University Of Edinburgh Main Library

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University Of Edinburgh Main Library

University Of Edinburgh Main Library

Edinburgh University Library is one of the most important libraries of Scotland. It is located in Edinburgh. The University Library was moved in 1827 to William Playfair’s Upper Library in the Old College building. The collections in Edinburgh University Old College were moved in 1967 to the purpose-built eight-storey Main Library building at George Square. Today, Edinburgh’s university-wide library system holds over 3.8m books, e-books and e-journals in total.

The Main Library is situated on the south west corner of George Square, chosen because this was the quietest section of the square. Opened in 1967, the eight storey building was designed by Sir Basil Spence. The horizontal library exterior is deliberately designed to look like a bookcase; the architecture features brutalist elements but also clear oriental features. The exterior columns on the North side feature bracketing and are non-weight bearing in what may be seen as a humorous stab at the movements at the time following the principle that architecture must be truthful and form must follow function. Upon opening, it was the largest university library in the UK, with each floor an acre in size. Glasgow University’s similar, 12 storey, brutalist library was opened the following year.

Librarians of the University of Edinburgh

The current Librarian to the University of Edinburgh is Gavin McLachlan. The current Director of Library and University Collections is Jeremy Upton. Previous Directors, Keepers and Librarians to the University include: Kenneth Logie, Andrew Munro, Thomas Spier, Andrew Suttie, Francis Adamson, James Nairne, John Mien, John Stevenson, John Kniland, John Dunlop, William Somerville, William Henderson, Robert Henderson, George Stuart, James Robertson, Andrew Dalzel, George Dunbar, Andrew Duncan, Alexander Brunton, John Small, Hugh Webster, Alexander Anderson, Frank Carr Nicholson, Lauriston William Sharp, Erik Richard Sidney Fifoot, Brenda Moon, Ian Mowatt, Sheila Cannell, and John Scally .

The Special Collections Department has about 200,000 items in all branches of knowledge. There are 1,200 incunabula, about 9,000 printed books from 16th century, 35,000 from the 17th and 18th centuries, and 60,000 from the 19th century. An important part of this collection is German Reformation tracts.

Among the many fine collections of the library are two which were formerly in the possession of the 19th-century Shakespearian scholar James Halliwell-Phillipps. The first collection was acquired by the library between 1872 and 1889, including a Shakespearian collection. The second collection was acquired in 1964 by purchase from Sotheby’s.