Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Monday, July 27

Our morning began with a visit to the National Library of Scotland. Our guide shared interesting information with us about the library, its role, and goal of "increas[ing] access to [their] collections". Founded in 1710 as a legal deposit library, it was originally known as "The Library of Advocates". The collection reflects Scotland and all that is written or published within. The archives boast quite a collection of books and ephemera from Scottish authors and one can only hope that native author J. K. Rowling will add her manuscripts and other Harry Potter memorabilia to this terrific facility.

While at the library we viewed a wonderful exhibit on immigration. The focus was on actual people and the stories they told as they migrated to other countries and left Scotland behind or immigrated to Scotland. Exhibits included suitcases filled with letters, diaries, clothing, and other items that immigrants would have used or taken with them. A touching and poignant way to gain insight into the immigrant experience and some of the travails that they may have experienced.

Since we had a bit of time to visit Edinburgh we strolled along the Royal Mile up to the Castle. Due to time constraints we were not able to tour the castle but did look around a bit and were able to enjoy the view from this high point above the city. As we walked back down the hill we came upon the historic St. Giles' Cathedral. We spent some time wandering through this beautiful cathedral enjoying the gorgeous stained glass windows and interesting architecture. We located the cafe downstairs and enjoyed a delicious lunch before heading to the Edinburgh Central Library. This Carnegie library was founded in 1890 and still occupies the original building (though renovations and alterations have taken place throughout the years). The gracious librarians there provided us with a wonderful tour. One of the librarians, Ian Wright, showed us around the lovely old building. We even got to see the stacks where many of the titles (including duplicates) are tucked away and retrieved when needed by patrons.

A wonderful renovation of the ground floor reading room had been recently completed. The room has been restored to the original color scheme and superfluous additions have been removed. The room features beautiful egg and dart molding, grand wooden columns, and even a bit of gilding. We toured the departments housing the children's and music collections and then retired to a meeting room where we were treated with tea and cookies. Colm Linnane of the Reading and Learning Team shared interesting experiences with us about his time working with young adults in group homes. His practical tips and information were appreciated by us all.

Jessica and I decided to hike back down the hill towards Holyrood and visit the Palace where the Queen stays when she visits Scotland. My sister had visited Holyrood on a previous trip to Scotland and had mentioned what a wonderful experience it had been. I'm glad we had time to tour the Palace because it was well worth the trip. I'd have to say that it was one of the highlights of the trip and hope to be able to visit again and spend more time there. The rooms were beautifully appointed and the audio guide that accompanied the tour was well-done and full of interesting history and tidbits. Walking where royalty has trod and seeing where Mary, Queen of Scots lived made for a memorable afternoon.

After a yummy meal of Scottish Salmon and new potatoes at a pub along the Royal Mile, we took the bus back to Dalkeith. We missed our stop initially and had to switch buses. The passengers and driver on the bus were most helpful in pointing out our stop on the next go-around! I spent a quiet and restful evening at the County Hotel in central Dalkeith and even watched a bit of Scottish television!

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