.  The ‘customers’ of SPICe are MSPs and their staff, parliamentary committees and Scottish Parliament staff.  The enquiry desk is in the garden lobby which is on the main thoroughfare of the building so very accessible.
80% of the enquiries come through the central point.  On the enquiry desk, staff deal with face to face enquiries and telephone enquiries but not email so that staff can give their full attention to the enquirer and get all the details especially the deadline.  It is important for them to manage customer expectations especially about the ‘hot topics’ where in information has to be sourced for the first time or from 3rd parties.
Emails are dealt with off the desk and they work out whether it is a reference or research matter.  If a research matter then gets passed on to a researcher, if reference then it is dealt with by the enquiry team.  Most of the enquiries are received by email.
Enquiries are recorded in a database/IT helpdesk system which provides a knowledge base.  The subject is recorded e.g. justice, economy, finance, education, health etc.This provides an insight into the most popular subjects and also on recruitment and expertise.
They have a Customer Relationship Management system which is proving valuable for responding to customer needs, working out what the question is, pre-empting issues and complaints and providing timely information via electronic channels.
They run Open Days and inductions for individual members and offer support for changing responsibilities.  One of their future challenges is going to be how to supply information in a usable format in real time.

We had a look round SPICe, the library. The library supports the researchers who support the MSPs. The staff are there to provide answers to questions. The researchers suggest what is needed for acquisitions.

WP_20161114_014.jpg

ELISA visit to the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe)

There is an ELISA visit planned to the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) on Monday 14th November at 2.00pm.

The visit will consist of:
A tour of the Parliament building at 2pm – 2:45pm
A talk from Kathryn Appleby-Donald on the focus of the work of the Parliamentary collections team from 3:00 pm until 3:30 pm
A talk from Shona Skakle giving an overview of the Parliamentary enquiries service from 3:30 pm until 4:00 pm
A visit to the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) 4:00 pm until 4:30 pm

Tickets are available via Eventbrite
ELISA Visit to SPICe
Tickets will be available until Friday 11th November at 13:00 as names of attendees will need to be submitted to SPICe for security purposes
(Places for the visit are expected to be very popular so if you do reserve a ticket and subsequently cannot attend, please cancel your ticket or contact the organiser c.donlan@hw.ac.uk)

National Mining Museum visit, June 2016

On the 23rd June 2016 I took part in a fascinating visit to the National Mining Museum Scotland Library & Archive at Lady Victoria Colliery, Newtongrange.

The Museum has a large and varied archive, which includes from the records of the Lothian Coal Company, minute books and papers of the National Union of Mineworkers, and a collection of over 30000 largely National Coal Board plans and engineering drawings.

We were welcomed by the Keeper, Ellie Swinbank, who gave us into the hands of two friendly and knowledgeable volunteers for a tour.

Although there is no library professional employed there, George and Andrew are both ex employees of the mine with expert knowledge in the field. They generously showed us round their surprisingly varied collection.

Much of their work involves answering queries and helping with research. Any enquiries should be directed to Keeper Ellie Swinbank in the first instance.

After the library tour Ellie invited us to visit the main museum exhibition. This was excellent and I’d like to go back when I can take time to look around more. I’m also keen to take the pithead tour!

Thanks to Julie Arnot for organising this event.

Visit to Edinburgh Central Library

A tour of Edinburgh Central Library is taking place on Thursday 19th May 2.30pm – 4.00pm.

This is a chance to see recently refurbished spaces and to discuss some of the challenges facing a Victorian library in 21st Century.

There are only 12 tickets available for this event so please register as soon as possible via Eventbrite

ELISA visits to a wide variety of libraries in Edinburgh continue to prove popular and we have more events planned for  later in 2016

 

ELISA visit to RCPE

There was an ELISA visit to the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh Library (RCPE) on 1st December 2015.  The visit was successful and enjoyed by all those who attended.
Thanks to Lesa Ng for the photos

 New Library panoramic