After our look at the two Edinburgh libraries, we strolled down the street to the Scottish Poetry Library. The atmosphere in this library gives a very traditional feel to a a genre whose meaning can be very obscure to some people. There are many windows, which allows a good amount of natural light to filter into the reading areas, creating a very serene space. The building would have to be interesting if it is built in any proximity to the Scottish Parliament, a structure complete with 8 foot jagged wooden sticks standing vertically along the facade.
The architect of the Scottish Poetry Library, Malcolm Fraser, has said, "I look on this building as a poem that we've made together, composed from light, view, rhythm, embrace, movement, gathering, colour, texture and metaphor to express the joy of poetry, and optimism for its future within our culture." ( http://www.spl.org.uk/about/building.html)
Outside of an incredible space to work with, the Scottish Poetry library has a large, yet specialized collection. The library seemed to honoring a local poet by printing lines from poetry on the walls. This library was established in 1984, and the collection has an emphasis in contemporary poetry written in Scots, English and Gaelic. They provide their materials for free to the general public, and they promote themselves as a place for poets, scholars and people who can appreciate great poetry. (http://www.spl.org.uk/about/index.html)
I didn't get to spend as much time in this library as I would have liked, but I could tell that it is a very special place, with many of Scotland's lesser known treasures. I was able to go upstairs and explore the children's section. It had a big colorful rug and the books on display were a diverse sampling. I think that people have a tendency to think that all poetry has to rhyme or adhere to some strict formats that don't represent the way that real people talk. One walk through this library, and someone may be convinced to think differently, some poems are short, many books are full of accompanying illustrations or photographs, as well as content and language that they average person can relate to.
I noticed that there was a poet being featured while we were there and the website alludes that there is a poet being featured every month. This tradition further connects the Scottish Public Library to the community. Featured poets are getting the support of their city and the importance of poetry is being perpetuated among family, friends and neighbors.
I have attended many spoken word performance throughout my college career, and one of the hosts asked the audience, "if you could write a poem that would save someones life, would you write it?". The line has always stuck with me because it assumes some commonalities of the human experience, and who doesn't want to believe that someone else may know how we are feeling at any point in time.