As I stated in my previous blog the time that I spent in Edinburgh was my favorite of the entire trip, and the libraries there are doing some incredible things. As the Edinburgh Central Library is the public library for the city of Edinburgh it was very interesting for me to be able to see some of the similarities and differences between the library in Edinburgh and the public library that I currently work for. It was great to see that the staff were really excited about the work that they were doing and proud to be sharing it with my class.
The Edinburgh Central Library is housed in a Victorian era building which opened in 1890. The library contains a local history library and in fact it was the first library in the United Kingdom to have a local history collection. The library collects any and all materials which relate to the town or the history of the town, in fact this collection is so important that it takes up an entire floor of the library! Due to the age of the building the library faces significant financial hurdles, which is common among older libraries across the United Kingdom. Much like the Barbican Library in London the Edinburgh Central Library does not require proof of residence in order to get a library card or use the facilities.
One of the things that surprised me the most is that while the Edinburgh Central Library is the largest lending library in Edinburgh they have only introduced self service checkout machines within the last five years. Additionally they still actively use their card catalog, although anything that was purchased for the library after 1984 no longer goes into the card catalog. Our tour guide told us that having a librarian with specialized knowledge was very important to have especially since not everything that they have in their collection is available to view in an online catalog, although it is difficult to sustain specialized librarians as they eventually retire and often there will not be enough funds to replace the position.
One really innovative thing that the Edinburgh central library is doing is , they have created an app it is a fully interactive app, patrons can even renew materials from their respective devices and this app is the first of its kind in the United Kingdom. One thing that they attribute to their continued success is that they make an effort to consult with their patrons and consult them before making changes that way patrons feel valued and like their money is being well spent in the long run.
For more information about the Edinburgh Central Library click here!