Monday, 17 August 2009

The Scottish Poetry Library - 7/28/09

After visiting the Scottish Archives on Tuesday, July 28th, a small group of us went to check out the Scottish Poetry Library (SPL). It was a very nice little side trip and a fascinating library.

It was founded in 1984 and has since built a collection of print materials, tapes, and videos. The SPL specializes in contemporary poetry written in Scotland. The material is available in Scots, Gaelic and English, but historic Scottish poetry and contemporary works from almost every part of the world are present as well. Their collection consists of; Contemporary Scottish poetry, poetry from around the world, poetry for children, poetry on cassette, CD and video, current magazines and periodicals (over seventy of which are current titles), a reading room for members, computerized references and searches, and news cuttings. It also offers facilities for listening and performing, and special children and members' areas. Membership is free for those who sign up, and patrons can borrow up to six titles at one time for up to one month.

The SPL provides access to their holdings through outreach collections and a postal loan service for anyone unable to get to the library. Items can be borrowed from the SPL and mailed direct. A freepost label is included for the return of items.

They also offer an online service for patrons who only know a line or two from a poem but not the title or author. Patrons fill out an online form with as much information about the poem as they can remember and the librarians will help to identify it!

The Scottish Poetry Library offers some of its collection in formats that are accessible to visually impaired readers. Complementary catalogues of these collections are available in large print, on audio cassette or on disc as a word document. A Braille catalogue of poetry in Braille is also available for home borrowing.

I found the Scottish Poetry Index interesting. This is a unique research tool, produced by the Scottish Poetry Library with the help of The Scottish Library and Information Council, which provides access to a multitude of poetry and related material published in Scotland from the 1950s to the present. This tool proves valuable for academic research, and for a reader requiring a more thematic approach. The series is also a useful tool for studying the development of Scottish literary journals and the broader culture of Scotland during this period. It is published in volumes and available for sale from the Scottish Poetry Library. It is also fused with the Library's online catalogue.

You can visit the Scottish Poetry Library at

The Scottish Poetry Library
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