A series of posts from our volunteers …

Paul and Ruth Maxwell

Photograph of Paul and Ruth Maxwell
Paul and Ruth Maxwell

We came to be Volunteers at RBGE quite by chance in that while attending a Fine Arts lecture a slide appeared asking for those interested in volunteer work to contact the Librarian. This we did and are so glad to have done so.

Even for ex-teachers like us, the learning curve never quite reaches Infinity. So it has been. It’s been a stimulating experience for the past five years or so, working with a dedicated, helpful, and patient Staff whom we hope are getting from us support for the essential work they do.

Our first task saw us “hooked”, because it involved work on the papers sent up from Kew relating to Archibald Menzies, Scotland’s first botanist. For us it was especially interesting because of his work in the Pacific Northwest and our experience there on holidays. We catalogued the papers and put the data online. Other tasks involved similar work. Particularly fascinating was cataloguing the details on “ Seaweed” gifted to the Library by Fettes College; interesting not only for the scientific facts, but also the insight into the lives of the collectors like Miss Gattye. At present we are digitising a photographic collection of botanical specimens, a momentous task sadly interrupted by the current crisis.

For us, each day we are due at the Library is a day to look forward to, where we enjoy both the intellectual stimulus (essential for octogenarians) but also the ethos which the Librarian’s team have established. It’s a real pleasure to help contribute something to their work.