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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Report by Judy Wheeler
Gaiman uses simple language to tell these stories but they are deeply compelling and evocative nonetheless. Old as these tales are – and well known to me – his simple, elegant words paint new and vivid pictures in my mind. Thor with his red beard and comic stupidity; beautiful, haughty Freya… and Loki – who “makes the world more interesting but less safe”.
There’s a lot of humour and lightheartedness in these myths but the whole mood is somewhat darkened by Gaiman’s prophecy of Ragnarok:
“This will be the age of cruel winds, the age of people who become as wolves, who prey upon each other, who are no better than wild beasts. Twilight will come to the world, and the places where the humans live will fall into ruins, flaming briefly, then crashing down and crumbling into ash and devastation”
I found this passage eerily familiar. Are we now living through the end times? Is Ragnarok almost upon us?…
I devoured this book like a wolf devouring the moon. Neil Gaiman’s reputation as a Bard of Epic Standing is now assured in my opinion. Highly recommended.
Review via: A Very Fine Library
TREASURES ON DISPLAY: The Book Beautiful
Choice books from private presses inspired by the late 19th century British arts and crafts movement are matched with some of the very earliest printed books in the Library’s collections. By conceiving the book as a unified whole in which format, page design, type, illustration, binding and raw materials all work together harmoniously, private presses were able to create works of art, the ideal of the ‘Book Beautiful.’
Dates: Open to Sunday 13 March 2016
Venue: George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1EW
This is such a lovely idea for an exhibition. Well done Central Library – and very well done Mavis! – via Tales of one city
When Mavis started work as a library assistant in central library a few years back one of the tasks she was given was to check returned books for pencil marks and other damage.
While doing this though she came across all sorts of items readers had used as bookmarks and forgot to remove: photographs, business cards, flyers, children’s drawings, train timetables, postcards, wedding invitations….
Mavis asked what to do with these objects. She was told they should be binned. Which she did. For about a week.
“As the rule made no sense to me I ignored it and started to collect them”, Mavis says .
“I didn’t have any sort of plan but something told me that maybe one day even one person could be reunited with a treasured photograph or perhaps a keepsake they thought was lost forever”.
Today is that day.
Many of the items Mavis held onto are the focal point of an exhibition ‘Lost in a good book’, currently on display in Central Library, until 11th June.
Will you see something that looks familiar?
Can you recognise a “special” book when you see one?
There is nothing like a charity book sale to highlight last year’s “must reads” – the bestsellers that flew off the bookshop shelves but which many of us do not want to keep on our own bookshelves. Would their authors be depressed to see countless copies of their “bestseller” stacked high at second-hand booksales? Maybe they’re just pleased that they’ve been read and are available to be read again!
If you are interested in a particular subject – art, history or travel, for example – would you like to help sort, price and arrange these books for a book sale?
Of more interest to many veteran book-sale attendees are the “specials”. Often arriving in a box of mixed books from a house clearance, these books can be first editions, signed copies, rare annuals, maps or sought-after Scottish materials.
If you have the skills to spot “specials” amongst the thousands of books that arrive at the Holy Corner Christian Aid Book Sale, and would like to be part of a happy and fulfilling few weeks of voluntary work, please contact Elspeth Yeo, who can provide more information – contact details are below.
Even if you can’t spot a “special” but would like to be part of a great team that delivers a unique book-sale experience at Holy Corner, please get in touch. It doesn’t matter how many or how few hours you can do – it is the taking part that is important.
The Holy Corner Christian Aid Book Sale will be in Morningside United Church, Holy Corner from Saturday 9th May–Saturday 16th May this year. Volunteers are required during that week, but also during the three to four weeks before the sale (including in the evenings). Work at clearing up after the sale continues from Monday 18th –Wednesday 20th May.
For more information please contact:
Miss Elspeth Yeo
Tel: 0131 229 6652
Email: Elspeth Yeo