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Events | exhibitions


Poetry pamphlet competition winner announced

Lady Marks and Jenny Elliott with the award
Lady Marks and Jenny Elliott
at the awards ceremony.

The Shed Press has won the National Library of Scotland 2016 Callum Macdonald Memorial Award

The winning poetry pamphlet was The Shed Press's 'Makkin-wires', written and published by Jenny Elliott.

Second place was awarded to Lancaster's Wayleave Press, for 'Clay' by Elizabeth Burns.

Established in 2001 in memory of Callum Macdonald, the award recognises the publication of poetry pamphlets. It is funded by the Michael Marks Charitable Trust, and the 2016 award was presented by Lady Marks.

First prize is £800, and second prize is £400. The author of the winning pamphlet is also eligible for a two-week residency in Greece in July as the Michael Marks Poet in Residence at Harvard University's Center for Hellenic Studies.

Read more in our award press release.

13 May 2016


Historic art book on display at the Library

Portrait of Mary Queen of Scots
A portrait of Mary Queen of
Scots, by Juan de Courbes

On 27 April, visitors to the National Library of Scotland can see the first ever art book to be illustrated with photographs.

Published in 1848, William Stirling's 'Annals of the artists of Spain' contains the first published photographs of Spanish artworks: El Greco, Velázquez, Murillo and Goya. Including images of paintings, drawings, sculptures and prints, the book helped Spanish art become well-known around the world.

Only 50 copies were produced, and the Library's is one of only 25 with extra plates. The additional photographs were taken by an assistant of William Henry Fox Talbot — the founder of modern photography.

Conservation work

Visitors can also see a film of the book being restored:

  • Cleaning the pages
  • Repairing tears
  • Repairing spine damage.

The Library's Conservation team carried out careful restoration work on the volume, before it will be loaned to Madrid's Museo del Prado for an exhibition in May. Watch the conservation video on YouTube

'Annals of the artists of Spain' will be on display in the Library's boardroom from 12.00 until 14.00 on Wednesday 27 April, along with the short film showing the conservation work.

Read more in our 'Annals of the artists of Spain' press release

26 April 2016


Special viewing: Shakespeare's First Folio

A Library curator holding the Library's First Folio
Helen Vincent, Manager of Rare
Books and Music Collections,
holding the First Folio.

William Shakespeare's First Folio will be on public display at the National Library of Scotland on Friday 22 April.

To mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, the First Folio will be on show in a special two-hour display. Visitors can see the book from 12.00 until 14.00 in the Library's boardroom.

Published in 1623, just seven years after the author's death, the folio contains 36 of Shakespeare's plays. One of the most important books in world literature, there are now only around 230 known copies in existence.

Many of the playwright's most famous plays may owe their existence to the First Folio, as they may have been lost without publication. It is thought that no more than 750 copies were printed.

Read more in our First Folio press release and the Library's blog

20 April 2016


Library becomes founding member of image consortium

John Scally signing the IIIF-C
National Librarian John Scally
signing the IIIF-C papers.

The National Library of Scotland has joined the International Image Interoperability Framework Consortium (IIIF-C) as a founding member.

As part of a select group of world-leading institutions, the Library will influence and develop a suite of services for access to and use of high quality digital images. Other IIIF-C partner institutions include:

  • Stanford University Libraries
  • Bodleian Libraries at University of Oxford
  • The Wellcome Trust
  • The British Library.

The framework puts forward a new set of standards and technologies for accessing and presenting images. Currently in development, this will bring together images from many rich collections, and presents features such as:

  • High quality zoom
  • Annotation
  • Image manipulation tools.

Read more in our IIIF-C press release

13 April 2016


New Chair sought for the Board of the National Library

James Boyle, Chair of the Library's Board
James Boyle, current Chair
of the Library's Board.

The Scottish Government is looking for a new Chair of the Board of the National Library of Scotland.

The individual will chair the Board for a four-year term, and play a leading role in developing one of Scotland's premier cultural organisations.

James Boyle, the Library's current Chair, stands down in October 2016 after completing a full term.

See our Chair of the Board page for more information.


1 April 2016


New posters celebrate 150 years of printing

Posters on display at the Library

A new mini display at the National Library of Scotland commemorates 150 years of Robert Smail's Printing Works.

'Future/Past: Ink differently' showcases a limited edition series of posters by graphic design students from Edinburgh Napier University.

Using the 1886 Wharfedale Reliance printing press, the students applied their modern design skills to the classic methods of letterpress printing.

Robert Smail's Printing Works was in commercial operation until 1986, when it was purchased by the National Trust for Scotland. The machinery is kept in working order, and is still used today.

The posters are on display in the foyer of the National Library of Scotland, George IV Bridge, from 1 April until 2 May 2016.




1 April 2016


Shortlist announced for poetry pamphlet award

Cover of the 2015 winning pamphlet
The 2015 winner was
Mariscat Press.

Six publishers have been shortlisted for the annual pamphlet poetry prize at the National Library of Scotland.

The Callum Macdonald Memorial Award recognises outstanding examples of pamphlet poetry publishing with a connection to Scotland or Scottish culture.

This year's shortlist is:

  • Arc Publications for 'Smithereens' by Tariq Latif
  • Happenstance Press for 'Only By Flying' by Helen Evans
  • Hestan Isle Press for 'Journey' by John Horn
  • The Shed Press for 'Makkin-wires' by Jenny Elliott
  • Tapsalteerie for 'Nae Flooers' by Ann MacKinnon
  • Wayleave Press for 'Clay' by Elizabeth Burns.

The winner of the 2016 award will be announced at a ceremony in the Library on 12 May.

31 March 2016


Sir Walter Scott exhibition opens at Abbotsford

Book spines of literature reviewed by Walter Scott
Books reviewed by Sir Walter Scott,
including 'Frankenstein' and 'Emma'.

A new exhibition — 'Rave reviewer: Scott on "Frankenstein", "Emma" and "Childe Harold"' — opens on 2 April at Abbotsford, home of Sir Walter Scott in the Scottish Borders.

Alongside materials from Abbotsford, the exhibition includes items from the John Murray Archive at the National Library of Scotland.

'Rave reviewer' focuses on Scott's remarkable career as an anonymous reviewer of many of the most important literary works of his lifetime, including:

  • Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein'
  • Jane Austen's 'Emma'
  • Lord Byron's 'Childe Harold's pilgrimage'
  • And even reviews of Scott's own anonymous novels.

Stories of Scott's reviews are told through his own books and a selection of little or never-before-seen manuscripts.


Visit the exhibition

A joint Abbotsford and National Library exhibition, 'Rave reviewer' runs from 2 April until 30 November 2016 at Abbotsford. An exhibition catalogue is available at both locations.

Related talks and events include 'Rave reviewer' at the Library in Edinburgh, and further talks in Edinburgh and the Scottish Borders. For more details contact David McClay, Manuscripts Curator at the Library.


Read more in our 'Rave reviewer' press release

31 March 2016


Sweetheart Breviary on display

Hands holding open the Sweetheart Breviary

The Sweetheart Breviary closed

The Sweetheart Breviary will be on public display at the National Library of Scotland for the first time on Friday.

In a special two-hour showing on 1 April, the 700-year-old manuscript will be on show from 12.00 until 14.00 in the Library's boardroom.

An extremely rare example of a Scottish medieval religious manuscript, the Breviary is in remarkably good condition. Possibly written at Sweetheart Abbey, the manuscript contains many of the monastic prayers which would have been used there.

Acquired by the Library last month, the manuscript was feared lost for 300 years until it reappeared at auction in Vienna.


Read more in our Breviary display press release



30 March 2016


National Library offers PhD opportunity

Applications are open for a unique PhD opportunity at the National Library of Scotland and Scotland's Sounds, in conjunction with Heriot-Watt University.

Starting in October 2016, the studentship is a full-time, three-year position with an additional six-month work placement at the Library.


The research

The project is entitled: 'Collecting and preserving access to Intangible Cultural Heritage within the digital environment: evaluating new models for Scotland'.

One successful candidate will research and analyse key relationships between individuals and communities creating and living cultural expression, and the institutions and organisations that collect, preserve and make recordings of Intangible Cultural Heritage accessible.

These relationships are especially relevant in a digital environment which offers both opportunities and challenges to ensuring preserved access to evidence of cultural practice for future generations.


How to apply

The closing date for applications is 29 April 2016.

Further information, eligibility and how to apply (PDF) (5 pages; 50KB).

29 March 2016

 News archive

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

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