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Events | exhibitions


Important Stevenson letters added to Library's collections

Two sheets of handwritten letter
Fanny Stevenson's letter.

Fanny Stevenson's signature on a letter
Fanny's signature.

A heart-rending letter describing the final hours of Robert Louis Stevenson has been acquired by the National Library of Scotland.

In the letter to a friend the day after his death, the novelist's widow, Fanny Stevenson, says that her husband died as he had lived.

'His life had been one long romance and he hoped to have a romantic end; the artist in him demanded that completeness,' she wrote on 3 December 1894.

Stevenson died suddenly from a suspected brain haemorrhage at the couple's home in Samoa at the age of only 44.

In her letter, Fanny also describes the devotion of native Samoans who cut a path through the bush to fulfil Stevenson's wish that he be buried at the summit of Mount Vaea.

The letter is one of a number that the National Library bought at auction. Included in the purchase were an unfinished essay, telegrams, photographs and newspaper cuttings. They add to the Library's existing rich collection of Stevenson material.

Read more in our Robert Louis Stevenson media release.

2 December 2016


Website offers 'windaes' into Scots language

Cover of 'Buke of the Howlat'
'The Buke of
the Howlat'.
Hamish McDonald
Hamish McDonald.

Published today is a website celebrating the Scots language and looking at how Scots has been used down the centuries.

'Wee Windaes' draws on the National Library of Scotland's rich collections to showcase examples of Scots language from the 15th century to the present.

Scots Scriever Hamish MacDonald produced the site in collaboration with Library staff, aiming to raise awareness of the richness and depth of the Scots language.

The starting point for the site is the 'The Buke of the Howlat', a performance poem from the 1440s, while the end point will have literary examples from the modern day.

Launching the website at the Library, Cabinet Secretary for Education John Swinney described Scots as 'an essential element of our nation's culture and heritage'.

See also our Wee Windaes media release

1 December 2016


Focus on Scots photographic pioneers

The Scott Monument under construction
The Scott Monument under construction,
from 'Sun pictures in Scotland', 1845.

The story of the early days of photography in Scotland is told in the National Library's winter treasures display.

A star attraction is William Henry Fox Talbot's 'Sun pictures in Scotland' from 1845 — one of the first books in the world to be illustrated with photographs.

'"Sun pictures" and beyond: Scotland and the photographically illustrated book, 1845-1900 highlights Scotland's leading role in the early development of photography.

It features a range of photographically-illustrated books from some of the pioneers of photography in Scotland, including:

  • George Washington Wilson
  • James Valentine
  • Thomas Annan
  • William Notman
  • John Thomson.

Globally successful businesses were founded on the booming market that developed in photographs as souvenirs for tourists. Wilson and Valentine, for instance, produced albums of prints of Scottish scenery, while Valentine of Dundee became internationally famous for producing picture postcards.

'"Sun pictures" and beyond' is on at the Library from 30 November 2016 until 26 March 2017.

Read more in the 'Sun pictures' display media release

29 November 2016


Amazing restoration of antique map

A conservator unrolls a very tattered map
The chimney map before restoration.

Detail of the map during restoration
Detail of the map during restoration.

Once it would have been the cherished possession of a wealthy family but somehow a 17th-century map came to be stuck up an Aberdeen house chimney.

This rare wall map was in a dreadful state by the time it was rescued and gifted to the National Library. Substantial sections of the paper had disintegrated after being attacked by vermin and insects.

Work in trying to save the map has been one of the most complicated projects the Library's conservation staff have ever worked on.

Through applying a series of complex treatments they have managed to repair damage and completely clean the map to make it something that can be studied and enjoyed for years to come.

The story of this amazing restoration is told in two videos available on YouTube ('The chimney map' and 'Unravelling the chimney map') and in the Library's 'Discover' magazine, issue 33.

See our chimney map media release

28 November 2016


First Minister opens Library's new home at Kelvin Hall

Nicola Sturgeon, Frank McAveety and Ruth Washbrook at Kelvin Hall
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (centre),
Glasgow City Council leader
Frank McAveety, and Ruth Washbrook,
Head of Moving Image
and Sound Collections.

The National Library's new home at Kelvin Hall in Glasgow was officially opened today by Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Ms Sturgeon spent some time browsing through the thousands of historic films that can be seen in the Library's Moving Image Archive and was also shown the extensive digital resources that visitors can access for research, learning and enjoyment.

The First Minister praised the redevelopment of Kelvin Hall following a £35 million refurbishment which has created a cultural, academic and sporting complex of international significance. It is a unique collaboration between Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Life, the University of Glasgow and the National Library of Scotland.

National Librarian Dr John Scally said Kelvin Hall was a library for the 21st century which uses today's technology, including easy-to-use touch screens, to give people access to a vast electronic library of information.

'Kelvin Hall has been reborn and we are delighted to be an important part of this exciting new development,' said Dr Scally. 'The National Library at Kelvin Hall offers access to the riches held within our collection to people in the west of Scotland for the first time.'

11 November 2016


University collaboration will benefit researchers and public

Research and teaching are central to a strengthened relationship between the National Library of Scotland and the University of Edinburgh.

On 1 November, both organisations will formally sign a Memorandum of Understanding outlining a three-year framework for collaboration and partnership.

Formalising the collaborative relationship that already exists, the document details themes for partnership working that include research and teaching and enhanced access to resources.

Beneficiaries of future collaborative work will include researchers and wider public communities across Scotland, as well as the Library and the University.

Data sharing to support student projects is one of the outputs expected from the framework.

See the Memorandum of Understanding (PDF) (237 KB; 4 pages). 

See our University of Edinburgh collaboration media release.

27 October 2016


An Comunn Gàidhealach materials digitised

A selection of An Comunn Gàidhealach items
A selection of An Comunn Gàidhealach
items from the Library's collections.

The National Library of Scotland has digitised items published by An Comunn Gàidhealach — The Highland Association.

Available online at An Comunn Gàidhealach, the newly digitised material includes:

  • Royal National Mòd published literature
  • Mòd programmes and magazines
  • Mòd spoken word set pieces
  • An Comunn Gàidhealach journals and a range of their educational and other publications.

People can explore An Comunn's publications and thus learn about the development of the Royal National Mòd and other An Comunn activities. For example, searching Mòd programmes reveals names of past competitors and events.

Founded in 1891, An Comunn Gàidhealach supports the teaching, learning and use of the Gaelic language. An Comunn promotes the study and cultivation of Gaelic literature, history, music and art. The association also organises and runs the Royal National Mòd, Scotland's most famous Gaelic festival.

This digitisation continues the Library's commitment to Gaelic, which includes: 

See our An Comunn Gàidhealach press release.

16 October 2016


Board reappointments announced

Three Board members have been reappointed to the Board of the National Library of Scotland.

Fiona Hyslop — the Scottish Government's Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs — announced the reappointments.

Reappointed to the Board for a further four-year term from 1 February 2017 are:

Read more:

12 October 2016


Gaelic speaker sought for important role

Uicipeid: Gaelic Wikipedia logo

An exciting opportunity is on offer for a Gaelic speaker to work with the National Library of Scotland and one of the world's most popular websites.

The Library and Wikimedia UK are looking to recruit an individual to work with Gaelic groups across Scotland to develop Uicipeid, the Gaelic Wikipedia. This initiative is being funded by Bòrd na Gàidhlig and will promote the key role played by Gaelic in Scottish history and culture.

The role of Gaelic Wikipedian involves designing, managing, and delivering a programme of activities in Scottish Gaelic to help Gaelic speakers learn how to edit Uicipeid and create new or improve existing Wikipedia articles.

'This is a unique opportunity for someone who has a real commitment to the Gaelic language,' said Gill Hamilton, the Library's Digital Access Manager.

Applications are sought from outgoing and committed individuals with fluency in Scottish Gaelic and excellent training, presentation and organisation skills. The role is part time and for a fixed term of 12 months.

For more information and details of how to apply, see our press release


Obair air tòiseachadh gus dreuchd Ghàidhlig a lìonadh

Tha cothrom obrach sònraichte air èirigh airson cuideigin le Gàidhlig a bhios ag obair leis an Leabharlann Nàiseanta agus le tè de na làraichean-lìn as mòr-chòrdte san t-saoghal.

Tha an Leabharlann agus Wikimedia UK airson cuideigin fhastadh gus obrachadh le buidhnean Gàidhlig air feadh na h-Alba gus Uicipeid, Wikipedia na Gàidhlig a leasachadh. Tha Bòrd na Gàidhlig air maoineachadh a thoirt dhan iomairt seo, a bhrosnaicheas a' phrìomh àite a th' aig a' Ghàidhlig ann an eachdraidh is cultar na Gàidhlig.

Tha obair Uicipeidiche na Gàidhlig a' gabhail a-steach a bhith a' dealbhadh, a' stiùiridh agus a' lìbhrigidh prògram de ghnìomhan tro mheadhan na Gàidhlig do luchd-labhairt na Gàidhlig gus an cuideachadh gus ionnsachadh mar a dheasaicheas iad Uicipeid agus mar a chruthaicheas no mar a leasaicheas iad artaigealan Uicipeid.

'Tha seo na chothrom air leth do chuideigin aig a bheil fìor dhealas a thaobh na Gàidhlig,' thuirt Gill Hamilton, Manaidsear Ruigsinneachd Dhigiteach aig an Leabharlann.

Thathar a' sireadh iarrtasan bho dhaoine a tha brosnachail is dealasach a tha fileanta ann an Gàidhlig na h-Alba agus aig a bheil fìor dheagh sgilean trèanaidh, taisbeanaidh agus co-òrdanachaidh. Tha an obair pàirt-ùine airson ùine shuidhichte de 12 mìosan.

Airson barrachd fiosrachaidh mun obair agus mu bhith a' dèanamh iarrtas, faic am fios naidheachd againn

11 October 2016

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Past news stories since September 2002 are available in our news archive.

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