Royal Botanic Garden’s Library , Edinburgh – Government Information Group visit

Report on the visit by Sarah Louise McDonald, Sherrif Court Librarian

On the 7th of July GIG group members visited the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Library, Scotland’s national collection of botanical and horticultural literature. Scottish Working Forum for Official Publications (SWOP) and Edinburgh Libraries Information Services Agency (ELISA) members were also invited to attend.

The main entrance to the Library and Archive can be accessed via the main entrance off Inverleith Row, though my colleagues and I took a brief stroll through the gardens before meeting Lorna Mitchell, the Head of the Library and Archives, in the Herbarium foyer which set the scene nicely!

The collection houses around 4,200 journal titles and 70,000 books, the earliest of which dates from 1485 and is a record of herbal medicinal plants which belonged to the Regius Keeper. Books were bought at this time by the Botanical Society of Edinburgh but treated like personal possessions so it was common for them to be sold off to supplement members’ incomes. After the establishment of the library in 1873 they were bought, returned or donated to form part of the early collection. It was only in 1964 when the library moved to their current building that the accessions were all housed together, though even now some treasures may be hidden away in offices!

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