Exhibition on 400 years of news

More Scots READ ALL ABOUT IT! as revealed in new exhibition

The Scots are some of the most avid readers of newspapers in the world devouring more than twice the column inches than their counterparts south of the border. A new exhibition chronicling a selection of the millions of stories from Scottish newspapers over the last 400 years opens in Edinburgh this summer.

'READ ALL ABOUT IT!' at the National Library of Scotland from 5 June until 31 October tells the history of the news in this country. The exhibition charts the development of news production from the first single-page news-sheet through to newspapers of the 18th and 19th centuries to the present-day and the latest online news.

The National Library has some 30 kilometres of shelving housing newspapers. Each year the Library collects almost 50,000 new copies and the exhibition draws examples from this collection in categories ranging from celebrity, humour, sex and violence, tragedy and disaster to sport.

Six times more Scots read regional dailies compared with their counterparts elsewhere in the United Kingdom and almost two and a half million Scottish-produced newspapers are bought every week in Scotland including the dailies, the Sundays and the regional newspapers.

It is thought that the first published newspaper in Scotland was detail of a political debate in 1641 but it was in the early 18th century that newspapers became more established. The 'Caledonian Mercury', 'Edinburgh Evening Courant', the 'Glasgow Advertiser' and 'Aberdeen Journal' were among the best-known titles. In the early 19th century publication of papers took off with 'The Inverness Courier' in 1817, 'Perthshire Advertiser' in 1828, 'Stirling Observer' in 1836, 'Falkirk Herald' in 1845 and 'Southern Reporter' in 1855 all celebrating their first editions.

Martyn Wade, the National Librarian said: 'Newspapers are the heartbeat of the nation and chronicle every facet of life in Scotland. This exhibition will give people a flavour of the fascinating, interesting, puzzling and often bizarre stories that have interested readers over the centuries. People in Scotland have a huge appetite for reading newspapers — 'READ ALL ABOUT IT!' tries to explain why this is the case.'

Exhibition items on display include a painting of the Tay Bridge prior to the disaster of 1879; a miner's lamp and remembrance token from Scottish Mining Museum; a wooden printing press (late 18th century); a dinner menu signed by the Scotland and England players at Hampden Park in 1937 when Scotland won 3-1; Eric Liddell's 400m athletics Gold Medal from the Paris Olympics in 1924; and printing furniture from Robert Smail's Printing Works at Innerleithen.

Visitors will be able to win prizes by writing headlines for historical stories, take part in printing workshops, see unique vintage documentary footage of newspaper production; and listen to an audio exhibition of the characteristic shouts of the newspaper sellers in towns and cities across the country.

'READ ALL ABOUT IT!' opens on Saturday 5 June and runs until Sunday 31 October 2004. Opening hours are: Monday-Friday 10.00-17.00 (Festival 10.00-20.00); Saturday 10.00-17.00; Sunday 14.00-17.00.

For more information, please contact Alda Forbes on 0131-622 4821, mobile 07990 683 540/ email a.forbes@nls.uk or Helen Loughlin on 0131-622 4822.

Media Opportunity

10.00 on Thursday 3 June at the National Library of Scotland, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh. Photo /filming opportunity with Murdo MacLeod — former Celtic, Hibs, Partick Thistle and Borussia Dortmund player who holds 22 caps for Scotland, and now BBC pundit — surrounded by tons of newspapers, a sample of the millions available at the Library.
Also opportunities to photograph/film exhibits and displays.
Interviews are available with Murdo MacLeod and Curators Eoin Shalloo and Helen Vincent who organised the exhibition.

Notes to Editors
  • Murdo MacLeod began his playing career at Dumbarton in 1974 and four years later got a dream move to Celtic where he won five league titles, two League Cups and two Scottish Cups in nine years. He joined Borussia Dortmund but returned home in 1990 to join Hibs, helping them lift the League Cup a year later before becoming player boss at Dumbarton then Partick Thistle. He was No.2 to Wim Jansen when Celtic halted Rangers' 10-in-a-row charge and is now also a pundit with BBC Scotland. He has 22 Scotland caps.
  • The National Library of Scotland is Scotland's largest library, serving both as a general research library and as the world's leading centre for the printed and manuscript record of Scotland's history and culture. It also promotes access to the ideas and cultures of the world. It is funded by the Scottish Executive, and is governed by a Board of Trustees.
  • The National Library of Scotland is one of the leading research libraries in Europe. It houses eight million printed items and has been a Legal Deposit library since 1710. Every week it collects more than 4,500 new items.

20 May 2004

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