The Central Library in Edinburgh is the public library that we got a chance to see. We did not see many public libraries so the ones we did were always particularly interesting to me.
It was opened in 1890 and is a Carnegie Library. George Washington Brown who won a competition for the design designed the building. Within the library there is a Reference Library, Fine Arts Library, Children’s Library, Music Library, the Central Lending Collection, and a Teen Area. These different specialized libraries were created in the 1930s before that all the subjects were in the Reference Library. In the reference library the information contained there can be located in two ways depending on its date. If the information is pre-1980 it is in the card catalog but post 1980 it is online. Each of the different libraries within the Central Library have their own areas and rooms within the same building and they have changed over the years. However, the Fine Arts library has always been located in the same room for its entire existence.
The Fine Arts library has books about more than just paintings and sculptures, they include fashion and photography and all sorts of artistic mediums. They like to have a focus on Scottish artists and have less electronic sources. The books in this library are a mix of reference and lending because art books can be so expensive. If the books cost a certain amount or more they become reference books.
After our tour around the library we sat down in a conference room for a presentation by one of the library managers, Jim Thompson. His presentation told us all about the strategies that the library has had for modernizing and updating. Especially for keeping in mind what the patrons need from their library and even more what they can do to make the building and the websites more user friendly. I have to admit in presentations like that I usually zone out, Mr. Thompson held my attention the whole time. It was interesting and funny and informative. I learned so much about how they worked to understand their patrons and their library.
The thing that stood out the most for me was the Children’s Library. I love the children’s area in libraries, it is always so much fun and so colorful and the Central Library’s area was no different. The Children’s Library has different rooms for different ages and has nooks in the walls with cushions for reading and beanbags and fun lights in the walls and colors. It was so cute, and had recently been redone. There is also a craft room. They do activities for kids and the craft room gets a lot of action and is open at all times for use. The activities that the library does range from Book Bug, story and song hour to encourage parents to sing with their kids, to Mythical Maze the summer reading program. It was a fantastic children’s library.