If there is one place in this world I could be right now the Central Library in Edinburgh is it! If the Barbican had not already sold me on public libraries than the Central Library would have. This was our second visit to a public library and like the Barbican from the first time I stepped through those doors it felt like the place I’m going to be working at in a year. No, it felt the perfect marriage of the old and the new. Built in 1890 in the French Renaissance style, the outside has remained mainly unchanged but once you walk through the stone and wooden doorway, signs of the 21st century are everywhere. Just inside the doors are four touch screens tables, two of which contain a map and information about the library, while the other two are equipped with an interactive game for students. Further in and you find the self-checkout stations and the unmanned “staff desk” with four computer terminals.
Our tour began in the Reference room, which was located at the top of a beautiful stone staircase. The large and light filled Reference room still looked like it did when it was first constructed in 1890 and the card catalog along the wall was still in use. Next, we visited the Fine Arts Library before heading to the beautifully renovated Children’s library (oh, to be a kid again!).
Our tours converged where we had begun, on the second level of library, where the teen and music section were located. Once again I was super impressed with the music section, with its endless scores and practice pianos, and once again wondered why our public libraries don’t have this. Or maybe they do and I’ve just been going to the wrong ones. Our tour concluded with a talk by Jim Thompson, Development and Quality Manager, while we were treated to a delightful afternoon snack of tea and biscuits. Mr. Thompson’s talk was very informative and inspiring. The Central Library is one of 26 libraries in Edinburgh, yet it is the goal of the library board to make sure that each one is serving the needs of their community to the best of their ability. They offer reading and outreach programs as well as high-tech ways to access the library. And how cool was the “Then and Now” slider that showed Edinburgh then melted into Edinburgh Now? I was absolutely blown away by what the library staff was doing at the Central Library and how much they cared about their patrons and their heritage. And jokes aside, if you are hiring, please let me know where I can send my resume because that’s the kind of team I know I want to be a part of.
To discover more about what the libraries in Edinburgh check them out at http://yourlibrary.edinburgh.gov.uk/