CILIPS Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland
Navigation Close

Laura Cooijmans-Keizer, Centre for Research Collections, University of Edinburgh

Category: Meet our Members

This blog is part of our Meet Our Members series, focusing on different members and their careers.

Hi there! My name is Laura Cooijmans-Keizer, and I’m currently working as a Special Collections Library Assistant at the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Research Collections (or CRC, for short). What I love most about my job is that it’s particularly varied – no two days are the same! My team and I are responsible for welcoming readers and helping them discover our collections, retrieving items from secure stores, invigilating our reading room, and answering a wide array of weird and wonderful enquiries. The latter, especially, makes my job very unique.

The University library was founded in 1582, and ever since that time, its librarians and archivists have continued to collect rare, unique, and important items to add to its collections. Today, the University holds one of the greatest heritage collections in the world, even though this is still not that well known internationally – or even within Scotland itself! In addition to rare books, there are extensive archives, manuscripts, photographic and film collections, anatomic and geological collections, historical musical instruments, and even works of fine art.

The enquiries we receive tend to cover most of the abovementioned areas. As it is impossible to know everything about the items in our collections, some diligent detective work is generally required. Not only do I learn about the items I am researching, but also about their wider place in history and the people who interacted with them over their lifetime. There are so many stories hidden in the archives!

Many visitors still feel as if these collections are only available to the students and staff of the University, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Anyone at all is welcome to consult our collections, and I very much enjoy showing people around for the first time. A great way to do this is through organised visits.

Since starting the process of achieving Chartership with CILIP, I have become more actively acquainted with different aspects of the library profession. This has opened my eyes to the enormous variety of the field, and I feel lucky to have been able to chat to library professionals from all walks of life during the wonderful CILIPS East Branch events, like the Librarians Uncorked Reading Group sessions and behind-the-scenes tours during CILIPS East Branch’ Library Bagging series.

I recently organised my very own Library Bagging tour in the CRC, a well-received event that introduced our collections – ranging from a first-century papyrus tax receipt to J.R.R. Tolkien’s letters – to fellow library professionals. This has reaffirmed how much I enjoy fostering new links between our collections and researchers – whether they are students, seasoned academics, or those who have never set foot in an archive before.

Skip to content