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Posts Tagged ‘John Howard’

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.

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Following in the footsteps of the New College Librarian

Spent some time this morning sculling through the New College archives looking for correspondence about some of the New College Special Collections, the Dumfries Presbytery Library and the Longforgan Free Church Ministers’ Library. There’s a fascination to leafing through the thin typewritten sheets that measured out the business of New College Library over the decades. One envelope contains the daily diary notes of the New College Librarian for the autumn term (no semesters then) of 1965 – jottings and tick lists of meetings about the finances, measuring up the space needed for new periodicals, noting library staff who’ve gone home feeling ill.  Other letters are handwritten enquiries to the Librarian, and his replies –  “Dear Miss Grant, I have very little to tell you about the revival of the use of the saints names as dedications of Church of Scotland Parish Kirks …” this said, the letter went on to give a full page of information. My life as a librarian is measured out in e-mails, with paper letters like these occasionally lurking at the fringes.