ELISA Library and archive visits – coming soon!

ELISA have two exciting visits coming up soon and tickets are available now.

On October 8th at 2:00pm there is a visit to Historic Environment Scotland.
This will include an introduction to HES’ work and its Archive and collections with the opportunity to ask questions about the Canmore database, Scran, PastMap and ScotlandsPlaces.
There will also be a tour of the Search Room at HES’ Archives and other points of interest in the building.
Tickets are available via Eventbrite 
historic

On November 8th there is a visit to Lloyds Bank’s archives at Sighthill in Edinburgh.
The Archivist at Lloyds’ will conduct a tour of the Bank’s archive stores.
The visit offers an opportunity to learn more about records management and enquiry handling within a private-sector organisation and compare this with the practice of, say, the National Records of Scotland, recently visited by ELISA.
This visit is open to all and will have a broad appeal to colleagues working in conservation and with local and family history records.
Tickets are available via Eventbrite 

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ELISA visit to St Cecilia’s Hall

The ELISA spring programme of visits is going well and proving very popular.  Most visits have ‘sold out’ although there are a few tickets for the visit to Boroughmuir High School still available.  We now have wait-lists in operation for all events so please sign up to the wait-list and if a place becomes available you will be contacted automatically via Eventbrite.  Also please remember if you do book a place on one of our visits but can’t attend or have a change of plans, it’s easy to cancel your ticket through Eventbrite.

The latest news is that we have a visit to St Cecilia’s Hall planned for Wednesday, 13 June 2018 from 15:00 to 16:30.

Tickets available here on Eventbrite

St Cecilia’s Hall is home to one of the most important historic musical instrument collections anywhere in the world.  It is Scotland’s oldest purpose-built concert hall. Originally built by the Edinburgh Musical Society in 1762, the Georgian venue is a real hidden gem, tucked away in the heart of Edinburgh’s Cowgate.
Having undergone a £6.5 million renovation St Cecilia’s Hall and Music Museum is now the Edinburgh University’s first visitor attraction and a fantastic addition to Edinburgh’s offer of museums and event venues.
St Cecilia’s Hall comprises of a Concert Room, hosting a range of concerts and public events, and a Music Museum, which is open to the public and brings together the University’s historic collection of musical instruments for the first time.
Dr Sarah Deters will give a tour of the museum and collections.

 

 

ELISA visit to Edinburgh Tool Library

Report by Jennifer Higgins

After a long hiatus, what better way to re-launch ELISA’s library visits than with an outing to the warmly welcoming, buzzing Edinburgh Tool Library? This visit saw a group of librarians assemble at the Library’s Custom Lane workshop to haphazardly put up (rather than knock down) Little Free Libraries under the patient and charismatic watch of founder Chris Hellawell. We’d been invited to join the Library’s Tools4Life programme, one of a raft of projects launched by the Library since its inception in 2014 that mentors young people looking for employment in the skilled trades. Trainees learn how to use and maintain tools and demonstrate them to members with guided supervision from retired, skilled tradespeople. Kindly lending their expertise were good-spirited volunteer Dennis and apprentice Lee doing their best to keep a level head as flat-pack library anarchy ensued.

For those who might have been expecting a leisurely afternoon to down tools, this visit pleasantly delivered the opposite as we were put straight to work building the libraries popularised by the US movement. Little Free Libraries, as the Library profession is perhaps all too familiar, are intended for the not-for-profit exchange of reading materials between local communities. With the help of volunteers, Edinburgh Tool Library are building and distributing the wooden boxes across the city with the democratic aim of making reading materials more widely accessible. As we rolled up our sleeves and sported our safety goggles, Chris spoke about ETL’s rapid construction from loaning members tools out of a disused Police Box on Leith Walk (exactly like a lending library but with tools instead of books) to offering all sorts of civic-minded services in co-operation with local charities, community trusts and the council including a satellite service for lending at Edinburgh City Libraries. From skilled apprenticeship programmes for young people to ramp-building for building accessibility to a mobile soup kitchen for people experiencing homelessness, the Library’s projects are numerous and varied. Much of the delivery relies on the willingness of the Library’s ‘Tooligans’; volunteer recruits who lend their skills and time to projects taking place within their communities. It’s a gung-ho, do-it-yourself, build it and they will come (and they will keep building) community culture that puts ownership back in the hands of the people who are quite literally, building the service from the grassroots up. This was reflected in the participatory format of our visit as, in teams, all of us learned the basics of using a power tool to fit a screw. It’s the standard library drill: ETL passes on its knowledge and services to equip its users with the tools needed to create something themselves. This extends to its environmental ethos which has Edinburgh communities donating tools, equipment, materials, pots of paint, anything that can be salvaged or recycled and put to use anew. Timber left in the aftermath of the Edinburgh Festival and from what used to be the organic food shop Earthy, has been reclaimed by the Library and is being used to make new things. Though not driftwood that has been accumulating along Scotland’s East Coast since a cargo vessel was wrecked in last month’s stormy weather – Chris wistfully added!

There’s a swathe of appeal in this buccaneer attitude which is attracting friends and funding. Edinburgh Tool Library runs as a charity yet its financial dexterity has so far been successful in securing employment for a small team of staff which continues to grow with a recent recruitment drive for three new networking posts to help manage the Library’s expansion across Edinburgh. There are the nitty-gritties of a social enterprise at work; charitable grants add to the pot but building commissions for local organisations might also be undertaken following successful pilot projects. The Library’s subscription model too, is largely capable of covering its overheads by charging £20 (or whatever members can afford) for annual membership to loan tools and equipment. Workspace and practical tutorials offering DIY advice are supplementary services which, ELISA can vouch, are welcoming to even the most amateur carpenter!

That said, there was palpable relief among the group as we turned from our work-benches to Chris’ laptop on which the nuts and bolts of ‘the database’ were demonstrated, The library management system and catalogue follows the same premise as any lending library’s where members sign up, search, borrow and return tools. Since being approached by Edinburgh City Libraries, Edinburgh Tool Library operates at certain times out of public library locations at Craigmillar, Portobello and Piershill. There’s been varied success with good uptake at Portobello Library while Craigmillar and Piershill have lagged. The proximity of Piershill to Portobello and the conglomerate nature of social services at Craigmillar could explain the disparity though Chris may have hit the nail on the head later in the conversation when discussing the Library’s diverse user groups. While the Library loans to people who couldn’t afford the tools otherwise, it also loans to people with a low carbon, eco-friendly philosophy who use libraries because they don’t want to own a lot of stuff. If sharing is caring, then a shared set of ethical principles may also be what is binding to the Tool Library’s increasing popularity. Reference to the Library of Things in Hillsboro, Oregon a librarian-run venture (with ukuleles and gold-panning kits for loan!) suggested how public libraries might expand their collections in equally sustainable ways or leave it to social enterprises to get the job done. The community-run Library of Things in London for example, charges access to loan from its collection; a trend also symptomatic of the revival currently being under-gone by the subscription library.

This isn’t necessarily all about Netflix convenience and on-demand service availability. What was most striking about our visit is how Edinburgh Tool Library is successfully trading on its big-heartedness and authenticity: they genuinely seem to care about sustainability and supporting people to become valued members of their communities. To sum up, we were shown a YouTube clip of the Library’s ‘Challenge Anneka’-style makeover at Balgreen Primary School’s playground. Other achievements Chris cites are supporting someone who had been living in refuge to coat the walls of their new home with donated paint and a Men’s Shed for skilled craftspeople of different nationalities who share little language but meet at the workshop to share their skills and to socialise. The parallel between such anecdotes and public library service experiences was an unforeseen outcome of the visit which, while acknowledging the different funding mechanisms and volunteer nature of the Tool Library, concurs on egalitarian, social and educational objectives. It’s up for debate whether the library profession will ever be reconciled with the community ownership ideals behind Little Free Libraries, but ETL’s openness to our visit and the interest this shows in librarians’ input to its projects shows a creative nimbleness and open-mindedness to learn from others. That seems a solid foundation on which to be building a library using very limited resources. A good workman never did blame his tools.

 

Report by Jennifer Higgins (ELISA Training & Development Group)
Acquisitions Librarian, National Library of Scotland.

ELISA programme of library visits 2018

ELISA’s programme of visits to libraries for 2018 is now live and tickets are available through Eventbrite.

There are 4 visits to interesting libraries planned:

  1. Edinburgh Tool Library on 29th March 2018 at 2:00pm  Tickets 
    Edinburgh Tool Library describes itself as “the UK’s first tool library, promoting sharing as a way of reducing our environmental impact.” Its members or, ‘Tooligans’, can lend tools from the Library at a number of community locations around Edinburgh including selected Edinburgh City Libraries.
  2. The Library of Mistakes on 26th April 2018 at 2:00pm  Tickets
    The Library of Mistakes exists to allow students, professionals and members of the general public to study financial history and to understand how finance has worked, rather than how it should work if key unrealistic assumptions are made.
  3. The Supreme Courts Library on 14th May 2018 at 2:00pm  Tickets
    ELISA are invited to tour the Supreme Courts Library serving judicial members and support staff of The Court of Session, Scotland’s supreme civil court and The High Court of Judiciary, Scotland’s supreme criminal court.
  4. The Scottish Poetry Library on 5th or 6th July at 2:00pm  Tickets Tickets
    Scotland’s one and only designated lending library for poetry is opening its doors to ELISA over two afternoons. The Library makes accessible poems in a variety of formats and provides a variety of resources for poets and researchers through its collections, workshops and expanding website

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ELISA visit to Heriot-Watt University Library

An opportunity to look round Heriot-Watt University Library and see how a typical academic library works. The library consists of 4 floors of study spaces, books and other resources.  A guided tour highlighting changes that have taken place over the last 2 years in response to student and university demands.
Brief talks by Information Services staff, Head of Academic and Learner Services and Head of Resources and Facilities regarding the strategic and operational challenges of an integrated service.

Refreshments available and networking!

Tickets available via Eventbrite
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/elisa-visit-to-heriot-watt-university-library-tickets-18325286425