Alumni Services


The General Council: Scrolling through time

As the Main Library celebrates its 50th year, we look at how alumni will learn about its importance not only to our past and present, but also our digital future.

A graphic of the Main Library to promote Scrolling through time on 9th June

Scrolling Through Time, part of the General Council's Half-Yearly Meeting and Lunch, takes place on 9 June and will feature exclusive talks to alumni by the University’s acclaimed archivists and librarians.

World’s greatest

“As the busiest building on campus, the Library is at the heart of the Edinburgh experience,” says Joseph Marshall, who heads the University’s Centre for Research Collections. “This event is a great opportunity for us to tell alumni about how the Library is used in 2018, and our plans for its future.”

The Main Library houses one of the world’s greatest heritage collections, with around 100km worth of unique, rare and special material including books, manuscripts, and objects, and ranging from first century Greek papyrus to modern digital art.

“They reflect the changing interests of the University over the centuries,” says Joseph. “They are available not only to students and staff, but also to the wider public and without any charge. I’m really looking forward to showing our alumni how they can make valuable use of this unique resource.”


A male student in the Research Suite of the Main Library

Jeremy Upton, Director of Libraries and University Collections, will talk to alumni about the history of the Library and the vision for its future.

“I’m going to reveal the fascinating history of the Library and the various buildings it has used since the University’s foundation in 1583,” he says. “We have plans underway for a major refurbishment of our current building to ensure we are ready to support the University’s ambitious strategy for learning and research, and I will also explain how we have developed our collections and resources to adapt to an increasingly digital world.”

Digital skills

Taking the digital theme even further, Gavin McLachlan, the University’s Chief Information Officer, will deliver a talk called ‘Lifelong Learning: Digital Learning and the Use of Technology in Education’.

“I’ll be exploring how the growth and sophistication of technology available for teaching and learning is now a driving force behind the changes we are seeing within higher education,” he says. “New pedagogy, teaching methods and alternative educational delivery methods that leverage this new technology will also be probed. Our students’ expectations and preferences for how their education will be delivered, and how they will interact with educators, fellow students, and with the University are also changing rapidly, not to mention the need for better digital skills as more and more people equip themselves with the skills needed for a lifelong approach to learning.”


The programme for Scrolling Through Time also includes tours of several of the Library’s unique spaces - including the exhibition gallery, conservation studio, digital imaging unity and treasures room - while expert guides will be on hand to answer guests’ questions.

The General Council

The event is part of the General Council’s Half-Yearly Meeting, which aims to give alumni an overview of its work and current developments at the University.

As well as a chance to socialise over lunch, alumni will also be able to meet Professor Ann Smyth, a graduate of Social Sciences and Psychology, who was recently appointed as Secretary of the General Council, taking over from Dr Mike Mitchell.

I am delighted that colleagues have agreed to take our alumni on a journey through the past, present and future of the Library. We really will be ‘scrolling through time’, and the talks and tours promise to be fascinating and informative. I look forward to welcoming our guests for what will be a highlight in the University calendar.

Ann SmythSecretary of the General Council

Related links

Scrolling through time

The General Council