Sep 082016

SUNCAT would like to welcome another new Contributing Library, the Scottish Poetry Library, which, like us, is based in Edinburgh! Just under 400 journals records from the Scottish Poetry Library have been loaded into SUNCAT. This takes the total number of libraries in SUNCAT to 107, plus the CONSER database, ISSN register and Directory of Open Access Journals.

Here Julie Johnstone, Librarian at the Scottish Poetry Library, introduces us to the library and its unique collection of literary journals.

The Scottish Poetry Library is a unique national resource for the art of poetry, and works to bring the pleasures and benefits of poetry to as wide an audience as possible.

The interior of the Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh

The interior of the Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh. (© Scottish Poetry Library, 2016.)

The Library first opened in 1984 in small 18th century premises in Tweeddale Court in Edinburgh. In 1999 we moved into award-winning specially designed premises in Crichton’s Close, just off the Canongate. These premises were refurbished and extended in 2015, giving us a delightful, light and open home for our collection of over 45,000 items – books, pamphlets, magazines, cuttings, and audio material. Our Special Collections house an Edwin Morgan archive, and a selection of artists’ books and visual poetry materials. Our website at has a wide range of poetry resources, including poems tagged by theme, a guide to Scottish poets (over 400 currently on the list), and our regular podcasts.

We are open to the public throughout the year, and all are welcome to browse and use the building. We also have a lending collection. We run an inquiry service answering all sorts of poetry-related questions and assist scholars with research.

The ‘little magazines’ – literary journals – are notoriously ephemeral: short-lived and edited by many changing hands. They are often shy of selling themselves, and in consequence hard to get hold of, and even the bigger titles can be irregular and sometimes function without a subscription scheme. However, they are the building blocks of a nation’s literary life; the testing-ground for aspiring writers, and a major source of literary criticism.

The Scottish Poetry Library takes in over 80 current titles and houses an archive of around 400 back runs and now defunct titles. We have complete runs of most of the important mid- and late- 20th century and continuing Scottish titles, such as Akros, Chapman, The Dark Horse. We care for a handful of rarer titles such as Poor. Old. Tired. Horse. and Migrant from the 1960s, and the 1930s classic The Modern Scot. For keeping up with the current literary scene, our readers can browse the TLS, the London and the Scottish Review of Books; for UK poetry we have the major titles such as Poetry Review and PN Review and many others; from our Celtic cousins Poetry Ireland and Poetry Wales; and a handful from Europe, New Zealand and the United States.

The collection is reference only, but we have indexed the content of 20 Scottish magazines, the data for which can be found in our online catalogue, and this is often used for both research and compiling themed lists of poetry.

Please contact the Librarians for further assistance.
Julie Johnstone
Lizzie MacGregor


SUNCAT thanks Julie for writing this post. If you would like to write a post on your SUNCAT Contributing Library and its serials collections or would like to join SUNCAT please contact the EDINA Helpdesk at

 September 8, 2016  Posted by at 2:32 pm Contributing Libraries Tagged with: , ,  No Responses »