Left: the new E Library provides quick and easy access to the extensive Caird Library at the museum. Photo: Simon Rose. © 24 Hour Museum.
Baroness Blackstone, Minister of State for the Arts, was on hand to unveil the National Maritime Museum's state-of-the-art new E Library on May 14.
The extension of the historic Caird Library aims to offer greater public access to the world's most comprehensive maritime collection.
Boasting an impressive range of new electronic resources, the E Library makes it possible to search the collections, carry out in-depth historical research and order images from anywhere in the world.
Right: the Arts Minister met with students from local schools. Photo: Simon Rose. © 24 Hour Museum.
There is also a comfy lounge area, with children's books and magazines on offer for younger visitors. An adjoining reprographics room provides colour printing services and viewing facilities for the museum's film archive and microfiche newspapers.
"I am very keen on our museums finding ways to widen user participation and to improve access to national collections," said Baroness Blackstone.
"This initiative has my full support, because it serves the community - including young people - and encourages their active participation. The facility is an excellent example of extending the reach of an important collection through web-based resources."
Left: the National Maritime Museum's huge collection is now just a click away. Photo: Simon Rose. © 24 Hour Museum.
"The E Library will enable people to explore British maritime history and astronomy in a new and exciting way, while many of the materials are also available to those at home - across the country and abroad - through the Internet."
After her speech Baroness Blackstone took time out to chat to children from nearby John Roan School, who were among the first visitors to try out the new facilities.
Roy Clare, Director of the National Maritime Museum, added: "Access and learning are at the core of the museum's provision for our visitors, and we are continually working to remove barriers in participation to learning."
Right: containing over 100,000 books dating from 1474 to the present day, the Caird Library houses the world's most comprehensive collection of maritime books. Photo: Simon Rose. © 24 Hour Museum.
"The opening of the E Library is a key element of our strategy to widen access for lifelong learners. This new initiative will offer increased public access to specifically designed web-based electronic resources centred on the museum collections."
"The area has been designed with family learning in mind and offers books for young people and a supportive environment for study."