LIS British Studies – New College Library

When I visited Scotland, we visited the New College Library in Edinburgh. This library was founded after the Church of Scotland dismantled. The founders were Thomas Chalmers and Thomas Guthry. Thomas Guthry and his wife ran the library together as some of the first librarians. The building where the library is currently was first built as a church. This is evident in the high vaulted ceilings and the stained glass windows. It is now the library for the School of Divinity.

The founders asked for donations at first to fill the shelves. They asked private citizens and women instead of ministers or students because it was believed that the ministers and students should not have to part with their private collections.

The collection consists of a quarter of a million items including 90,000 special collections and rare books, such as the first donations. This includes texts from all religions, while also having texts that explore no religion at all, so to fit anything a scholar of the School of Divinity might need. The original purpose for the library was to prepare students for the ministry.

There is an ongoing cataloging process but is extensive. There are at least 30,000 items already cataloged with many more to be included. There is still a large percentage that is not included in the current online catalog but these items are included in the physical catalog housed within the library.

The furniture still in the library is original from the 1930s but has been refurbished. There are still copies of both online and physical journals that are currently being published. This library uses the Library of Congress way of classification. The stacks within the storage space are structural so they are literally helping to hold up the building. The stacks are mainly open access for the students but the items that date pre-1936 have to be retrieved by a staff member, though the librarian could deny a request if they wanted.

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