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Celebrating 320 years

21 Dec 2018

2018 marks the 320th anniversary of the establishment of the College’s Library and the Committee that was formed to run it. Here we will consider this rich history and look ahead to what kind of library our members need in the future.

2018 marks the 320th anniversary of the establishment of the College’s Library and the Committee that was formed to run it. Here we will consider this rich history and look ahead to what kind of library our members need in the future.

The College’s Library was formed by its members in 1698 when the organisation acquired its first Hall and premises in the Trongate area of Glasgow. The books and resources gathered together there (including pathological specimens) served to support members’ educational and intellectual needs. We don’t know what that first library looked like, but we assume it was a space suitable for 17th century physicians and surgeons. In the 19th century the Library became one of the central rooms of the College’s St Vincent Street building, which still exists as the Lower Library. This and other rooms in the College were designed to be comfortable, accommodating spaces for members to meet, learn, and support each other.

In the 21st century, most of the library resources we provide for members are digital resources, including ebooks, journals and point of care resources. Our physical library space and our book collections remain a central part of our College building and facilities. How can our members make use of these facilities and help shape them to ensure their relevance?

The Library remains active in adding to its stock by the purchase of books which are felt to be of general interest to Fellows and Members, as well as books that support education and assessment needs. These books can be borrowed or consulted in the Library Reading Room. Many who enter 242 St Vincent Street for events or meetings don’t visit the 2nd floor of the building where the Library Reading Room is situated. Here, you will find a well furnished, relaxed room with space for reading, studying, informal meetings or events.

The College looks to support members throughout their careers, not only through formal education and assessment, but through the many challenges of work life, career progression and professional development. This includes a broader approach to support, through provision of networks and mentoring, spaces to meet, talk, and think. Supporting members’ wellbeing is a priority. How can our Library spaces and collections contribute to this?

The Library Reading Room is a flexible and friendly space, informal and functional. As the Reading Room it is always accessible (the door will never have an Engaged sign!). It can be a refuge, even from other busy spaces in the College, during events, courses or conferences. As well as the space for consulting the College’s collections, it can be used for workshops, informal network meetings, supportive chats, or quiet reflection.

Books and reading have been considered useful healers since Ancient Greece – in the 21st century the College can use this wonderful resource to be the supportive, enabling and inclusive organisation it aspires to be.

If you’d like to chat to us about using the Library, its resources or the space, please just email us at or pop in!

This article is taken from the Winter edition of voice, our College membership magazine. You can download your copy now.

Category: Engagement

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