Events at the National Library

National Library of Scotland events are free and take place in our 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.

July events | August events | September events

List updated: 19 July.

For more information, or to join the events mailing list, email

July events

See also: Workshops and tours

Scottish women of science: Remarkable women from our past

Photograph of Maria Gordon

Another chance to hear Scottish women of science. The Library's Science Curator, Catherine Booth, shares stories from her research into the lives and work of Scottish female scientists. Although little-known today, several of these scientists achieved 'firsts' for women. Overcoming prejudice and other obstacles, they made significant contributions to scientific progress in a variety of disciplines. Among those included are geologist and women's welfare champion, Dame Maria Gordon (1864-1939).

Tuesday 26 July
This event is now fully booked.

In the interests of the nation: First World War propaganda

Detail from illustrated First World War Propaganda

Library curator Jan Usher talks First World War propaganda. As director of the Department of Information, John Buchan said that the aim of propaganda was to 'direct British opinion when direction is needed', and 'keep the home fires burning'. Anti-German propaganda used the entire repertoire: stereotypes, atrocity stories, slogans, the bandwagon effect, and repetition. Kept secret, it was not until 1935 that these activities became public knowledge.

Thursday 28 July
This event is now fully booked.

August events

See also: Workshops and tours

Fringe show 2016: 'The secret of the kelpie' — A journey round Scotland

2016 Edinburgh Fringe logo

'Every loch in Scotland, however beautiful, has its cold, dark depths. And every loch in Scotland has its kelpie. But it's easy to forget those dangers on a sunny afternoon…'

Join storyteller and author Lari Don for an energetic gallop through her new book, 'The secret of the kelpie'. What is a kelpie anyway? What does it eat for breakfast? And can it be defeated? Discover some of the myths, legends and monsters hiding on the old maps of Scotland, and perhaps even invent your own new Scottish beasties!

9-13 August

Tickets cost £5.
Book 'The secret of the kelpie' through Edinburgh Fringe, phone their booking line on 0131 226 0000 (June-August only), or purchase at the Fringe Box Office, 160 High Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1QS.


Fringe show 2016: The joy of spines (spoken word)

2016 Edinburgh Fringe logo

Right in the heart of Edinburgh are 120 miles of underground shelves that store the National Library of Scotland's collection of 24 million items. Graeme Hawley — performance poet, slam winner, and General Collections Manager at the Library — presents this slideshow and found poem, comprised entirely of book spines. Amusing, thought provoking, and unexpectedly moving.

22-26 August
Free. Book 'The joy of spines' through Edinburgh Fringe, phone their booking line on 0131 226 0000 (June-August only), or purchase at the Fringe Box Office, 160 High Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1QS.

September events

See also: Workshops and tours

Scotland and slavery: Old myths and new realities

Photograph of Professor Sir Tom Devine

Recent research has transformed understanding of the Scottish role in the transatlantic slave trade and its impact ‎on Scotland. This lecture by Professor Sir Tom Devine describes what we now know about the subject, and suggest some explanations as to why this darker aspect of the nation's history has been ignored for so long.

Tuesday 6 September
This event is now fully booked.

'Embed with games'

Front cover of 'Embed with games' by Cara Ellison

In 2014, computer games critic Cara Ellison pledged to travel the globe to live with and write about some of the world's most interesting game developers. Ellison originally blogged about her travels, writing about the way game creators express the culture around them. With Andrew Dyce of We Throw Switches, Ellison discusses her book, 'Embed with games'.

Monday 12 September
Free. Book 'Embed with games' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.

The 2016 American presidential election: Precedents and reflections

Illustration of an American eagle with flags

Historian Frank Cogliano discusses the extraordinary 2016 United States presidential campaign, with insights into American politics, past and present. Cogliano is Professor of American History and Dean International of North America at the University of Edinburgh. Specialising in the political, cultural and diplomatic history of revolutionary and early national America, he is the author of 'Emperor of liberty: Thomas Jefferson's foreign policy'.

Tuesday 20 September
This event is now fully booked.

World Alzheimer's Day event: When someone you know has dementia

Photograph of Professor June Andrews

Dementia will affect more people in the years to come as our population ages. With no known cure on the horizon, what is the best that can be done to help people with dementia and those who care for them? On World Alzheimer's Day, find out more with international dementia expert Professor June Andrews.

Wednesday 21 September
Free. Book the World Alzheimer's Day event on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.

Economic rationality, Scottish nationality

Photograph of Professor Chris Harvie

Was industrialising Scotland a pushover for laissez-faire? Professor Christopher Harvie argues that 'the market' struggled when faced with Calvinism, 'authoritarian families', imperial patronage, statistical science, 'great working academies' and almost continuous war. Looking back from the shambles of 2007-8, the Mills, their friends Carlyle and Edwin Chadwick, enforcers of engineering logic and Benthamite 'consistency and ferocity', must be granted a replay.

Thursday 22 September
Free. Book 'Economic rationality, Scottish nationality' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.

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
Free. Book 'Secret lochs and special places' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.

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

Detail from the Naturalist's map of Scotland

Curator Paula Williams (Map, Mountaineering and Polar Collections) 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
Free. Book 'You are here' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.

This event is now fully booked.

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