Saturday, 5 March 2016

Meet a Borrower

As the library opens its doors again for the 2016 season, we’re adding a new feature on display beside our Borrowers’ registers.  While our exhibitions upstairs focus on “Drink” and “Around the World in Innerpeffray Books”, downstairs we’ve space to feature the borrowing patterns of individual readers for the very first time.

Inspired by trips to the local sweet shop of the same name, we’ve chosen a Durward as our first “Meet the Borrower”. A gardener at Millearn, 3 miles from Innerpeffray, George Durward borrows his first Innerpeffray book in July 1872, Modern Eden (or, simply put on the spine, “Gardener’s Guide”). He then borrowers another gardening book in 1878, so his early borrowings seem to complement his occupation. The second book, Thomas Reid’s Scots Gard’ner in October 1878, is already almost 200 years old by the time George borrows it, but it remains one of the more popular books with visitors to Innerpeffray past and present, and has now been fully digitised and made available for purchase in our library shop.

George’s reading begins to broaden, taking out A Natural History of Barbados in 1879. Though concerned partially with plants, it also details animals living in the area and its topography and is richly illustrated. A large book, it is difficult to imagine his getting it to and from the library in one piece, but it was indeed safely returned on time and is one of the books we sadly didn’t have space for in our Around the World exhibition this season.

By 1880, George seems to have developed a taste for history, taking out two volumes of Macaulay’s History of England successively in January and May, then going on to take out The Scots Magazine for the year 1782. The Scots Magazine is packed full of news and articles, and this particular volume (44) covers such topics as volcanoes in Iceland, affairs in America and Ireland, the influence of climate and many many more. With drink on the brain thanks to our new exhibition, we even found an excellent 2 page exploration into the use and effects of tea. With such a rich diversity of content it’s difficult to infer why George may have taken out this particular volume: given that it was borrowed in 1882, it could even be something so simple as looking at how far things have changed in the last 100 years.

George Durward’s reading journey, in books borrowed from Innerpeffray at least, eventually moved onto fiction, borrowing his final library book in 1892, Walter Scott’s Tales of a Grandfather. In 1887 the family story continues when a “scholar” of the same name and address, perhaps his son, begins his Innerpeffray borrowing record with fiction, and with Walter Scott’s Quentin Durward. What better way to begin than with the adventures of your namesake?

It is always amazing to us and to our visitors how full a picture of life in the area throughout history we can paint using our borrowers’ records. In the coming months, and as part of an ongoing PhD project on the books and their borrowers at Innerpeffray, we will be meeting more borrowers and looking at the stories each individual record has to tell.

George Durward's Borrowings:
9th July 1872         Modern Eden: : or the gardener's universal guide, 1769
31st October 1878  Scots Gardener, 1683
24th April 1879      The natural history of Barbados, 1750
1st January 1880     Macaulay’s The History of England (Volume 5) 1861
13th May 1880        Macaulay’s The History of England (Volume 6) 1861
20th April 1882      The Scots magazine (Volume 44) 1782
23rd October 1884  The life & letters of Princess Alice, 1864
2nd  February 1892 Walter Scott’s Tales of a Grandfather