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The Scottish Poetry Library

'The Scottish Poetry Library is heaven on earth...I found treasures on every shelf during each visit'.

This year, the Scottish Poetry Library has been celebrating its twentieth birthday. Founded in 1984, the Poetry Library started out with only two members of staff and 300 books in a single room. Twenty years later, it has moved to purpose-built, award-winning premises, a stone's throw away from the new Parliament and in the heart of Edinburgh's literary quarter. It now boasts a collection of 30,000 items of Scottish and international poetry. Over 8,000 visits are made every year, there are 1,000 registered borrowers and each year, the Library enables around 1,500 children to attend poetry workshops.

Scottish Poetry Library Interior; Photo: Keith Hunter
The Scottish Poetry Library has something for everyone in their collection - whether it's serious readers, casual browsers or students. Although the main emphasis is on contemporary poetry written in Scotland in Scots, Gaelic and English, there are also historic Scottish poetry works and poetry for children as well as poetry on cassette, CD and video. Contemporary works from all over the world are also available. As visitors discover, there is a poem for everyone and for every occasion.

People use the service in different ways: borrowing and browsing, finding out about workshops and competitions, and tracing poems they half recall, or want for a special occasion. There are workshops in the Library for children, and poets go out to schools, writing groups and other institutions throughout Scotland to run workshops.

Louis de Bernieres; Photo: Roddy Simpson

As well as housing vast collections of poetry, the Scottish Poetry Library also hosts many poetry events throughout the year. There are regular readings in the evenings - visitors this year have included Louis de Bernieres, John Byrne and U.A.Fanthorpe - and during the Festival, the ever-popular Courtyard Readings are held outside the Library, for people to read their own or others' poetry.

Borrowing from the library is free, and there is also a postal borrowing service which costs 50p per item. A freepost envelope is included for the return of the items. There is also an inter-library loan system which you can use through your local library. 

The library is a national resource, and if you can't visit the building itself, why not visit the website? On the website you can research the online catalogue, use the postal borrowing service, and find all sorts of information about poetry events, publications and competitions. You can also read about some of the events being held there by visiting our events page.

Related links
* The Scottish Poetry Library
* Regular poetry events
* Edinburgh Shore Poets
* Literature homepage
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