Real Lives: Martyn Wade retiring after 11 years

National Librarian Martyn Wade , who is retiring.
National Librarian Martyn Wade , who is retiring.
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A FIGUREHEAD who helped open up more than a million resources from the National Library (NLS) of Scotland to the public at the click of a button is retiring.

Martyn Wade, the body’s national librarian and chief executive, will finish up in the twin roles from March. His departure will bring to an end more than a decade spent introducing innovation to one of Scotland’s leading cultural institutions.

Martyn said: “After 11 years, I feel the time is right to move on and I’m very proud to have been part of the organisation during such a period of development and innovation.”

His tenure started in 2002, signalling a period where public access to the library’s world-class collections would grow.

In 2006, the building acquired the world-renowned John Murray Archive – a treasure trove of more than 200 years of the firm’s publishing history.

A public visitor centre was opened three years later under Martyn’s guidance, with the £2.24 million investment making the library more accessible and including a new café, shop and expanded exhibition space.

Among his other achievements was the launch of a special collections reading room last year.

All of the new offerings were opened at the library’s flagship building on George IV Bridge.

The departing chief executive led the merger of the Scottish Screen Archive (SSA) with NLS, while contributing to existing plans to find a permanent home for SSA at Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall.

He is also leading the development of a national sound archive for Scotland, but the growth in online access to library resources will be his greatest legacy.

Martyn made more than a million documents available via the internet in 2010 that were previously only available by visiting the NLS in person.

The introduction of the e-legal deposit service was also significant. The move allowed NLS and five other UK legal deposit libraries to start collecting and storing websites and born-digital material in the same way that printed material has been collected for centuries.

Martyn’s experience in the field has been extensive, having worked as head of libraries at Glasgow City Council before his appointment in Edinburgh. He has also been an active member within the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) where he chairs a committee on freedom of access to information.

Library board chairman James Boyle said: “Widening access to the public has been the cornerstone of Martyn Wade’s contribution to NLS. Martyn has ensured that many more people use the collections.

“Under his leadership, the library has taken major steps forward and we thank him for all that he has achieved.”