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.

June events | July events | August events | September events

List updated: 23 June.

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


June events

See also: Workshops and tours

Sparkiving: Loitering with intent to catalogue

Photograph of items in the Muriel Spark archive

With the recent acquisition of the final instalment of the Dame Muriel Spark archive, the Library holds one of the broadest records of a writer's life ever assembled. Muriel Spark Project Curator Dr Colin McIlroy journeys through newly discovered highlights of the collection, as we learn more about the fascinating life of one of Scotland's literary greats.

Thursday 23 June
18.00
This event is now fully booked.


The Isabel Dalhousie lecture

The 1816 Philadelphia 'Emma' and its readers

Photograph of Juliette Wells

Professor Juliette Wells — 2016 Isabel Dalhousie Fellow — talks about the rare 1816 Philadelphia edition of Jane Austen's 'Emma'. This edition was the only version published in America during Austen's lifetime, and only six known copies still exist.

The Isabel Dalhousie Fellowship is named after the main character of Alexander McCall Smith's 'Sunday Philosophy Club' series. In association with the University of Edinburgh's Institure for Advanced Studies in Humanities(IASH).

Wednesday 29 June
18.00
Free. Book the Isabel Dalhousie lecture on Eventbrite


The joy of spines — spoken word

Photograph of a book spine

A Fringe show preview

Right in the heart of Edinburgh are 120 miles of underground shelves that store the Library'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.

Thursday 30 June
14.00
This event is now fully booked.


July events

See also: Workshops and tours

In the footsteps of sheep

Book cover of 'In the footsteps of sheep'

'What better medium to tell the tales of journeys than socks.'

One summer, Debbie Zawinski took her spinning, her knitting and her tent, and set off around Scotland in search of a unique pair of Scottish socks. In words, pictures and socks, her book 'In the footsteps of sheep' tells of her adventures: discovering rare sheep, remote communities and Scotland's wildest places.

Tuesday 5 July
14.00
Free. Book 'In the footsteps of sheep' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.


Scott's last expedition: The men who came back

Illustration of Scott's polar expedition

The 1910-1914 British Antarctic Expedition is best remembered for its failure to reach the South Pole and for Captain Scott's own heroic end. But it was not all a tragedy. Using their own published diaries and writings, Library Curator Paula Williams (Map, Mountaineering and Polar Collections) examines the amazing adventures of the men who came back.

Wednesday 6 July
14.00
Free. Book 'Scott's last expedition' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.


Robert Louis Stevenson on Samoa

Photograph of Robert Louis Stevenson

Library Curator Andrew Martin (Literature and the Arts) recounts Robert Louis Stevenson's final years on the Pacific island of Samoa. The most famous Scottish expatriate writer in the South Seas, Stevenson lived the colourful life of a rural laird and celebrity on his plantation, Vailima. He was accompanied by two remarkable women — his wife, Fanny, and his widowed mother, Margaret Balfour.

Thursday 14 July
14.00
Free. Book 'Robert Louis Stevenson on Samoa' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.


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
14.00
Free. Book 'Scottish women of Science' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.


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
14.00
Free. Book the 'In the interests of the nation' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.


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
14.00

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
14.00
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
18.00
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
18.00
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
18.00
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
18.00
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
18.00
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
18.00
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
14.00
Free. Book 'You are here' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.


See also:



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