One final post: The Future of the Book - the votes are in!

I promised that we would share the results of the poll we conducted during Imprentit, where visitors were asked to vote on the question: 'Do you think that people will still be reading printed books in 100 years' time?'

Out of 881 votes, 812 voted YES and 69 voted NO.

Of course this was a traditional cross-in-ballot-box vote - maybe if we had asked people online, we would have had a different response. But my own personal opinion is that people will always read printed text, however the technologies of print will change, although they may use other ways to find information than reading printed texts. People still read newspapers, but they also get their news from all kinds of other sources; they still look at train timetables, but they also consult everything from teletext to twitter to get the latest travel news.

But even in the age of the e-book, I also think that there will always be a place for the codex - like the wheel, it's a simple invention that functions brilliantly.

So here ends our Imprentit blog - from the statistics, it looks as if some of these entries have had as many visitors as our real exhibition did. We're going to leave this site up - some time in the new year, we hope to launch a new NLS Rare Books blog which will be regularly updated with news about acquisitions, displays, events, and sometimes just interesting stuff that we find in our collections - watch this space...

A found poem for National Poetry Day

Beside our Literature case is a 'wall of words', consisting of quotations from some of the writers it contains. Here, for National Poetry Day, is that wall. I'll put an edited version with the sources in a comment below.

Auld Scotland has a raucle tongue,
She's just a devil wi' a rung;
An' if she promise auld or young
To tak their part,
Tho' by the neck she should be strung,
She'll no desert.

To speak in the poetical language of my country,
the seat of the Celtic Muse
is in the mist of the secret and solitary hill,
and her voice in the murmur
of the mountain stream.

A pale green light poured down from the wintry sky,
as though this earth were lit by chance rays from some other world.

'He canny help his feet. At least
he's no' a wee Glasgow bauchle like you.'

'Aye, all right, I'd rather be
A Glasgow bauchle than a drip like him.'

What they had was not love.
But it had beauty, and it served.

And there was the bridal bed, pulled out from the wall,
all in white it was, with sheet and blanket turned back,
the window curtains were drawn, and in the moment
they stood breathing from their climb of the stairs
Chris heard the sound of the snow that stroked the window,
with quiet, soft fingers, as though writing it there.

Oh my luve is like a red red rose
That's newly sprung in June

They gazed with blanched faces
at the House with the Green Shutters,
sitting dark there and terrible,
beneath the radiant arch of the dawn.

Thus were we all throng'd in so strait a cage,
I chang'd my looks and hair, before my age,
Dreaming on liberty (by strong desire
My soul made apt to hope) and did admire
Those gallant mindes, enslav'd to such a woe,
(My heart within my brest dissolv'd like snow
Before the Sunne) as one would side-wayes cast
His eye on pictures, which his feet hath past.

They won't let ye
dae it. They won't
let ye dae it,
because it's seen
as ah sign ay thir ain failure.
The fact that ye jist
simply choose tae reject
whit they huv to offer.
Choose us.
Choose life.

and there is that transient brightness of a minute blossom
almost invisible in the undergrowth,
uniquely recognisable by such as persist in the quest, but
unlisted in any index or encyclopaedia of the possible.

Fra that I saw that God was gane,
And I in languor left allane,
And sair tormentit to:
Sum time I sicht quhill I was sad,
Sum tyme I musit and maist gane mad,
I wist not quhat to do:
Sum tyme I ravid half in a rage,
As ane into dispaire:
To be opprest with sic ane page
Lord gif my heart was faire:
Like Dido, Cupido,
I widill and I warye:
Quha reft me, and left me
In sik a feire-farye.

I love to muse upon the skill that gangs
To mak' the simplest thing that Earth displays.
The eident life that ilka atom thrangs,
And uses it in the appointit ways,
And a' the endless brain that nocht escapes
That myriad moves them to inimitable shapes.

Yes today we're in love aren't we?
with the whole splintering city
its big quick river wintry bridges
its brazen black Victorian heart.
So what if every other tenement
wears its hearth on its gable end
all I want
is my glad eye to catch
a glint in your flinty Northern face again
just once.

Cha chiumhne leam do bhriathran,
eadhon ni a thubhairt thu,
ach abhainn Arois an àileadh iadhshlait
is àileadh roid air Suidhisnis.

I do not remember your words, even a thing you said,
but Aros Burn in the smell of honey-suckle
and the smell of bog-myrtle on Suishnish.

Scots dictionaries on display

This year is not only the 500th anniversary of printing in Scotland, but also the 200th anniversary of the publication of John Jamieson's Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish language. Generally called Scots or Lowland Scots today, this language is still thriving, even though it was already said to be dying in the days of Robert Burns.

To commemorate the anniversary, we have put up a display of Scots dictionaries past and present, of modern Scots books and of the work of Scottish Language Dictionaries.

On show are (among others) a copy of the first edition of Jamieson's groundbreaking Etymological dictionary, a huge volume filled with tipped-in manuscript notes about Scots words in Jamieson's own hand, which he compiled for a supplement to his dictionary, and a 16th century Scots glossary. Don't miss the modern books by Tom Leonard, Christine De Luca, Edwin Morgan and other contemporary Scots writers!

You find the display in the so-called Treasures are, the room you automatically go through to the main Imprentit exhibition.

Open to view

Imprentit was officially opened last night by Linda Fabiani, Minister for Europe, External Affairs and Culture. This is always the moment of truth, when after we have spent so long putting an exhibition together, we finally get to find out what other people think - and yes, so far all the comments have been nice ones.

I want to thank our events team for putting on such a great opening event. The highlight was definitely a performance by Billy Kay and Rod Patterson, a taster for the 9th September, when they will be celebrating the Scots language in the event 'The Mither Tongue' at NLS. In particular I really appreciated that they began with a poem by William Dunbar, whose poems were printed by Chepman and Myllar. At some point I will have to post about Dunbar's contribution to the introduction of print to Scotland - a fascinating subject for speculation.

Speaking of Scots brings me to the word Imprentit itself. What to call an exhibition is always the subject of long discussion. In this case, we settled on 'Imprentit' - which, grammar fans, is the past participle of the old Scots word 'imprent'. Chepman and Myllar use the phrase 'imprentit in the South Gait of Edinburgh' in the colophon to the first dated book printed in Scotland.

So now the exhibition is open - enjoy...

Imprentit: 500 Years of the Scottish Printed Word

Welcome to the National Library of Scotland's first exhibition blog. The exhibition is Imprentit: 500 Years of the Scottish Printed Word, and you can see it at the National Library's George IV Bridge building from Friday 27 June to Sunday 12 October 2008.

From Bibles to the Beezer, dictionaries to demonology, Lanark to logarithms and from temperance to television, the printed word in Scotland has had a profound impact on every aspect of our nation's life over the last five centuries. Imprentit takes a fascinating look at this rich history, giving visitors a rare chance to view some of the highlights from the Library's vast collection of treasures. Some of the 'firsts' on display include the earliest Scottish books from the presses of Chepman and Myllar in 1508; Napier's logarithms; Logie Baird's first account of television; the first Bible printed in Scotland; the first Scottish printed book written by a woman; the first newspapers and the first ever Beezer annual.

For those who can't visit the exhibition, this blog will offer posts about items on display. We will also be blogging about events related to the exhibition, and taking advantage of the blog to go into detail about some exhibits, and to pull together some of the themes. And of course we welcome any comments, whether you've seen the exhibition or you find something else of interest here.

Right now we're putting the final touches to the exhibition. Books are sitting on cradles patiently waiting for a conservator to place them gently in their cases. The lighting designer is carefully adjusting lights; carpenters are hammering; the team involved in putting this exhibition together are making those final last-minute adjustments to sound, interactive materials, labels. Five hundred years of Scottish print is about to go on show - in our exhibition hall and here on this blog.

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