Wednesday, December 22nd, 2021

TinyCat’s December Library of the Month: Slighe nan Gàidheal

To read more about TinyCat’s Library of the Month feature, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

TinyCat’s December Library of the Month is for the linguists and Gaelic fans in the crowd. Thanks to Slighe nan Gàidheal and Library Committee Chair Brian Newell for answering my questions this month:

Who are you, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”?

The library is part of Slighe nan Gàidheal (SnG) or, “Way of the Gaels” in Scottish Gaelic—a non-profit organization based in Seattle, Washington. Since 1997, we have built a dynamic and active membership base and grown into a lively, welcoming community of language-learners, musicians, singers, dancers, historians, artists, storytellers, and Celtic scholars.

The library’s mission is to support SnG’s teaching and dissemination of Scottish Gaelic language in its contemporary and historical context, supporting classes, performances, and individual study by its members.

Objectives include providing:

  • support to learners enrolled in our Zero-to-Gaelic (Z2G) language-instruction program, in cooperation with the Gaelic Education Committee and with the presenters in the Z2G program
  • support to presenters in the Z2G program
  • support for Gaelic-language instruction at SnG’s biennial Féisean (Gaelic cultural festivals) and other activities
  • support to members of SnG who are engaged in independent study of Gaelic
  • management and development of SnG’s collections of Gaelic-language learning materials (dictionaries, grammars, self-teaching texts, etc.), literature in Gaelic, library materials about the Gaelic language, and related topics.

Tell us some interesting things about how your library supports the community.

The library has over 500 items which gives our members access to a wide variety of material for their Scottish Gaelic language studies or other cultural interests. We also have an extensive number of novels, short story collections, song and poetry collections, and non-fictional works. Some of these titles are written only in Scottish Gaelic, but many are dual-language or English only, giving our members plenty to choose from to borrow or to preview before purchasing a copy for their own use.

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?

What makes Slighe nan Gàidheal so enjoyable is the diversity of its members, their many different goals for learning the Scottish Gaelic language, and the varied depth of knowledge. With such a diverse group comes so many favorites. A few of the Library Committee’s favorite items are:

  • The children’s book A’ Chaparaid (The Tumult) by Phyllis Root.
  • The Silver Bough Series: An indispensable, 4-volume treasury of Scottish folklore and folk belief. The Silver Bough involved many years of research into both living and recorded folklore and remains a classic of literature.
  • Asterix ann an dùthaich nan Cruithneach (Asterix in the land of the Picts) by Jean-Yves Ferri: A Scottish Gaelic graphic novel built upon the famous French-language franchise. This satire is for advanced students looking for contemporary banter to spice up their conversations and who enjoy searching for puns on every page.
  • Cleas Sgàthain by Màiri Anna NicDhòmhnaill: An identical-twin-exchange humorous novel.
  • The Spàgan series by Ellen Blance: This series of illustrated short stories are an enjoyable way for Scottish Gaelic learners to improve their grammar and reading skills.

What’s a particular challenge your library experiences?

Since we don’t have a physical “home” for SnG, all functions are held in rented facilities. Our library materials are held in a storage locker and items are retrieved and returned on an ad hoc basis. This makes it difficult for our members to browse the entire library and discover items that support their interests. We encouraged circulation and promoted the library’s TinyCat catalog during in-person events and in our newsletter—but it’s not the same as looking through the physical items. These COVID times have made promotions a greater challenge as our language classes and other meetings are now virtual.

What is your favorite thing about TinyCat, and what’s something you’d love to see implemented/developed?

Using TinyCat is a huge step forward for our members’ access to the library. Using LibraryThing and Readerware are good tools for our library management but are not as useful to most of our members. TinyCat provides us with an easy-to-use interface for searching and browsing the library, a tool for members to reserve items, and a way for us to manage checked-out items. 

One area becoming more common is receiving library material as digital media. We have audio files and videos in our collection and would like to have the ability for our members to “check them out” and listen to or watch them directly from TinyCat.

This is definitely something our libraries are coming across more often. While we don’t have any current plans to host library materials, we’ll be sure to announce any changes on this front. Thanks for the feedback!

Want to learn more about Slighe nan Gàidheal? Visit their website here and find their full TinyCat collection here.

To read up on TinyCat’s previous Libraries of the Month, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

Want to be considered for TinyCat’s Library of the Month? Send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat


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