About Orkney Library and Archive


Orkney Library and Archive, home to The Gunnie Moberg Archive, photographed from the tower of St Magnus Cathedral. Image credit here.

About Orkney Library and Archive 

Opened in 1683 Orkney Library is the oldest public library in Scotland. Find out more about the history of Kirkwall Library here

Orkney Archive is housed on the first floor of the Kirkwall Library. A separate archives department within the library service was started in 1973 and Alison Fraser was appointed as archivist in 1975.

The collection was built up from a small number of antiquarian papers to four strongrooms and a search room which heave with Church records, Local Authority Records, Sheriff Court papers, Estate Collections, Maps, Census material, and a huge number of personal contributions from members of the public.

Orkney Archives now employs four full time staff.

About the Photographic Archive

The photographic archive which began with the donation of about six thousand glass negatives of images by Orcadian photographer Tom Kent and now runs to over 60,000 photographs ranging from the 1870s to the present day. In 1986 a dedicated photographic archivist, David Mackie, was appointed.

The images are a priceless record of changes that were occurring throughout the UK as well as in Orkney. They show changes in the working and social lives of the people, changes in farming methods, the effects of two World Wars and the huge influx of military personnel, industries that have largely disappeared and much more.

You can view information on some of the photographers whose collections make up an important part of the Photographic Archive here

William H. Wood 1830 – 1903

Tom Kent 1863 – 1936

Robert Heddle Robertson 1872 – 1962

William Hourston 1895 – 1968

David Horne  b. 1877

Wilfred Marr 1922 – 1988

Dougie Shearer, Phoenix Photography 1912 – 2002

and now Gunnie Moberg 1941 – 2007

Follow the Orkney Archive blog ‘Get Dusty’ here

2 thoughts on “About Orkney Library and Archive

  1. On About Orkney Library & Archive, the link to the Orkney photo archive is unobtainable. Tom Kent’s dates are transposed?

    • Thank you Michael, I have updated the link. And you were right to spot something awry with Tom Kent’s dates. It was that the 1836 should have read 1936. Thank you for letting us know.

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