James Beaton, Librarian at the National Piping Centre in Glasgow

James Beaton, Librarian at the National Piping Centre in Glasgow

James Beaton, Librarian at the National Piping Centre in Glasgow

Hello Everyone

About Me

My name is James Beaton, and I am Librarian at the National Piping Centre in Glasgow. The Centre exists to promote the study of the music and history of the Highland bagpipe. The Highland bagpipe is probably the most familiar one to most people, and is associated with Scotland. It is however, merely one of about 130 different kinds of bagpipes from around the world.

The Centre teaches students at all levels, from absolute beginner to those who play at the very highest/virtuoso level. Also, the Centre partners with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland to deliver tuition plus courses in history and repertoire of the bagpipe to students of the Conservatoire taking the instrument as their first study on the BA Scottish Music degree.

Students on their year abroad from overseas universities, mainly in the United States, but also mainland Europe, Australasia and South America, come to us for a semester long course called The Bagpipes: History and Repertoire.

What I do

I run the Centre’s Library, which is a small specialist library focusing on printed collections of music for the Highland bagpipe, but also on works relating to the history and culture of the instrument. We also have strong sound collections going back to the 1920s (all digitised and awaiting editing before going on to our elearning portal) and some archival collections of manuscripts and photographs. We provide support to teaching staff and students of the Centre, in terms of scores, as well as background material.

I also teach. I teach the history part of the semester course, and I occasionally teach basic piping (I play) to semester students, and I also step in to help with teaching on the BA Scottish Music course at the Conservatoire when needed, and this has involved me in teaching Gaelic to 1st and 2nd years, as well as doing an overview of the bagpipes music and history to 1st years.


I have a degree in Celtic Studies from Edinburgh University, as well as a Postgraduate Diploma in Librarianship and Information Studies from Robert Gordon’s Institute of Technology (yes, it was that long ago!) and an MSc(Econ) from the University of Wales at Aberystwyth. I am a fluent Gaelic speaker (although not native), and I am also a piper. I previously worked in health libraries, having developed an interest in health information. I have been at the Centre since 2010, and during my time there, as well as running the Library, I have overseen an oral history project called “Noting the Tradition”, which interviewed people involved in the piping world. The website is here http://www.thepipingcentre.co.uk/museum-heritage/noting-the-tradition/interviews/

Why Tweet?

I tweet under my own account @jjb362 and for me, tweeting is a way of using language to communicate succinctly, and I find the challenges of that fascinating. I also see it as a means of forming e-communities, not only for social purposes, but for personal and professional development. My only personal account, I use socially, but also use it for being part of wider communities of fellow professionals, both bibliothecal and academic, and fellow Gaels on both sides of the Irish Sea. Tweeting pipers are more of a rarity!

What I will be tweeting about

I will be tweeting about what’s going on in the Library, and will also try to give you some idea of the variety of the job. We are a small operation, so if things need to be picked up, then they need to be picked up. I will also be going to Inverness on Thursday of this coming week, to put up a Noting the Tradition display at one of the major piping competitions, as well as interview a retired professional player for Noting the Tradition. I also compete as a Grade 1 amateur player, and will be doing that this week as well, when in Inverness, so there may well be a nervous tweet or two!

Want to Contact Me?

This is best done through my personal Twitter account @jjb362 – I look forward to hearing from you.

One thought on “James Beaton, Librarian at the National Piping Centre in Glasgow

  1. sandra

    Thank you so much for coming to our school,you were FANTASTIC!! We hope you enjoyed our performances too? I am sorry I did not see you when you were leaving-I would have thanked you again.You are a true gentleman and your look very nice in your kilt
    Owe you big time

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