A rare Braille collection of the work of Robert Burns has been presented to the University of Glasgow.

The unique books, which are almost 50 years old, have been given to the university’s Centre for Robert Burns Studies on permanent loan from the Irvine Burns Club.

The collection was originally bought by Joan Muir, from Kilwinning in Ayrshire, who now wants to share the volumes with others.

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Mrs Muir, who has been blind since the age of three and has a guide dog called Elma, said: “I have gained so much from these works of Robert Burns and thoroughly enjoyed owning them for all these years. Although the books are almost 50 years old, the braille dots are still sharp and are easily read by a blind person.

“I have felt for some time that I didn’t want such a wonderful collection to be lost which is why I contacted Irvine Burns Club looking for a safe place for it to be kept.

“I am delighted that it will now be looked after in perpetuity by the University which will allow others to study and read these Burns poems and letters which are part of our Scottish literary heritage.”

The seven volumes were purchased to order from the Edinburgh-based Scottish Braille Press in the early 1970s.

They were created using the original steel plates and hydraulic press from the early 20th century, meaning the Braille is very sharp and clear.

Bill Nolan, secretary of Irvine Burns Club, said the decision to loan the books to the university was more in keeping with Mrs Muir’s wishes that they continue to be used.

He said: “We were very touched by Joan’s special and almost unique gift. However, when we considered it, we felt that, rather than storing it in our own library, the collection should be offered in perpetuity to the University’s Centre for Robert Burns Studies.

“We saw that as a perfect fit in linking conservation with the spread of knowledge.

“We hope that this will ensure that other Braille users will have the opportunity to enjoy these complete works of Scotland’s national bard and we would like to thank Joan for her generosity and support.”

Professor Roibeard O’Maolalaigh, who accepted the collection on behalf of the university, said: “The books are a wonderful piece of Braille history which helped to introduce Burns to a new audience.

“It is remarkable to think that this collection would have allowed the blind or partially sighted to read the wonderful words of Burns for themselves for the first time.

“We would like to thank Joan and Irvine Burns Club for this generous gift and we will ensure it is kept safe for further generations to study, read and enjoy.”