The Edward Clark Collection, housed in the library at the Merchiston campus, is not as well-known as it should be. It is one of the only two surviving examples of what was once a widespread phenomenon in Britain: printers’ libraries. The other survivor is St Brides Library in London.
The Edward Clark Collection consists of around 5,000 items illustrating the development of the book from the 15th century. More specifically, it concentrates on the development of typography, the techniques of printing illustrations, and fine bindings. The collection is located within the Campus Library at the University’s Merchiston Campus.
The first Edinburgh printers’ library was established in 1858. The technical and reference collections continued to be used up until the end of the 19th century, afterwich it is not clear what happened to them. Formal educational requirements for printing apprentices were established after World War I. The Clark Collection was put together as a teaching resource, mainly in the 1930s, to illustrate printing technologies, type design and book production from the 15th century to the present day. As well as the treasures highlighted on the Collection website it is a treasure trove for the historian of print.
Over the last 2 years, whenever access was possible, I have consulted type specimens, trade journals, company histories, technical manuals and books about print production and the design and making of books. These included James Watson’s History of Printing in Scotland (1713), Caleb Stower’s Printer’s Grammar (1808) and T.C. Hansard’s Typographia (1825), and looked again at a long-standing favourite of mine – John McCreery’s poem The Press, printed in Liverpool as a type specimen in 1802.
It is a privilege to work with this collection, and I am very grateful to all the library staff who have made this possible.
Many of you will have visited the Lions’ Gate garden at Merchiston campus (you get a good view of it from the Library’s Relaxation Space!). Well the good news is that Callum Egan, the garden co-ordinator (working with ENSA, the Business School and the Development Office), has secured funding from the Scottish Government’s Community Climate Asset Fund to develop areas at Craiglockhart and Sighthill campuses.
Raised beds, a water harvesting kit, top soil and compost have already been purchased, along with plants with culinary and medicinal benefits. The fund has also been used to buy apple and plum trees. The team working on this would like to create a micro-forest at Sighthill, and at Craiglockhart there’ll be a small orchard and a thinking walk around the grounds.
Interested? Read more about it in the Lions’ Gate blog
The good news is that the Craiglockhart orchard has now been created. I was lucky enough to be part of a group of 15 helping out with the planting of 2 plum and 10 apple trees. Take a look next time you’re on campus. It’s directly opposite the chapel entrance. Before and after photos below.
Orchard, Chapel Lion’s Gate Garden
Plants Lions’ Gate Garden
On a library-related note! Check out the Garden Collection of books held at Merchiston Library. Merchiston campus too far away? Request items via LibrarySearch.
The Lions’ Gate Garden is a permaculture habitat adjacent to the library at Merchiston campus. The gardens, allotment, pond, and outdoor laboratory provide a space to relax and unwind.
Three years ago, Research Fellow and Interaction Design Lecturer Callum Egan sparked the idea of using digital technology and environmentalism to create “techno gardens to make real spaces for people”.
The digital interactions aim to inspire people on educating and taking action for climate change and ecosystems.
Some of these interactions include:
Building food forests
Wifi and sensor icons
The pandemic has even taught us all to be more resourceful and individuals have shown a growing hobby for urban gardening! As the seasons change at Lions’ Gate, we can be more ‘fruitful’ by generating natural resources, from strawberries to Christmas trees. This creates social spaces and could even make homemade jams and chutneys!