Engaging new audiences

If you get the chance to see and smell and touch artefacts from 450 years ago, take advantage.
— Visitor

Since the Signet Library first opened, the Society of Writers to HM Signet has welcomed visitors to its home. Never merely a place for lawyers, the library has maintained liberal access for all. We engage daily with visitors from all walks of life through formal programmes and informal interaction.

Our outreach covers both legal and non-legal collaborations. The Society supports law students with practical work experience placements. We run an acclaimed internship programme for law students and there are now over 90 alumni. We work with Edinburgh College to provide work experience for students from non-English speaking countries who would like to study law. Placements are often the catalyst to further career development.

We have established connections with school students through the Schools Mock Court Project. Each year, we welcome 200 school students and teachers to the Signet Library under this excellent project for both primary and secondary schools across the country.

An expanding list of collaborations with academic institutions reflects growing awareness of the Signet Library’s collections. At the forefront are placements for researchers from the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for the History of the Book. More recently established is a summer internship for a student from the University’s School of History, Classics and Archaeology. This initiative will see the historic collections used in modern university teaching for the first time. Further active collaborations are also taking place with the universities of Glasgow and Aberdeen.

The Society’s engagement with members of the public is often more personal. On a weekly basis we are involved in genealogy and family history requests, demonstrating the richness and depth of our institutional archives. We have a growing reputation as a warm and welcoming place for researchers who are astounded by the quality of primary resources available.

Visitors are also fascinated by the Signet Library’s architecture, furniture and works of art. We regularly provide tours for interest groups and societies such as the Scottish Tourist Guides Association, the Furniture History Society, Historic Environment Scotland and various literary associations.

Under New Enlightenment, these activities will expand to ever more diverse audiences, particularly those from more marginalised groups in our communities, reflecting the Society’s commitment to wider civic life.