St Andrews residents / members of the public are to be invited to see how a much-loved local church has been sensitively transformed to a state-of-the art Research Library.
The University of St Andrews bought the vacant Martyrs Kirk from the Church of Scotland in the summer of 2012 and has preserved and re-fitted the iconic building as a Research Library and Special Collections Reading Room. Now local residents and churchgoers, some of whom will have worshipped in Martyrs, will have the opportunity to see round the renovated church at a special open day on 20 November.
The Research Library consists of two reading rooms: a Research Reading Room occupying the former church, and a Special Collections Reading Room in the church hall. At the rear of the building is a Seminar Room for Special Collections staff to use in their engagement work with the collections, and in palaeography teaching.
The fit-out of this room was made possible through a generous gift from the New Park Educational Trust. The Research Library provides 68 study seats, as well as a number of informal seats made out of re-used former pews from the church. Other original features which have been retained are the pulpit and the magnificent organ pipes.
The Research Reading Room opened for business on Monday 30 September, and is available to Postgraduate Research students and academic staff. It contains around 5,000 volumes of research materials requested by academic users in the Faculties of Arts and Divinity. The Special Collections Reading Room represents a stage in the development of a long-term solution to the need for dedicated accommodation for the Library’s Special Collections. The 14k linear metres of material which constitute the Special Collections remain in temporary off-site storage while the University works on a plan to return them to the Main Library, but users will have a more attractive, more comfortable and much better situated reading room in the Research Library. They will need to adjust to ordering the materials they wish to consult in advance, and these will be delivered by van to the new Reading Room. Any member of the public who wishes to consult our Special Collections can use the Reading Room, which will open on 2 December.
The project architects, Page & Park of Glasgow, have done an excellent job on the design, and worked very hard with the University’s Estates and Library teams to prepare the building for opening at the beginning of the new Academic Year. The design was achieved with great sensitivity to the church architecture and respect for the building’s former purpose and traditions. In developing the Martyrs Kirk Research Library, the University has created a beautiful space, with a high-quality finish, which successfully translates its original function to support worship and prayer into a sanctuary for learning and research. With a skilful use of lighting to illuminate the highlights of the new interior as well as the original architecture, and the awe-inspiring stained glass in windows such as the ‘Hymn of the Universe’, designed by Sadie Mclellan in 1989, the building is a beautiful addition to the University’s estate.
The Library is opening the doors of the Martyrs Kirk Research Library to the town for an Open Day on Wednesday 20 November, from 10.00am – 3.00pm. Library staff will be in the building and will be happy to guide visitors around, and answer questions. All those who worshipped in the Martyrs Church are invited to a special reception on the evening of the same day, 20 November. If you worshipped in the church, and are not part of the current Hope Park & Martyrs congregation (who have received an invitation via Revd McCafferty), please contact Kaye Wemyss in the Library Office (tel. 462281) for details of this event.
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Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews
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Ref: (martyrs 08/11/13)
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