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Events | exhibitions


Sir Kenneth Calman appointed as Chair for the Library

Photograph of Sir Kenneth Calman
Sir Kenneth Calman.

A new Chair has been selected to lead the governing Board of the National Library of Scotland.

Sir Kenneth Calman, who has held many leading posts in education and medicine, has been appointed by Scotland's Culture Secretary, Fiona Hyslop. He takes up his appointment on 1 October.

Sir Kenneth served as Chief Medical Officer in both Scotland and England in the 1990s. He is a former Chair of the National Trust for Scotland and is currently Chancellor of the University of Glasgow.

He succeeds James Boyle, a former Controller of BBC Radio 4, who is stepping down as Chair of the Board after successfully leading the organisation for four years.

See also our Library Chair press release.

27 July 2016


Historic maps on show in 'You are Here' exhibition

A map of Edinburgh showing George IV Bridge
Edinburgh city centre, around 1780.
From John Ainslie's 'Designs
for Edinburgh's New Town'.

A fascinating journey through the wonderful world of maps is on offer in the National Library of Scotland's new exhibition, 'You are Here: A journey through maps'.

Featuring some of the most important and beautiful maps in the Library's world-class collection, the exhibition sets out to challenge our acceptance of maps. It poses questions about how maps are made and how we understand them.

'You are Here' starts with maps of Edinburgh then zooms out to Scotland, the UK, Europe and the world.

Maps featured in the exhibition include:

  • The first printed map of Scotland
  • One of the finest plans of Edinburgh
  • Maps from the 'Blaeu Atlas Maior', said to be 'the most beautiful atlas ever'
  • Railway, fishing and schoolroom maps.

The exhibition also has a number of fun activities for visitors, such as identifying locations and calculating distances based on the scales used in maps.

Millions of people use maps every day, and 'You are Here' provides essential information to get the most out of cartography.

See also our maps exhibition press release

21 July 2016


Douglas Haig's diary added to UNESCO international register

Douglas Haig at his desk
Douglas Haig in his office on a train
during the First World War.
View larger image

The National Library of Scotland has become the first Scottish heritage organisation to be awarded a much-sought-after international accolade.

Field Marshal Douglas Haig's war diary, from the Library's collection of the Haig papers, has been added to the international register of the UNESCO Memory of the World programme.

This register recognises documentary heritage of global significance, and features only a select group of organisations.

Haig's handwritten diary provides a unique insight into the conduct of the First World War. Haig was Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force, and commanded the largest British Army ever assembled. He wrote a daily entry throughout the conflict, recording key events at battles such as the Somme and Passchendaele.

UNESCO has added other new additions to the international register, including Winston Churchill's papers, the archives of mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary and biologist Louis Pasteur, and the world's first ever sound recordings.

A number of items from the Library's collections already appear on the UK Memory of the World register. Haig's diary was added there in 2013.

Read more in our UNESCO register press release


See also:

21 June 2016


Ghost story competition opens for entries

Ghost story competition logo: Scared person holding a pen

A ghost story competition has launched which is inspired by a challenge laid down by Lord Byron 200 years ago.

In the Villa Diodati close to Lake Geneva in June 1816, Byron dared his travelling companions to write a ghost story. The result was a literary sensation — the birth of Frankenstein and the blood sucking vampire.

Commemorating this feat of imagination, the National Library of Scotland and the Scottish Storytelling Centre now invite writers of all ages to produce their own ghost story.

The competition is inspired by two of the greatest creations in Gothic literature which grew out of that night in Switzerland — Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein' and John Polidori's 'The vampyre'.

Stories should be written to be heard, rather than read. Professional storytellers will perform the six winning entries before an audience at the National Library on Halloween as part of the Scottish International Storytelling Festival.

The closing date for entries is 5 September. Full details are on the Scottish Storytelling Centre website.


See also our competition press release

16 June 2016


Robert Adam architecture display opens

Robert Adam's design for Register House
Register House on Princes Street,
Edinburgh, designed by Robert Adam.

Scottish architect Robert Adam (1728-1792) is celebrated in a new treasures display at the National Library of Scotland.

'The beautiful spirit of antiquity: Robert Adam and his influences' showcases the work and impact of one of Scotland's most famous architects. Adam designed some of Scotland's most iconic buildings, including Register House on Edinburgh's Princes Street.

A selection of the Library's finest architectural books shows how classical design and Enlightenment ideas influenced Robert Adam and the future of architecture. The display includes:

  • Vitruvius's 'De architectura' (1511): The first illustrated edition of the only architectural text to have survived from ancient Rome
  • 'The works in architecture of Robert and James Adam' (1778): The book which established the neo-classical 'Adam style'
  • 'A book of ceilings' (1776) by George Richardson: Designs by a previous employee of the Adams, influenced by their style.

See also our Robert Adam display press release.

15 June 2016

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