National Library of Scotland opens Glasgow branch for first time

Dr John Scally, national librarian, at the new National Library of Scotland visitor centre in Kelvin Hall, Glasgow. Picture: John Devlin/TSPL
Dr John Scally, national librarian, at the new National Library of Scotland visitor centre in Kelvin Hall, Glasgow. Picture: John Devlin/TSPL
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IT HAS been based in Edinburgh since its foundation by Act of Parliament in 1925, but has now finally opened a branch in Glasgow.

The National Library of Scotland today welcomed the first visitors to its new research centre in Kelvin Hall, which will allow digital access to some of the millions of books, films, images and maps stored in its archive.

Five years in planning, the state-of-the-art facility provides a new home for the library’s Moving Image Archive, which includes more than 46,000 amateur and professional films which reflect life, society, industry and culture in Scotland from the 1890s to today.

The unique film collection was previously based at an industrial estate in Hillington in the south-west of the city.

It is hoped the Kelvin Hall base will encourage more members of the public, students and filmmakers to explore the archive in detail.

“The National Image Archive is one of our principal collections and it really needed a space that could draw people to it,” said Dr John Scally, chief executive and national librarian.

“When we got involved in discussions with the council on their ideas for Kelvin Hall, we realised it was a perfect fit for us - it’s a central destination, and a big space in which we can expand.

“This is about establishing the National Library of Scotland in Glasgow. We’ve created what we feel is a library for the 21st century.

“There are millions upon millions of e-books available which can only be read on the premises. But there is also a physical experience, with memorabilia on display and a very large film archive behind the scenes.”

Among the features highlighted in the exhibition area is Seawards the Great Ships, a 1961 documentary on Clyde shipbuilding which became the first Scottish production to win an Oscar.

A replica of the award given to makers Templar Films is among the items on display, along with a selection of vintage maps, letters and posters.

But lesser-known clips - such as a tour of Sauchiehall Street in 1902 - can also be viewed on one of the many interactive screens in the centre.

“The new space has been driven by digital, and by what we think Glasgow needs for research, education and technology,” continued Scally.

The library’s new base is part of an on-going multi-million pound redevelopment of Kelvin Hall, which will also include a new wing for the Hunterian Museum.

READ MORE: Eight of the best Scottish documentary films