CILIPS Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland
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ARLGS visits to The Royal Conservatoire and The National Piping Centre

Category: Branches and Groups

by Lynsey Sampson, ARLGS Committee Member 

On Friday 23rd August myself and around 19 other library and information professionals were given the opportunity to visit The Royal Conservatoire and The National Piping Centre in Glasgow, an afternoon of music and drama!

The Royal Conservatoire

Our first visit was to The Royal Conservatoire where we were greeted by Dr Karen McAulay, representative from the Whittaker Library, who was very informative, giving us a good grounding on the history of the institution where we learnt that they have a school of both music and drama, with many practical based creative degrees, for example composing or directing. I found it interesting to learn that the building, having been built in 1987, has gradually accommodated more and more people through its doors, from 500 to an astounding 1000. As a result of this, they now have a second premises in Glasgow. I think this shows how popular these types of degrees are!

I was surprised at the size of the library, as to me it appeared to be a similar size to a school library. To reflect the size of the library, they have a team of 10 full-time and part-time staff as well as an IT team, all managed by the 1 person. I was slightly amused to hear how the Librarian described the types of students who frequented the library as creatively theatrical!

We were shown the layout of the library, with the general rule of drama being on the left-hand side shelves and anything to do with music being on the right-hand side shelves. Like other libraries, they take book donations. At the beginning, they would accept all book donations, but more recently they have had to be selective in what they choose to be included within the collections. It seems like one of the reasons for this is that new courses have been introduced, meaning priority needs to be given for the books associated with these courses. Despite it being a small library, they have still made space for silent study zones, using their space wisely.

I thought it was cute how they had a resident soft toy Owl mascot who they had affectionately named ‘Twittaker’ sitting at the enquiry desk of the library, who they dress up! I was surprised to learn that he even has his own Twitter account!

We all found it interesting browsing the library books on drama, music, and music scores!

On a larger level, I liked how the Librarian took us for a wider tour of the Royal Conservatoire, allowing us to see the music study carrels complete with practicing students in action, one of their large theatre performance spaces, as well as the wall of fame showing famous faces who have all been students at the Conservatoire!

The National Piping Centre

It was a really unique experience visiting The National Piping Centre and hearing from the Librarian, James Beaton, welcoming us by playing the bagpipes, followed by a power point presentation which took us through the history of the centre. We all learnt some really interesting facts; I was surprised the Centre itself has been around since 1996, with the aim of showcasing the great national highland bagpipe and its music. James had displayed a collection of rare books for us to look at, where he described the significance of each. After a thorough briefing of the history, learning about the Piping Centre’s connections with Whiskey, and it’s teaching facilities, we were given a tour of the library. It was much smaller than I had envisaged, but nevertheless contained all the essential materials associated with the history and culture of Piping, including facilities to listen to a wide range of recorded music in different formats.

Our tours ended with a half hour opportunity for networking in the National Piping Centre bar area. I enjoyed engaging with the others on the tour, especially in the lovely surroundings of the National Piping Centre!

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