Saturday, 2 August 2008

National Library of Scotland: July, 21 2008

(photo take from:

We were kindly greeted where ever we visited in Scotland and today's tour of the National Library of Scotland set this precedent. The National Library of Scotland was established in 1925 under the Act of Parliament. It boasts as the largest library in Scotland and one of the ten largest libraries in the world with approximately 13 million printed items, 100,000 manuscripts, 2 million maps, and about 25,000 newspapers and magazines.

Our tour guides gave us a brief overview of the library's history, but focused mainly on the John Murray Archive collection. This archive was purchased from the John Murray publishing house and includes over 150,000 items published during the years of 1768-1920. Our guides provided a wonderful overview of this collections conception and I eagerly awaited to view the exhibition.

The displays within the John Murray Archive were amazing. The room consisted of approximately 7 areas, each dedicated to different authors (i.e. Jane Austen). Each area included clothing and items specific to the respective author as well as an interactive computer that provided information on the items on display as well as the significance and connections the items had respect to one another. Included in this room was also a computer game that allowed visitors to get a "hands on" idea of the publishing process.

It is interesting to see how traditional libraries are actually turning more and more into museums and cultural centers. This allows for libraries to open up the spectrum of patrons that frequent these institutions and provide informational needs to a larger audience. In turn, the more different audiences are considered when deciding collection presentation, the more the collection will resonate with patrons. This transformation was evident when our guide explained to strategic planning that occurred prior to the exhibit opening and the consideration of educational standards and curriculum in the design and presentation of the collection.

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