Special reading room official opening

Major improvements at National Library

A major improvement to reading facilities at the National Library of Scotland is marked today with the official opening of a new Special Collections Reading Room by Scotland’s Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop.

The specially designed reading room is a further step in plans to improve the research facilities and customer experience at the Library.

It offers a number of advantages over the previous reading facilities including a doubling of the space from 18 to 40 desks, quicker access to material in the collections and improved security.

It is designed for consulting material from the Library’s special collections such as manuscripts, rare books and music. The audio-visual facilities available in the new reading room will also make it easier for people to use the Library’s audio collections which comprise some 6,000 items.

Ms Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs welcomed the development:

 “The National Library of Scotland is one of Europe’s major research and reference libraries, offering world-class special collections as a rich resource to promote Scotland’s unique heritage and distinctive culture, and to enhance our learning about Scotland, its people and its place in the world.

“The new reading room is an excellent addition to the Library’s existing range of modern services and facilities.”

Other advantages of the new reading room are:

  • The creation of a secure reserve area for rare books, music and manuscripts within the reading room itself making such material available on demand.
  • Large table to ensure plans, maps, large format books and manuscripts are consulted safely.  Current desks are too small to accommodate many large collection items.
  • The creation of a group consultation area which can be used by small groups of users together without disturbing other readers
  • Significantly improved security with a dedicated invigilation desk, high resolution digital security cameras and a separate desk to greet customers and check personal items entering and leaving the reading room.

Darryl Mead, Deputy National Librarian, said: “The new reading room offers a wonderful research environment for consulting the vast range of material in our special collections. It combines excellent facilities for researchers while safeguarding the national collection.”

It is based on the top floor of the Library on George 1V Bridge, Edinburgh and was used previously as office accommodation for Library staff.

4 October 2012

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