Venue Information - Size and scale
1 mezzanine, max 55 seated
Genre and type of work
Small scale poetry readings and events, some exhibitions
Full wheelchair access, assistance available, induction loops, audiotape guide to material, large print material, braille material
The Scottish Poetry Library (SPL) is entirely devoted to poetry, focusing on the poetry of Scotland in the 20th and 21st centuries, in the three languages of Scotland (English, Scots and Gaelic), but with a strong representation of modern poetry from the UK and in other languages, especially European. It is a national resource and open to all. The Library is independent, and core-funded by the Scottish Arts Council.
The Library was founded in Edinburgh in 1984 by Tessa Ransford, herself a poet, on a volunteer and donation basis, with one member of staff and 300 books. It has since grown to 10 members of staff and over 30,000 items, and has provided small poetry collections (300-500 books) to 11 locations in Scotland, from Shetland in the north to Dumfries in the south. SPL is housed within a purpose-built Lottery-funded building, designed by Malcolm Fraser Architects and opened to the public in June 1999.
The four main functions of the Scottish Poetry Library with regard to its aim of promoting the art and enjoyment of poetry, and of Scottish poetry in particular, are: (i) to maintain, increase and promote the use of its resources, chiefly its collections and website; (ii) to provide an education programme, both in connection with its Edinburgh base and throughout Scotland; (iii) to promote the art of poetry to the general public through events, publications and campaigns; and (iv) to promote Scottish poetry abroad and international poetry in Scotland through the website, visits and translation projects.
Besides the main collection of works on paper, including a strong collection of poetry pamphlets, the SPL offers a European collection, principally bilingual volumes but sometimes single language (English or original), expanded with funding from Ariane to form EPIC (European Poetry Information Centre); a good collection of Scottish literary magazines, with open shelving for past issues and some current issues available for sale; also a selection of literary magazines from the rest of the UK, Ireland and Europe; an extensive cuttings archive, collecting and indexing reviews and articles, again mainly by or about Scottish poets but with a good sample of material about UK and foreign poets; and a section for children, recently enhanced by a large loan from Scottish Book Trust (SBT); plus audiotapes, CDs, a small collection of volumes in Braille
SPL has hosted several translation workshops in co-operation with various organisations: the Institut français d'Ecosse, Literature Across Frontiers, Norwegian Literature Abroad, and Finnish Literature Information. The results of these projects are available at its website.
The SPL catalogue, INSPIRE, including the Scottish Poetry Index (to the poetry and poetry-related articles in certain runs of Scottish magazines, providing an invaluable source for locating otherwise uncollected work), can be consulted on line on SPL's website and via the Co-operative Information Retrieval Network for Scotland (CAIRNS).
SPL lends free of charge to members of the public, and offers a postal loan service within the UK and Europe, for which there is a small charge. Borrowers may have up to six books for one month.
SPL is an independent company limited by guarantee and has charitable status.