ELISA mini-quiz: Emily Prince, Scottish Poetry Library

Our first mini-quiz in a while comes from Emily Prince from the Scottish Poetry Library:

Your name:  Emily Prince AALIA (CP)
Library:  Scottish Poetry Library
Job Title:  Librarian

 

How did you become a librarian/what was your career path?
After completing an undergraduate degree in creative writing in Melbourne, Australia, I was looking into opportunities for further study. I’ve always loved books, and was working casually as a shelver in the university library where I had undertaken my degree. A friend from work had enrolled in a distance learning Masters in Information Studies at Charles Sturt University (also in Australia) and convinced me to give it a try – I fell in love with it almost immediately. Since graduating in 2014, I have worked in public and academic libraries in Australia, before moving to Scotland in 2016. I worked at an academic library in Scotland before going full-time at the Scottish Poetry Library (SPL).

 

Did you need any specialist training for your current role?
The SPL has a very unique collection, and is not governed by any larger organisation or council, so we have an unusual amount of autonomy in how we manage our collections. This also means, however, that the collections benefit from a wealth of specialist knowledge. I was very lucky when I started to be working with staff who had spent decades developing these collections, and also got a crash course in Scottish poetry while doing so. Constantly reading poetry helps with ongoing training!

 

What makes your library/department unique?
The focus of our collection! Poetry libraries are not common, and we are a national authority on Scottish poetry. We also have a largely physical collection, mainly due to lack of funds to support digital resources. This means I still update and maintain collections that some people might refer to as ‘old-fashioned’, like our cuttings collection which is largely comprised of actual newspaper and magazine clippings focused on Scottish poetry that we manually locate, cut out, and catalogue.

 

What is your favourite aspect of the job?
Working with poetry, and cataloguing. There aren’t too many libraries these days where the cataloguing is done in-house, and it is one of my favourite activities!

 

What has been your most complex/funny/unusual enquiry?
Where do I start? I hold lead responsibility for the enquiry service, and my favourites are the ones where people ask you to identify a fragment of poetry that they have forgotten the origin of. It’s usually a 50/50 chance that we will actually locate an answer for some of the more unusual or rare fragments, but we do our best! Other enquiries come from students doing dissertations on Scottish poets. I did some extensive work for an academic locating mentions of grandmothers in the work of Jackie Kay. There are also ‘lost’ poems that we have been asked about several times over the years that still elude us – and one of them is about the ‘cludgie [toilet] on the stair’ in a Glasgow tenement. If anyone has heard of this one, do get in touch!

Thank you so much for that Emily! Most entertaining and informative. Please contact Emily at the SPL, dear readers, if you have any information on that mysterious cludgie poem…

And, if you’d like to submit a mini-quiz of your own, you can find the details here: mini-quiz.

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Summer Gathering and AGM at RBGE

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We had a great time at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh on the 10th July for our Summer Gathering and AGM. Many thanks to librarian Lorna Mitchell for hosting us, and for her talk – sadly not in the the library due to emergency building work there. Another highlight was our visit the lovely Botanic Cottage.

Working Group reports: 

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Twitter Moment: 

ELISA visit to St Cecilia’s Hall

Report by Judy Wheeler

On Wednesday 13th June, ELISA hosted a visit to St Cecilia’s Hall, in Edinburgh’s Cowgate. We were lucky enough to be given a guided tour of The Music Museum’s Collections by our very knowledgeable guide Sarah!

Entrance to the museum is from Niddry Street in the Cowgate – since undergoing a £6.5 million renovation, St Cecilia’s Hall and Music Museum is open Tuesday to Saturday, and is free to visit: https://www.ed.ac.uk/visit/museums-galleries/st-cecilias

St Cecilia’s Hall itself is Scotland’s oldest purpose-built concert hall, built by the Edinburgh Musical Society in 1762. We heard a little of the hall’s history – it has been put to many different uses over the years, including a church, a Masonic Lodge, and a Dr Bell’s School, as well as a Cobbler’s and swing dance club to name a few. Luckily now it is a concert hall again, hosting a range of concerts and public events – and it is claimed that it is the only place in the world, it is claimed, that you can hear 18th-century music being played on 18th-century instruments in an 18th- century setting!

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The Music Museum houses the university’s collection of musical instruments from all over the world – a huge collection of 6000 instruments, with around 500 on display. We were treated to a tour of the keyboard instruments first of all – 36 in total, including harpsichords, virginals, spinets, clavichords and pianofortes – if you don’t know the difference, I would encourage you to visit the museum 🙂

Most of the early keyboard instruments were designed for domestic settings, to be played in the home – usually by ladies. Due to this, a lot of the time they needed to be on a fairly high stand, to make room for the skirts and corset of the musicians! The materials used also hinted at the social standing of the owner – instruments belonging to the middle classes would be less lavishly decorated, or made of materials that were cheaper at the time. The shape of some of the instruments was even designed so that the lady playing the keys could continue to flirt as she did so.

We also saw a Chamber organ dating from 1775 – the air had to be pumped manually through the instrument, so a ‘Blower’ was required to operate the pump – a tiring job.

We moved on to the rest of the collection – instruments on display included a Hurdy Gurdy  – a kind of mechanical violin where a wheel is turned to make the sound.
Can you spot it in this display case?
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The museum traces the development of the instruments, with early examples through to more modern instruments – below you can see from the recorder, wooden and ivory flutes – and even one made of crystal – through to the modern metal flute.

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I’d happily tell you more, but will let the pictures speak for themselves – I’d definitely recommend a visit and you can have a sneak preview on the website too: http://www.stcecilias.ed.ac.uk/

Report by Judy Wheeler
ELISA Training & Development Group

ELISA Summer Gathering, 10th July 2018 Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh

 

cofI hope you can join us our ELISA Summer Gathering on the 10th July at 3.45pm at Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden.

We will meet at RBGE Reception, 20a Inverleith Row.

The event will include an illustrated talk on the history of the Gardener’s Cottage by the Librarian, Lorna Mitchell, followed by refreshments in the Cottage, our quick AGM and a chance to catch up with colleagues.

Please register on eventbrite if you wish to attend

ELISA events #Edinburgh

2018 is proving to be a busy and interesting year for ELISA events.

There have been visits to:
The Edinburgh Tool Library
The Library of Mistakes
The Supreme Courts Library
Boroughmuir High School

There was also the exciting Librarian Superhero workshop event

During June there are visits planned to St Cecilia’s Hall and to the Scottish Poetry Library.
There is also a joint ELISA and CILIPS East event which is a newly launched professional reading group ‘Librarians Uncorked’ 

 

Librarians Uncorked – reading group

Librarians Uncorked is a new reading group set up by ELISA and CILIPS EAST.

The first meeting will be Thursday 28th June 5:30pm @ The Wash Bar
Librarians Uncorked

Harpies, Fechters and Quines 2018 – Women, War and the Book

Edinburgh Libraries is working in association with the Bonnie Fechters, a local women’s group, and with Scotland’s War, the Glasgow Women’s Library, the Scottish Poetry Library and the Workers’ Educational Association to deliver a range of activities.

Tales of One City

Monday’s launch of the Harpies, Fechters and Quines festival saw the annual 2 week programme of events off to a flying start!

Edinburgh Libraries is working in association with the Bonnie Fechters, a local women’s group, and with Scotland’s War, the Glasgow Women’s Library, the Scottish Poetry Library and the Workers’ Educational Association to deliver a range of activities. These include talks, workshops, an exhibition, a film and a concert.  As a result, there are lots of opportunities to come along and join in.

Tapestry kindly loaned for display by the Workers’ Educational Association stitchers (Mezzanine, Central Library)

Whether you want to sing along at the Lena Ashwell concert, produce some creative writing, experience early film or simply look at the commemorative tapestries you are warmly welcome. You’ll find details of all the forthcoming events at www.edinburghreads.eventbrite.co.uk.

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