National Library of Scotland Annual Review 2008-2009

Building relationships

Man holding tiny gilt-faced book between thumb and forefinger

Working on projects with other organisations is a great opportunity to share our expertise and knowledge, and bring new experiences to NLS. We've joined in with some fantastic events this year, as well as some significant publishing and fundraising initiatives.

Joint events

We held another successful three-day roadshow in September, this time at the Carnegie Library in Ayr. Facsimiles of locally relevant rare books and manuscripts went on show, while staff gave free talks for adults and local history workshops for primary school children. Footage of 'Auld Ayrshire' from the Scottish Screen Archive was also shown. Previous roadshows have been in Perth (2007), Aberdeen (2006) and Moray (2005).

NLS took a lead role in the celebrations surrounding 500 years of Scottish printing in 2008, starting off with a special public showing of the earliest surviving dated book printed in Scotland, John Lydgate's 'The Complaint of the Black Knight'. We also launched a website on the Spread of Scottish Printing to showcase Scotland's printing heritage. This is an ongoing research project which we believe to be internationally unique.

Group of people watching film projected on to the side of a building

An outdoor screening by the Scottish Screen Archive at the Cromarty Film Festival.

The 2008 Cromarty Film Festival opened with an open air screening of the earliest known Gaelic language sound film, 'Eriskay – A Poem of Remote Lives' (1935) from the Scottish Screen Archive [now Moving Image Archive]. Archive curators presented programmes over the weekend. Cromarty is known as 'the smallest film festival in the world'.

The Scottish Screen Archive also collaborated with the Lighthouse Gallery in Glasgow on 'Film and the 1938 Empire Exhibition'. Over its three-month run the exhibition attracted over 27,000 visitors. It was supported by a programme of schools workshops, reminiscence events and public screenings at the Glasgow Film Theatre.

A DVD, 'Scotland Calling', was also produced, featuring some of the amateur films newly preserved by the archive.


As part of 500 years of Scottish printing celebrations, we jointly published a facsimile of the Chepman and Myllar prints on DVD with the Scottish Text Society, and Antony Kamm's 'Scottish Printed Books' with Sandstone Press.

A full colour facsimile of John Thomson's 'Atlas of Scotland' (1832) was published by Birlinn, in association with NLS. The facsimile includes introductory essays by our map collections staff, and images from the original atlas. This continues our successful collaboration with Birlinn through their Limited Editions series.


Work to raise funds from a variety of sources continued apace this year. The John R Murray Charitable Trust maintained its support for the educational, conservation and interpretative elements of the John Murray Archive, while also funding the conservation, cataloguing and promotion of the Bartholomew Archive Printing Record.

Man and woman showing a large map-fronted book

NLS Trustee Lady Balfour of Burleigh with Christopher Forbes at the launch of the American Associates at Forbes Galleries, New York City.

To date, £30 million has been pledged and received for the campaign to safeguard the John Murray Archive and provide public access to its riches. Gifts included a single private donation of £320,000 and major donations from the Badenoch Trust and the Cordis Trust.

The project to refurbish our George IV Bridge building and create a more visitor-friendly environment attracted major gifts from the Wolfson Foundation (£75,000) and the Foyle Foundation (£50,000). A total of £875,000 received from philanthropic and Scottish Government sources.

Building on our strong relationship with supporters in the United States, the American Associates of the National Library of Scotland was established in October 2008.

The group celebrated with a special launch and a display of Burns treasures, courtesy of the Forbes Galleries in New York. The Associates have received $70,000 in donations from individuals to date.

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