Today we went to the University of Edinburgh New College Library. It began in 1843 because of the formation of the Free Church of Scotland’s New College. The library has over 250,000 volumes and is one of the largest theological libraries in the United Kingdom. In their beginnings, they asked for book donations from women, private individuals, authors, and publishers and in their first year, they received 10,000 books. In 1936, the library opened in its current building which was a church, they repurposed the pews from the church as shelves, and they have furniture from the 1930s in use. In the library, they have self-issuing machines and five floors of materials. Of those materials, only 60% of the items are online in their catalog and most of that are special collections.
For our tour there, we were in one group at the beginning where we were given a brief history of the library and the building that it is in now. Then we were split up in to two groups: one group to stay behind and look at the special collections items that they pulled for us and the other group to get a tour of three of the five floors. I was in the first group so I was able to see The Book of Common Prayer from 1637, the Galileo: Dialogus de Systemate Mundi from 1663, an historical geography of the Old and New Testament from 1809 which has a unicorn in the picture (at the bottom of the second picture), Calvin: Institutes of Christian Religion from 1536, and more. Then we switched with the other group. Our tour started on the first floor where our tour guide showed us the periodicals which are still used and demanded by patrons which is pretty awesome because most patrons in other libraries that we have seen prefer online resources rather than print resources.
Next on our tour, we went down one floor to view the stacks. The stacks are made into the framework so they cannot move the stacks or change them without putting the building in danger. This also goes for the floor below it that we looked at. This is unfortunate because they cannot change it to add more storage for books so they have to store their books at an outside storage facility. However, they have to find a new one because their current outside storage is full.
The best thing about visiting this library was being able to hear about the patrons wanting to come in and use the periodicals rather than viewing them online.