Reflecting on New College Library at DHT

A guest post from Gina Headden, New College Library Helpdesk Team

New College Library on the Mound is a grand and imposing building but like many historic locations it occasionally needs significant maintenance to allow its continued use as a venue fit for purpose in the 21st century.

New College Library @ DHT Helpdesk

Thus, in the early days of 2020, the general library stock moved from its historic location on the Mound to the ground floor of the 1960s David Hume Tower (DHT) in George Square so that essential repairs could be carried out ‘back at base’ over the next 18 months.

For weeks, preparations for the transfer of general stock were put in place. Staff were submerged in countless meetings, lists, boxes, crates, labels, bubble-wrap and sticky tape, emerging at break-times, home-times, to serve the always welcome readers who were still coming into the Library and to rest up over the Christmas vacation before the books, equipment and so much more arrived at DHT and the settling in process began.

Festivities over, on the 7th January 2020, library and other staff pulled together and set to, making the new location welcoming and functional.

The opening up of the different floors of the DHT library was staggered as more of the book stock found its way from crates onto shelves. The ground floor opened on January 13th and the first floor on January 15th. Study space was made available in G04, across the foyer from the library. By 3rd February the second and third floors were also open. All told, it took 21 days to move and make available 3.5 kilometres of stock, an average of 165 metres a day. Phew!

Throughout this time, library staff frequently fetched items for readers, doing all they could to minimise disruption to the service. Where an item couldn’t be accessed, staff sought alternative ways to support readers e.g. by directing them to the National Library of Scotland or Inter Library Loans.

The Reserve Book Collection has not been moved to DHT but rather was relocated to the Semple Room at New College on the Mound where prior to its closure because of lockdown, it was available from 11am-3pm on weekdays. This meant Divinity students could more readily consult these items on the site where most of their lectures take place.

In a remarkably short space of time, a sound temporary base has been established for New College Library regular readers and for others who may use the DHT library.

At the time of writing, however, for the safety of our staff and students, New College Library on The Mound and at DHT remain closed, as indeed do all the Edinburgh University libraries.

Much has changed in the world since New College Library moved to DHT at the start of 2020. Library staff remain determined to provide the best possible service despite the challenging circumstances, meantime supporting university and other enquirers online and by phone while waiting to hear when and in what way our libraries can once more safely open their doors to readers and provide a welcoming face-to-face service.

Further information relating to the University’s library services as they adapt to the Covid-19 situation can be found here:

If you have specific library-related enquiries, please do contact us via the following link and we’ll do whatever we can to help you:

All good wishes from the New College Library Helpdesk team until we meet again.

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