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Events | exhibitions


Glamis copy of Aberdeen Breviary — a significant addition

Aberdeen Breviary coversAberdeen Breviary page
The Glamis copy of the Aberdeen Breviary. Comparing
differences between copies at NLS sheds light on Scotland's
first experience with printing.

Two of the first works to be printed in Scotland have gone online today after being bought for the nation.

The Aberdeen Breviary and a unique small book called 'Compassio Beate Marie' give public access to an essential piece of Scottish history.

Printed in 1509-1510, 'Breviarium Aberdonense' was commissioned by the Bishop of Aberdeen to provide services and readings in Latin for use in Scottish churches. The Breviary was the reason that James IV granted a printing licence to Edinburgh-based Chepman and Myllar, Scotland's first printing house.

Only four complete sets of this two-volume work survive. Two sets are now at the National Library of Scotland and available via the NLS website.

The newly digitised copy is considered to be the best surviving example of the Aberdeen Breviary. For many years it has been at Glamis Castle in the Earl of Strathmore's ownership. 

Because each of the three copies is different, comparing them furthers our understanding of how Scotland's first books were printed.

The 16-page 'Compassio Beate Marie'  was printed between 1510 and 1532 and is the only surviving evidence that printing was carried out in Scotland during this period. It contains orders of service and readings in Latin about the arrival in Scotland of the relics of St Andrew. The 'Compassio' is included as part of the Breviary volume entitled 'Pars Hyemalis'.

Read more in the Aberdeen Breviary media release.


24 September 2014


New National Librarian in post


Today Dr John Scally takes the helm at the National Library of Scotland as he moves into the role of Chief Executive and National Librarian.

'This is my first day in the best job in Scotland,' Dr Scally said.

'To be given the chance to lead the National Library at such an important time is both thrilling and daunting in equal measure. I look forward to taking the Library from strength to strength over the next decade.'

A leading professional

Regarded as one of the leading library professionals in Europe, Dr Scally is no stranger to the National Library. He was a curator in the British Antiquarian (later Rare Books) Division at NLS for 10 years until 2003.

Since then, at the University of Edinburgh he has been Director of University Collections, Deputy Director of Library, Museums and Galleries, and, most recently, Director of Library and University Collections.

Announcing the appointment in June, James Boyle, who chairs the NLS Board, spoke warmly of the 'vision, great experience and enthusiasm' that the new National Librarian brings to his role.

22 September 2014


'Waverley' — the making of a global blockbuster

Bound volume of the 'Waverley' manuscirpt

Two hundred years ago, an anonymously published novel sold out within two days and went on to become a global bestseller.

Full of drama and adventure, 'Waverley' told the story of the 1745 Jacobite Rising in a style that was completely new and that captured readers' imagination. It is widely regarded as the first modern historical novel. Within months, this ground-breaking book was being printed in its fourth edition.

Portrait of Walter Scott and a dog

Sir Walter Scott eventually confirmed that he was the author, after years of enjoying the intrigue that had surrounding the book's authorship.

Scott's original manuscript for the novel is at the heart of a display at the National Library of Scotland. The display uses books and manuscripts to explore what lay behind this literary landmark, how it was published and what people thought of it.

'Sir Walter Scott's Waverley: Voices from the archive' is free and open daily until 16 November.

Read more in our Waverley display media release.


10 September 2014


Wikipedia work earns award for NLS

Jimmy Wales presents Wikimedia award
Jimmy Wales presented the
award to Gill Hamilton.

Scotland's first knowledge-sharing residency with the Wikimedia Foundation has resulted in an award for the National Library of Scotland.

NLS received the award for work resulting from the Library's appointment of a Wikimedian-in-Residence in 2013.

Under the guidance of Wikimedian Ally Crockford, NLS is opening up its collections for all to use freely via Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia that is the fifth most-visited website in the world. Ally has also expanded the Wikimedia community in Scotland, and has raised awareness generally of the concept of open and free access to knowledge.

At Wikimedia's annual conference in the Barbican Centre in London, NLS Digital Access Manager Gill Hamilton collected the Library's 'GLAM of the Year' award from Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales.

GLAM — 'Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums' — is a Wikipedia initiative that allows the encyclopaedia's community of editors to help cultural organisations maximise the public impact of their collections.

Read more in our Wikipedia award media release.

15 August 2014

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