From one public library in 1890 there are now 28 branches across the city each providing an important service to the community. As well as providing access to information, libraries soon became places to gather and attend events.
There’s always been more to the library than books on shelves. In Edinburgh, libraries have played host to some great events and celebrations over the years. The recent development of Edinburgh Reads has seen numerous author events take place across the city.
On opening the library’s catalogue was listed in books. Technology has come a long way since then. Computerisation came in 1974 when Central Fiction began lending through an offline system. Public internet access was introduced in 1998 and now all libraries have WiFi. Readers can also access services through a mobile app and a growing collection of electronic resources and e-books are accessible online and through mobile devices.
Over the years, a number of donations have helped shape the special collections held by Edinburgh Libraries. Particular highlights of this collection include the Henry Dyer Collection of Japanese woodblock prints, woodblock printed volumes and painted scrolls; the personal items bequeathed by Charles Boog Watson. Robert Butchart and Thomas Ross as well as an extensive collection of early photography documenting Victorian Edinburgh.
Many of these items form the backbone of Capital Collections, our online image database.