Good things come in threes, it’s said, and we have three reasons to rejoice here at the Library.
First of all, the City Council of Edinburgh have approved our refurbishment plans! We got the green light after their Planning Committee meeting on 28 May. We are enormously grateful to all our friends who sent supportive messages directly to the CEC and to us; it has been very encouraging to have your goodwill through this long waiting period. Now we can actually set our timetable and get the process started. Special thanks to our architects at Nicoll Russell Studios, we are so looking forward to working with them to renew the Library and make it shine.
Secondly, because of the delays in reaching this stage, we are going to re-open the library to borrowers, users and visitors as from Tuesday 1 July. In the interim period our librarians have been undertaking a massive stocktake – handling every book in the library, and making a note of those that should be but aren’t on the shelves. You’ll see a difference when you return: we’ve integrated lending and reference stock, so that you can see the whole range of what we have at a glance instead of having to shuttle between different sections. The lending copies are – as ever – marked by a leaf on the spine. We are so looking forward to welcoming you back, and we don’t expect to be closing down again for the works until Christmas.
Thirdly, we have a trio of new Honorary Presidents to add to our existing pair, Liz Lochhead and Tessa Ransford. The new appointments recognise distinguished poets who have a special interest in and connection with the SPL: Douglas Dunn, Michael Longley and Aonghas MacNeacail. We are honoured that they have agreed to be linked with the Library in this way.
‘I was privileged to be one of those brought together, by Tessa Ransford, around 30 years ago, to discuss what must have seemed to many a crazy idea, the establishment of a Scottish Poetry Library. Our first premises, in Tweeddale Court, I remember as an extended sitting-room… To have been elevated to the position of Honorary President, joining such a distinguished panel, is a very special privilege, which I am happy to accept for myself, but particularly for the Gaelic language community, which shaped my being, and for its still vibrant, precious literature.’
'I am so proud to be an Honorary President of the Scottish Poetry Library. For me in Belfast it’s like having a spiritual retreat across the Irish Sea, a soul-space. The Library is an echo chamber for a great congregation of creative minds. It also gives shelter to all those fugitive little magazines and obscure pamphlets on which depends the continuing health of this art form. The Scottish Poetry Library is itself an inspiration.'