Transcript of collection highlights video

Transcript of former Director of Collections and Research Cate Newton's filmed talk about highlights from the collections at the National Library of Scotland. 

I'm going to be talking about a variety of subjects which reflect just some of the many, many topics that our collections cover.

Well, for the item representing the historical thread, I've chosen one of the Library's most iconic and important treasures, and this is the Order for the massacre of Glencoe - one of the most significant and well-known episodes in Scottish history.

The order says that the MacDonalds are to be cut out root and branch, that every member of the clan below the age of 70 is to be put to the sword, and it says that later on reinforcements are going to be brought in at 5 o'clock, but, if they don't turn up on time, to just continue with the massacre.

What I've chosen for the science and technology theme is a volume of photographs, and these are photographs of the Forth Bridge under construction. They are really beautiful photographs and also an incredibly interesting record of the process of constructing the bridge.

This is a very rare manuscript. It's the manuscript of Robert Burns's song 'The Battle of Sherramuir', and this is about two shepherds who are talking about the Battle of Sherramuir, a rather inconclusive battle. They can't make their minds up who actually won the battle, and of course it's amazing to see this in Robert Burns's own hand. We were extremely pleased to be able to acquire this manuscript, which had been in a private collection, in 2009, which was the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns's birth.

These beautiful artworks are from the graphic novel version of Stevenson's 'Kidnapped', one of Scotland's best known novels, of course. This version was created in 2007 as part of the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature project. The graphic novel was produced by Cam Kennedy, who is an internationally known graphic artist, and Alan Grant wrote the words for this version. The artwork is beautiful and I think this is a fantastic illustration of bringing a version of a very well-known work into a new version for today's readers.

I've chosen an item from the David Livingstone material in the John Murray Archive. David Livingstone, of course - Scotland's very famous explorer. And he was a very visual person, as this particular item shows. This is a drawing that he did of a fish he found in Lake Nyassa and as you see it's very detailed. But what this sheet also shows is the way in which he was extremely keen to use every scrap of paper available to him to record what he was seeing. The writing here is actually nothing to do with the fish, but he's managed to fit in all around the drawing an account of what was happening at the moment. And that particular moment he was trapped in his tent because of heavy rains, and you can actually see raindrops on this manuscript.

I've chosen something from our collections which is actually on the Library's website. The National Library of Scotland sponsors the Donald Dewar Memorial Lecture every year at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. This one's particularly poignant because the lecture was given by the late, lamented Robin Cook, and he spoke very interestingly and very pointedly about the reasons for his resignation that year, but it is also quite amusing.

The collections, of course, are immensely rich and varied. I've tried to select things that are not only in print but in different formats - sound, photographs, manuscript and so on. And I've also tried to select items each of which has its own story to tell.

I think for somebody coming new to the Library the thing I would say to them is there is certainly something here to interest you, so you tell us what you're interested in. There will be something in the Library for you.

 

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