Preparing for visitors later today, I spent most of yesterday working with some of our unique, fascinating and indescribably dusty old case papers.
It was fun. I found one case where the Barbers of the Canongate established by law that the Society of Barbers of Edinburgh were no longer the boss of them – and another, with lovely fold-out maps and plans, in which the home owning gentry of North Leith complained that local merchants and tradesmen were blocking the roadways with their messy, unsightly businesses.
Fun it was but very dirty work. We conserve these old volumes. We have projects to clean them every summer. Yet, still they crumble and shed their unsavoury dust particles all over the Library.
In moments of fevered imagination, I wonder what else they are shedding. Some of our books are very, very old… When was the Black Death exactly?…