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Posts Tagged ‘cataloguing’

Treasures of New College Library : The Longforgan Free Church Ministers Library

Longforgan LibraryThe Longforgan Free Church Ministers Library is a collection of handsomely bound volumes, particularly rich in patristic and theological texts. The rare books in the collection include Knox’s Liturgy (1611), the Babylonian Talmud and Athanasii opera (1600). Each volume is embossed in gold with the distinctive stamp of the Longforgan Library.  It is kept in its own custom made glazed shelving, now housed at the entrance to New College Library and in the David Welsh Reading Room.

The Longforgan Library was originally gifted to the Free Church at Longforgan, Dundee by Mr David Watson, son of the Rev Dr Charles Watson,  who was the owner of Bullionfield Paperworks at Invergowrie. The original deed of gift records that the books were given along with the bookcases and £100 invested in stocks and shares for the library’s upkeep(1). The library that was formally handed over to the Deacons Court at Longforgan Free Church (who acted as trustees) had its own printed catalogue in a bound volume, still in use at New College Library today.  Longforgan2

The next chapter in its history came in 1962  when ownership of the Longforgan Free Church Minister’s Library was transferred to New College Library. The move had been set in motion by the Revd James Torrance (who had been minister at Longforgan) and Professor T.F. Torrance (who was then curator of New College Library) (2).

Last week  we welcomed descendants of David Watson at New College Library, who shared details of the Longforgan Library’s original donor, and who were able to see David Watson’s lasting legacy here. The Longforgan Library is due to be catalogued online as part of the Funk Cataloguing Projects 2012-14.

(1) Gould, Four Churches of Invergowrie.  Dundee : 1997, p. 79

(2) Howard, John. In :  Disruption to Diversity. Edinburgh : 1996, p. 193.

Once in a blue moon? Surprises in the New College Library stacks …

The Romance of Modern Astronomy by Hector MacPherson. New College Library Stack II C4/a2

The 31st of August is scheduled for a ‘blue moon’ over Scotland. A blue moon traditionally occurs whenever two full moons happen in a single month – an unusual occurence, hence the saying ‘Once in a blue moon’.

Dedicated users of New College Library may have made their way down to the depths of Stack II at basement level, and discovered the sequence of older monographs known as the ‘unclassified sequence’.  These books date from the pre-1930 existence of New College Library, and the variety of the content covers a much wider scope than the theological curriculum of the time. I was surprised to find this one :  The Romance of Modern Astronomy (1911), by Hector MacPherson.

This collection is currently part of an online cataloguing project funded by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Edinburgh.

The ‘Z’ Factor : New College Library’s rediscovered Special Collections

What are Special Collections? At New College Library we have Special Collections of books, archives  and manuscripts and a small collection of portraits and objects. Much of the book collections have been housed in Special Collections for decades, but we also have a growing collection of ‘new’ Special Collections.

This is the Z Collection, which is formed out of recent donations and out of New College Library books formerly in the General sequence  which were identified as Special Collections during a stock management exercise. We follow the critieria used by the Centre for Research Collections here at the University of Edinburgh, in particular that all books published before 1850 should be classed as Special Collections. The Z Collection, which numbers over 3,500 items, is currently being catalogued online as part of the Funk Cataloguing Projects.

One example from the Z Collection is the Biographia scotica, a biographical dictionary compiled by John Stark of Edinburgh.  It contains engraved portraits of notable Edinburgh figures such as George Drummond, a Lord Provost of Edinburgh, George Heriot, whose name is still carried by one of the well-known schools in Edinburgh, and John Napier of Merchiston, the inventor of logarithms. The book bears the inscription of one Alexander Fortune with the date 1820 at the head of the title page and a bookplate presenting the book to New College from the library of the late James Wilson, merchant, 3 South Bridge (Edinburgh).

Treasures of New College Library : The Dumfries Presbytery Library

The Dumfries Presbytery Library is a collection of sixteenth and seventeenth century books that was first documented in 1710, with the acceptance of a substantial donation of books from Dr John Hutton. It was used as a lending library, for the ministers of Dumfries, for which records survive in a ledger in Dumfries’s Ewart Library. Titles are marked : “Ex libris bibliothecae presbyterii Dumfriesiensis”

In 1884, the decision was made to transfer the collection to the General Assembly Library in Edinburgh, following a gale that damaged the roof of the presbytery house letting in rain that soaked the books. With this transfer, at least some of the books were marked by the ownership stamp of the Library of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland : the symbol of the burning bush surrounded by the words “Bibliotheca Ecclesiae Scoticanae”.

In 1958 the General Assembly Library was transferred to New College Library, and the books of the Dumfries Presbytery Library were dispersed by subject as part of the New College Library collection. In 1962, New College Library came under the governance of Edinburgh University Library,  and in 1965 John Howard took over as New College Librarian. He took a particular interest in the Dumfries Presbytery Library and he reassembled c. 1500 volumes from the collection in their original pressmark order as a Special Collection.

In the summer of 2012, a project has begun to catalogue the Dumfries Presbytery Library online in its entirety. This project is one of the Funk Cataloguing Projects at New College Library.