Press release from Shetland Amenity Trust, 5th March 2007




A valuable collection of Shetland and saga literature is being transferred to the Shetland Museum and Archives, 57 years after it was donated to the Shetland Library.


The Goudie Collection was assembled by James Mouat Goudie, a Lerwick businessman and provost, in the early part of the 20th Century and readers and researchers will once again be able to access the documents at the Shetland Museum and Archives, when the building opens in May 2007.


James Mouat Goudie was also joint secretary of the Shetland Literary and Scientific Society and was keenly interested in local antiquities and the language and literature of Scandinavia. His fascination with this distinct material led to him accumulating one of the isles’ most important collections, made up of books on subjects ranging from archaeology and antiquities to nature, dialect and folklore.


After Goudie’s death in 1928, William Ratter, a public assistance officer in Lerwick, and George Russell, the town clerk, began a subscription to acquire Goudie’s books for the town.  By March 1929, both men had obtained the required amount and from then until 1950 the collection was kept in Lerwick Town Hall.


In the late 1940’s   Zetland County Librarian George Longmuir made the suggestion that the collection would be better housed in the County Library and in May 1950 the collected works were transferred and decorated with the Council’s bookplate.


Douglas Garden, Support Services Librarian, says: “The collection holds a valuable insight not only into Shetland’s history, but also that of Scandinavia.  Both the Shetland Library and the Shetland Museum and Archives have agreed that the new building, with its space and environmental advantages, is the best place to keep this unique literature.  However, the materials will still be identified in our online catalogue as being part of the Goudie collection held within the archives.”



Archivist Brian Smith said: “We are delighted to accept this valuable new addition to our collection. It greatly adds to the resources we can offer in the new building. Our aim is to gather together all unique material relating to Shetland and this collection is a further step in that direction.”


The books are in the process of being transferred from the Shetland Library and readers requiring access to the collection, before the Shetland Museum and Archives opens in May, should contact the Shetland Library in the first instance.


The Shetland Museum and Archives will represent a museum of international significance, and will be both an informative introduction for visitors to the islands, and an important cultural hub for islanders themselves. Led by the Shetland Amenity Trust, this £11.6m project offers a rich insight into the development of Shetland from its geological beginnings to the present day.  The Museum and Archives will be an inspirational starting point for visitors exploring many other key sites, visitor centres and collections on the islands.


For further information please contact Charlotte Kissack or Rebecca Salt at Colman Getty PR on 0131 558 8851 or email or Sita Hughson at the Shetland Museum and Archives on 01595 694 688.




1.     The Shetland Library online catalogue is available through their website:

2.     The Shetland Museum and Archives will open to the public in May 2007.  Built on the historic 19th century site of Hay’s Dock in Lerwick, this iconic building – a new landmark for Shetland - replaces the old Shetland Museum and Shetland Archives, and offers a rich insight into the development of Shetland from its geological beginnings to the present day.

3.     The key funders of The Shetland Museum and Archives are the Shetland Charitable Trust and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

4.     The Shetland Museum and Archives is part of the wider heritage and culture services provided for Shetland by the Shetland Amenity Trust.