Events at the National Library

National Library of Scotland events are free and take place in our Edinburgh George IV Bridge Building, unless we state otherwise.

Places are limited, so we recommend that you book in advance.

We use Eventbrite for online event bookings. When you book an event you will be taken to the Eventbrite website. You can also phone 0131 623 3734.

September events | October events | November events | December events

List updated: 26 September.

For more information, or to join the events mailing list, email nlsevents@nls.uk.


September events in Edinburgh

See also:
Edinburgh workshops and tours
Glasgow Kelvin Hall events

Secret lochs and special places

Photograph of Bruce Sandison

Celebrated nature writer and angling correspondent Bruce Sandison talks about the Scottish outdoors and his own incredible career. Sandison has been a correspondent for 'Trout & Salmon', 'The Scotsman', 'The Courier' and 'Aberdeen Press & Journal'. He regularly writes his Sandison's Scotland column in 'Fly Fishing and Fly Tying'.

Tuesday 27 September
18.00
This event is now fully booked.


You are here… at last: The story of the map exhibition

Detail from the Naturalist's map of Scotland

Maps Curator Paula Williams tells the inside story of the Library's map exhibition, 'You are here'. From early ideas, through planning and building to the final product, exhibitions can be years in the making. Learn about the challenge of selecting 50 maps from more than two million in the Library's collection, how they are prepared for display, and what lessons were learned in the process.

Wednesday 28 September
14.00
This event is now fully booked.


Open Book: A weekly shared reading group

An open book with glasses resting on top

This shared reading group is open to everyone. Drop in to our café to explore fiction and poetry in a relaxed, informal setting. There is no need to read or prepare anything in advance. Each session is facilitated by a volunteer from the Open Book project.

Every Tuesday
10.30-11.30
Free. No need to book, just come along on the day.


October events in Edinburgh

See also:
Edinburgh workshops and tours
Glasgow Kelvin Hall events

Keeping the jewel in the crown: The British betrayal of India

Cover of 'Keeping the jewel in the crown'

Walter Reid — acclaimed author of military and political history — explores Britain's role in India after the Second World War. His research uncovered a wealth of evidence to suggest that, far from easing India's passage to independence, Britain deliberately held back India's progress. This lead to repercussions that are still felt today.

Monday 3 October
18.00
This event is now fully booked.


Open Book: A weekly shared reading group

An open book with glasses resting on top

This shared reading group is open to everyone. Drop in to our café to explore fiction and poetry in a relaxed, informal setting. There is no need to read or prepare anything in advance. Each session is facilitated by a volunteer from the Open Book project.

Every Tuesday
10.30-11.30
Free. No need to book, just come along on the day.


Looking at maps: Monthly discussion group

Detail from Forlani's Map of the Americas

Maps provoke a wide range of responses — memories of favourite places, dreams of future journeys, a focus for hobbies and special interests, a source of inspiration for stories, poems, and art. Each month we invite you to come along to this alternative 'reading group' and to share your response to our 'Map of the month'.

This month's map will be 'A map of the Americas' by Paolo Forlani.

Tuesday 4 October
14.00
Free. Book October's 'Looking at maps' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.


Urban planning, preservation and 'subtopia'

Photograph of a city

Urban area management falls between proactive planning and reactive heritage preservation. It involves the conservation of objects within the urban realm, not least promoting societal well-being and avoiding 'subtopia'. RSA Fellows Adam Wilkinson (Edinburgh World Heritage CEO) and Dr Deborah Mays (The Heritage Place CEO) explore why urban places need protection, what we are looking after, and who benefits.

Tuesday 18 October
18.00
Free. Book 'Urban planning' on Eventbrite, or phone on 0131 556 2052 (Monday 19 September only between 9.30-12.30). Enquiries to ann.packard@council-rsa.org.uk


The question of Scotland: Devolution and after

Cover of 'The question of Scotland'

Tam Dalyell offers a personal reflection on why the UK is on the brink of the most serious constitutional crisis in its history. Exploring the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, the 2015 General Election, and the 2016 EU referendum, Dalyell offers sage advice. He suggests ways forward, which will inform debate as the UK moves into a new political era. Chaired by Dr John Scally, National Librarian of the National Library of Scotland.

Thursday 20 October
18.00
This event is now fully booked.


Storytelling festival: A journey through maps

Storytelling Festival logo

An afternoon of readings and stories on the theme of maps, mapping and travel, to complement the Library's current exhibition, 'You are Here: A journey through maps'. With Maps Curator Paula Williams and storyteller Marion Kenny.

Tuesday 25 October
14.00-15.00
Free. Book 'A journey through maps' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.


Storytelling festival: Stories in the skies

Storytelling Festival logo

An afternoon of stories and poems as part of the Storytelling Festival's star-gazing strand. Dream the magic of the heavens with the participation of Joanna Geyer-Kordesch, Donald Smith and Janis Mackay.

Wednesday 26 October
14.30-15.30
Free. Book 'Stories in the skies' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.

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Sara Sheridan: Dreaming history

Cover of 'Dreaming history' by Sara Sheridan

To celebrate National Chocolate Day, Edinburgh author Sara Sheridan talks about how she took archive material from the Library and created fiction from it, with chocolate. 'On starlit seas' is a historical novel, set at the time of the cutthroat origins of the UK's chocolate smuggling industry. Learn about the history of chocolate and maybe get to try some too!

Thursday 27 October
18.00
Free. Book 'Dreaming history' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.


Storytelling festival: From the Scottish Borders to South America

Storytelling Festival logo

An afternoon exploring the story of George Anderson, one of the many Borders shepherds who sought a new life in South America during the 19th century. His story is woven with traditional tales and ballads from the old country, and stories from the new world. With storytellers Mary Kenny and Daniel Hernandez, and Literature and Arts Curator Andrew Martin.

Friday 28 October
14.00-15.30
Free. Book 'From the Scottish Borders to South America' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.


Storytelling festival: Ghostly tales for telling

Storytelling Festival logo

It is 200 years since a rainy, lonely ghost tale challenge on Lake Geneva, where 'Frankenstein' breathed for the first time! Six winning tales from the 2016 ghost story competition are told live by some of Scotland's most accomplished storytellers. Chill the blood before venturing out for the Samhain fires. With storytellers Michael Williams, Claire Druett, Daniel Allison, Ian Stephen, Fiona Herbert and Tim Porteus.

Monday 31 October
18.30-20.30
£7 (£6 concessions, £5 supporters). Book 'Ghostly tales for telling' online, by phone on 0131 556 9579, or in person at 43-45 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1SR.


November events in Edinburgh

See also:
Edinburgh workshops and tours
Glasgow Kelvin Hall events

Open Book: A weekly shared reading group

An open book with glasses resting on top

This shared reading group is open to everyone. Drop in to our café to explore fiction and poetry in a relaxed, informal setting. There is no need to read or prepare anything in advance. Each session is facilitated by a volunteer from the Open Book project.

Every Tuesday
10.30-11.30
Free. No need to book, just come along on the day.


Looking at maps: Monthly discussion group

Detail from Forlani's Map of the Americas

Maps provoke a wide range of responses — memories of favourite places, dreams of future journeys, a focus for hobbies and special interests, a source of inspiration for stories, poems, and art. Each month we invite you to come along to this alternative 'reading group' and to share your response to our 'Map of the month'.

This month's map will be 'A celestial atlas' by J Middleton, 1842.

Tuesday 1 November
14.00
Free. Book November's 'Looking at maps' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.


A goldmine and the girl in the moon

Detail from a map of Scotland

Colin MacDonald — former radio producer and journalist, turned screenwriter and writer — takes us on a personal journey through the Library's map collection. MacDonald travels by map from Dornoch to the Aveyron and on to the moon, telling stories along the way. With Maps Curator Paula Williams as tour guide to help him, MacDonald highlights the richness and diversity of maps, and their power to inspire.

Wednesday 2 November
18.00
Free. Book 'A goldmine and the girl in the moon' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.


Owen Dudley Edwards: Towards the 45th President

American Union battle flags and an eagle

Revolutionary? Constitutional? Archaic? Futuristic? How does 2016's race for the White House square with the history of the Presidency? How would the two candidates go down with the first 40 Presidents? What is the importance of the nominees for Vice-President? Is the Electoral College undemocratic and should it be replaced? What will the new President mean to us? Join Owen Dudley Edwards as he discusses all these and many more questions.

Thursday 3 November
18.00
This event is now fully booked.


Muriel Spark Annual Lecture 2016

Photograph of Muriel Spark

Muriel Spark expressed admiration of the work of Piero della Francesca (1416-1492). Francesca painted a landscape still familiar to a dweller in the hills above Arezzo. The people who inhabited his usually religious works are constructed rather than observed, and of a remoteness and unnatural stillness. Dr James Lawson — Senior Lecturer in Edinburgh College of Art's School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture — characterises Francesca's art and ponders the sensibility which fascinated Spark.

Wednesday 16 November
18.00
This event is now fully booked.


New voices

New voices logo

Discover the brightest debut literary talents in our regular showcase, chaired by Jenny Brown. Be the first to hear tomorrow's prizewinning and bestselling authors, as four writers read from their work and talk inspiringly about their road to publication. Tonight, a chance to hear the brightest new voices in the 'tartan noir' genre: Les Wood with 'Dark side of the moon', Sandra Ireland with 'Beneath the skin', and William McIntyre with 'Present tense'.

Thursday 17 November
18.00
Free. Book 'New voices' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.


Un-discovered islands: An archipelago of myths and mysteries, phantoms and fakes

Book Week Scotland's Map Day

Cover of 'The un-discovered islands'

In celebration of the Library's maps exhibition 'You are Here', bestselling author Malachy Tallack explores islands that no longer appear on maps. The products of imagination, deception and sometimes simple human error, Tallack presents an atlas of legend and wonder, of places discovered and then un-discovered.

Monday 21 November
14.00
Free. Book 'Un-discovered islands' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.


Scotland: Mapping the islands

Book Week Scotland's Map Day

Cover of 'Scotland: Mapping the islands'

'Scotland: Mapping the islands' is published in October by Birlinn in association with the National Library. The book looks at the history and geography behind the many maps of Scotland's islands. Two of the authors — Geographer Royal for Scotland Charles Withers, and Library Map Curator Chris Fleet — give a fully illustrated talk about the book and its central themes. There will also be a book signing with the three authors — including Margaret Wilkes — after the talk.

Monday 21 November
18.00
Free. Book 'Mapping the islands' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.


SCO wider connections: The music of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies

A St Andrews Night event

Sheet music and musical instrument

The works of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies — the late Scottish Chamber Orchestra's Composer Laureate — impacted a wide range of musical genres and styles. Lucy Forde and guests explore how the music and traditions of Scotland have influenced creativity within classical music. This event is linked to the SCO's concert on 1 December at the Queen's Hall.

Tuesday 22 November
18.00
Free. Book 'SCO wider connections' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.


Night shadows — An evening of songs, readings and stories inspired by the Gothic tradition

A Book Week Scotland event

Painting of a gargoyle-like creature

Explore the horror, romance, and darkness of Gothic tradition, through music and the spoken word. The journey takes us from the dark Scottish 'neuks' of James Hogg and Robert Louis Stevenson, over windswept English moorland, across to foreboding labyrinths of old Germanic forests. The event features songs and music by Helen Clark, inspired by fiction from Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein' to Sarah Waters' 'Fingersmith'. Associated tales, readings and poems are delivered by master storyteller David Campbell.

Thursday 24 November
18.00
Free. Book 'Night shadows' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.


Thanksgiving day: Henrietta Liston and the prehistory of the 'Special Relationship'

An early view of British-American relations

Photograph of Frank Cogliano

Frank Cogliano explores the history of British-American relations, with particular reference to the astute observations of Henrietta Liston. Henrietta was married to Robert Liston, the British Minister to the United States between 1796 and 1800. Cogliano is Professor of American History at the University of Edinburgh. His most recent book is 'Emperor of liberty: Thomas Jefferson's foreign policy' (2014).

Tuesday 29 November
18.00
Free. Book 'Thanksgiving day' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.


December events in Edinburgh

See also:
Edinburgh workshops and tours
Glasgow Kelvin Hall events

Christmas shopping night

A lit candle with holly and berries

Our annual Christmas Fair offers yuletide bargains and festive treats galore. Enjoy a 20% discount on everything in our shop, from exhibition prints, mugs and candles to hard-to-find books and children's favourites. Once you've shopped, relax with our tasty refreshments and festive entertainment. A delightful way to see in the Christmas season!

Thursday 1 December
18.00-20.00
Free. No need to book, just come along on the night.


Open Book: A weekly shared reading group

An open book with glasses resting on top

This shared reading group is open to everyone. Drop in to our café to explore fiction and poetry in a relaxed, informal setting. There is no need to read or prepare anything in advance. Each session is facilitated by a volunteer from the Open Book project.

Every Tuesday
10.30-11.30
Free. No need to book, just come along on the day.


The life and legacy of Eric R Cregeen

Black and white photograph of a man wearing a cap

Margaret Bennett explores internationally renowned social historian Eric R Cregeen's legacy. His 24 fieldwork notebooks form the basis for this illustrated talk. Until recently, these handwritten notebooks remained with the Cregeen family, but are exhibited for the first time tonight, along with selected manuscripts and artefacts.

Monday 5 December
14.00
Free. Book 'The life and legacy of Eric R Cregeen' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.


Looking at maps: Monthly discussion group

Detail from Forlani's Map of the Americas

Maps provoke a wide range of responses — memories of favourite places, dreams of future journeys, a focus for hobbies and special interests, a source of inspiration for stories, poems, and art. Each month we invite you to come along to this alternative 'reading group' and to share your response to our 'Map of the month'.

This month's map will be 'A plan of the battle of Culloden' by John Finlayson, 1764.

Tuesday 6 December
14.00
Free. Book December's 'Looking at maps' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.


Poetry pamphlet fair

People looking at poetry pamphlets

Independent Scottish poetry publishing is going from strength to strength. This festive fair at the Library is always a popular event. Come along for a glass of wine and hear the poems, meet the publishers and buy the pamphlets.

Thursday 8 December
18.00-20.00
Free. No need to book, just come along on the night.


See also:



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