Catalogue of the National Museums Scotland Library added to Copac

We are pleased to announce that the records of the National Museums Scotland Library have been added to Copac.

National Museums Scotland library

National Museums Scotland Library

National Museums Scotland library was founded over 235 years ago with its roots in the collections of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. The library collection now consists of over 300,000 volumes reflecting the strengths and variety of the Museum’s collections and research interests. Subjects covered in the collection include:

  • Archaeology
  • Scottish history and culture
  • World-wide decorative and applied arts
  • Natural sciences
  • Scottish military history
  • History of science and technology

There are two libraries which have public access: the Research Library in the National Museum of Scotland (the main reading room) and the National War Museum Library at Edinburgh Castle.

For more information see the National Museums Scotland Library’s Copac information page. To browse their records, select the Main Search tab on Copac and choose ‘National Museums Scotland Library’ from the list of libraries.

Catalogue of the Leadhills Miners’ Library added to Copac

We’re pleased to announce that the records of the Leadhills Miners’ Library have been added to Copac.

Leadhills Miners’ Library is the principal collection of the Leadhills Heritage Trust, which manages the library. The library was founded in 1741 as the Leadhills Reading Society; is both the first and earliest subscription library to be founded in Britain; and is also the world’s first library for working people. Its stock peaked at around 4000 volumes in the early 20th century, and today its 2500 surviving volumes represent a history of working class reading from the early 18th century until the 1930s. The collection demonstrates the development of working class reading: initially focusing on religion, before expanding to cover secular non–fiction (including history, voyages and travel, and biography) and then fiction. It includes 600 volumes purchased with grants from the Ferguson Bequest Fund between about 1870 and 1930, and is the largest surviving collection of its kind. The collection also includes local imprints, such as that of John Wilson of Kilmarnock, Robert Burns’s first publisher. The library functioned as a lending library until the 1960s and is now a closed reference and research collection.

The library is closely linked to the early lifelong learning ideology of mutual improvement and was the first library in Europe to make this connection, following the development of the idea in Philadelphia by Benjamin Franklin in 1731. It therefore played a key role in the development of information ideology in Europe. The principal users of the library were lead miners, whose favourable working conditions and high levels of literacy gave them time to read. The foundation of the library was linked to a programme of reforms in the village, originated by the mine manager and Jacobite intellectual, James Stirling of Garden (1692-1770).

The Leadhills library banner (c 1820)

The Leadhills library banner (c 1820)

The Library’s collections also include the earliest library banner in Britain (c 1820), which featured on the Antiques Roadshow in June 2017, and the largest collection of Bargain Books in Scotland. These record the short term contracts made between the mine managers and teams of miners. The collection has recently been digitised. The Library also possesses the only known example of a library pulpit where the library president (preses) sat while presiding over the monthly loan and return meetings. Some examples of printed catalogues are also held, including the last major catalogue of the library collection itself, listing 3800 volumes and printed in 1904. A modern catalogue was compiled in the 1980s and has formed the basis for the records now available through COPAC.

Leadhills also holds a collection of library artefacts, including ballot boxes for voting on accepting new members, membership certificates and printing plates for printing off membership certificates, and a printing plate for printing copies of the Library bookplate.

The Library had its own building prior to 1791 but its location is not known. The current building was erected in 1791 and is one of the oldest public library buildings in Scotland. It is essentially a miners’ cottage without internal divisions and demonstrates the influence of domestic architecture on library design. It is shelved on three sides with the fourth, north-facing, long wall providing fenestration and a door. It is mentioned in the Old Statistical Account.

The Library is open to the public on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, May to September, 2-4 pm. Access at other times by appointment. Tours of the library and village are available for groups on request.

In the mutual improvement tradition the Library offers a monthly programme of lectures during the winter months and also occasional special lectures. Local community groups also meet in the Library.

John Crawford
Chair, Leadhills Heritage Trust

You can find out more about the library, including contact details, on their Copac information page. To browse the library’s records, select the Main Search tab on Copac and choose ‘Leadhills Miners’ Library’ from the list of libraries.

The National Gallery Library and the Legacy of Sir Charles Eastlake

National Gallery Library

The National Gallery Library was established in 1870 with the purchase of the private library, consisting of some 2,000 volumes, of Sir Charles Eastlake (1793-1865), first Director of the National Gallery. It now contains around 100,000 printed volumes relevant to the study of the history of paintings in the Western European tradition from the 13th to the early 20th century.

Eastlake had been Director of the Gallery since 1855 and an avid book collector since his youth. He lived for a number of years in Rome as a practising artist, where he associated with German as well as Italian artists and art historians. During his ten years as Director of the National Gallery, he made annual trips to continental Europe, especially to Italy, chiefly to acquire paintings for the Gallery, but also along the way collecting books to add to his library. Being fluent in several European languages, he acquired books in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Dutch. In 1865 Eastlake died, still in post as Director, in the middle of one his tours of Italy. His widow Lady Eastlake wished to ensure that his pioneering work at the National Gallery would continue and be respected. After some negotiating, she sold the library to the Gallery, on condition that it be known as ‘The Eastlake Library’. She personally stamped every volume with a distinctive (E) stamp on Valentine’s Day 1870, which makes it very easy for us to identify the books. The Eastlake Library has been the heart of the National Gallery Library collections ever since its acquisition.

George Green, Catalogue of the Eastlake Library in the National Gallery

George Green, Catalogue of the Eastlake Library in the National Gallery (London, 1872)

As part of the process of acquiring the Eastlake Library back in 1870, a printed catalogue was compiled by a bookseller, George Green, and published in 1872. The original Eastlake Library numbers some 2,030 volumes covering a wide range of publications and formats: monographs, collection and auction catalogues, treatises, periodicals, technical and travel literature, pamphlets, offprints, as well as a few manuscript volumes, mainly transcripts of unpublished source materials. These reflect Eastlake’s broad-ranging interests in the developing field of art history, especially in relation to his concerns about attribution and provenance research, and in the history of artistic techniques. Although a working library for research rather than a rare books collection, the Library includes two incunabula, one of which is the famous Hypnerotomachia Poliphili printed in Venice in 1499. There are also numerous titles which are either unique or held in few libraries either in the United Kingdom or worldwide. A good number of the volumes are annotated by Eastlake himself, especially the guidebooks and catalogues which accompanied or derived from his travel to the European continent.

Giorgio  Vasari, Le Vite de' più eccellenti pittori, scultori, e architettori (2nd edition, Florence, 1568)

Giorgio  Vasari, Le Vite de’ più eccellenti pittori, scultori, e architettori (2nd edition, Florence, 1568)

There are standard biographical works of art history such as Vasari’s Vite de’ più eccellenti architetti, pittori, et scultori italiani, of which he collected both the first edition of 1550 and also the expanded second edition of 1568. There are also treatises on the theory and practice of painting and the arts: one example is a Spanish work of 1763 with chapters on geometry, human anatomy, animals and birds, and architecture.

Juan de Arphe y Villafañe, Varia Commensuracion para la Escultura y Arquitectura (Madrid, 1763)

Juan de Arphe y Villafañe, Varia Commensuracion para la Escultura y Arquitectura (Madrid, 1763)

In 1847 Eastlake himself published a pioneering monograph on technical art history, Materials for a History of Oil Painting. His interest in this emerging field is reflected in the presence in his library of publications such as a painter’s manual published in Leipzig in 1532,  a remarkably clean copy given that most surviving copies knocked around in painters’ workshops for generations until they fell apart.

Drey schoner künst-reicher büchlein (Leipzig, 1532)

Drey schoner künst-reicher büchlein (Leipzig, 1532)

He also collected manuscript sources in the form of transcripts or published editions. One of the most studied texts for technical art history was Cennino Cennini’s Il Libro dell’Arte, probably written in the late 1390s: the Library possesses the first English translation by Mary Merrifield with a very colourful frontispiece, published in 1844.

Cennino Cennini, A Treatise on Painting written by Cennino Cennini in the year 1437 … translated by Mrs Merrifield (London, 1844)

Cennino Cennini, A Treatise on Painting written by Cennino Cennini in the year 1437 … translated by Mrs Merrifield (London, 1844)

The National Gallery Library is open to researchers needing to consult items in the library’s collection which may not be reasonably accessible in other libraries. For more information, please consult our web pages.

Jonathan Franklin, Librarian

You can also find out more about the library on their Copac information page, and browse their records by selecting the Main Search tab on Copac and choosing ‘National Gallery Library’ from the list of libraries.