Saturday, August 15, 2015

Research: Edinburgh Central Library

Edinburgh Central Library
Reference Library
Located just up the street from J. K. Rowling's famous haunt, The Elephant House, Edinburgh Central Library holds all the charm and and beauty one associates with Scotland. 

Since its completion 125 years ago, the Edinburgh Central Library has been out of space for the collections, which cater to lending, reference, and study. Apart from fiction and children's, the library holds an extensive reference collection on Scottish history, which supports its Scotland and Edinburgh Collections, comprised of books and photos. 

In supplement to the onsite collections, the library offers online resources compiled from digitized documents and photos from the library's holdings. Capital Collections, Our Town Stories, and Edinburgh Collected are the three resources devoted to digital collections.

Capital Collections is the result of a mass digitization project focusing on rare and unique materials in the Edinburgh Collection. The front end for this collection launched in 2008, and the site traffic has steadily increased since.

Our Town Stories is the most interactive of the online resources. Using its map interface, users can access records by the physical location they reference. This includes historical maps that can be overlaid on the current map, a photo slider between archival and modern photos of the same area, and information and documents concerning specific areas of Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Collected is the newest online resource, and the most unique. Users can log into the site and submit their own collections of photos and documents. This allows the public to archive their personal collections for public viewing. Users contribute images and metadata in this situation, creating an entirely crowdsourced collection.

Edinburgh Central Library's digitization and online endeavors are massive and fantastic. Aside from the archival materials, the library endeavors to archive the present. The imaging for digitization here is performed by a photographer, and part of his job is recreating archival photographs for the image slider (Then and Now), and photographing Edinburgh in the present. I've never encountered this kind of active archiving, where records are created for the archive, rather than absorbed from another entity.

Since my research centers on digitization, and I'm interested in the field myself, this was a spectacular visit, and Library Development Officer Allison Stoddart is a fantastic resource for my research.

Check out Edinburgh Central Library online!

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