Fraser Allen – how I found the Library of Mistakes

Fraser Allen | Feb 20, 2023

cathedral photo

Our media/PR guru tells how he came across the Library.

A few years ago, I heard about a mysterious place in Edinburgh called the Library of Mistakes. It was tucked away in a small mews building and, but for a small sign with its distinctive logo, you’d never know it was there.

Furthermore, the only way to get in was to access the website, register as a ‘reader’ and book a visit. My curiosity was piqued.

I secured an interview in the library with its founder, Professor Russell Napier, and departed feeling like a missionary.

Russell founded the Library of Mistakes because he believes that one of humanity’s greatest failings is its inability to learn from the mistakes of the past.

And as a financial expert, he sees that writ large in the cyclical nature of the money markets and the repetitive blunders of business leaders, bankers, investors and governments.

Consequently, with the support of generous donors, he created a truly charming library, with thousands of books and some wonderfully quirky artwork, to kickstart his global campaign to “improve understanding of business and financial history one mistake at a time”.

Shortly after that meeting, I volunteered to manage the Library’s Linkedin and Twitter feeds, building up a significant following (and now Leila E Johnston is also doing a grand job on Instagram).

More recently, I’ve also starting producing an excellent podcast series in which Russell interviews finance and business authors about, you guessed it, mistakes.

It now clocks up audiences of 3-4,000 per episode, which is huge for a business podcast launched on a shoestring with little fanfare.

More importantly, the library is now in bigger premises (again, beautifully designed) and there is a programme of lectures (which are free to attend – as is the library itself) and can also be watched online wherever you are in the world.

It’s extraordinary what Russell and his network of great supporters have achieved and, as we yet again find ourselves navigating choppy economic waters, it feels as if the Library’s message is starting to hit home.

The Library of Mistakes Course

The online version of our renowned course, is available for both finance professionals and nonprofessionals.

As featured in the Financial Times

In conjunction with Heriot-Watt University

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