National Library of Scotland events are free and take place in our George IV Bridge Building, unless we state otherwise.
List updated: 17 September.
On the British lighthouse trail
For centuries lighthouses have not only guided mariners to safety but also inspired artists, photographers, seekers of solitude and lovers of the great outdoors. In this illustrated talk, Sarah Kerr describes her attempt to visit all the lighthouses in Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. Describing her discoveries about the changing face of these treasured landmarks, she explains how her journey led to the publication of 'The British Lighthouse Trail: A Regional Guide'.
Tuesday 17 September
Free. This event is fully booked.
Paolozzi at large in Edinburgh
Eduardo Paolozzi (1924-2005) was one of the greatest Scottish and European artists of the 20th century. Born in Leith, Edinburgh into an immigrant Italian family, his talent was exceptional, drawing on culture in all its forms. The book 'Paolozzi at large in Edinburgh' pays homage to his Edinburgh-based masterpieces, and includes poems written in tribute to his work. In this talk, authors Christine De Luca and Carlo Pirozzi discuss the creative processes of the 'grandfather' of the Pop Art movement.
Thursday 19 September
Free. This event is fully booked.
David Hume on God
Author David Purdie clarifies some of Hume's most challenging texts about religion in his new book with Peter Fosl, 'David Hume on God'. Exploring Hume's writings on religious affairs, he considers a subject which was of central importance to him, adapted for a modern audience. David Hume was one of the most influential minds of the Scottish Enlightenment. His writing on history, politics and philosophy continues to shape thought to this day.
Thursday 26 September
Free. This event is fully booked.
Macmillan Coffee Morning
Home-baked cakes, hot drinks and sweet treats are going on sale to support the World's Biggest Coffee Morning. All proceeds go to Macmillan Cancer Support. Come along and enjoy cake, a cuppa and a chat in aid of charity.
Friday 27 September
No need to book, just drop-in.
Sharing 50 years of Scottish Ballet's history
Experts explain the process to save the archive of Scotland's well-loved national ballet for posterity. 2019 sees the 50th birthday of Scottish ballet. The Moving Image Archive is working to digitise its archive, including original footage on film and videotape dating back to the 1970s. A behind-the-scenes video demonstrates how digital restoration is helping to bring past performances back to life.
Thursday 3 October
Free. Book 'Sharing 50 years of Scottish Ballet's history' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.
Why vegan? Why not?
Jackie Jones, author of 'The Scottish Vegan Cookbook' explains how and why to add more fruits, vegetables and grains to your diet. Veganism is on the rise in Scotland with plant-based options becoming ever more available to enjoy. Jackie shares the health benefits as well ways to making the most of Scotland's abundant larder. She also addresses philosophical questions about going vegan. Suitable for all with an interest in plant-based cooking, ethics, nutrition and the environment.
Tuesday 15 October
Free. Book 'Why vegan? Why not?' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.
Scottish Football: Requiem or Renaissance?
With Henry McLeish
A talk by former Leeds United, East Fife player and First Minister Henry McLeish. He examines his own and his country's dysfunctional relationship with the beautiful game, to understand the soul and spirit of Scottish football. Looking from the history of Scottish football to the current state of play, McLeish seeks solutions for the issues currently plaguing the Scotland side.
Thursday 17 October
Free. Book 'Scottish Football: Requiem or Renaissance? with Henry McLeish' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.
Scottish International Storytelling Festival
Taking listeners on a journey of the imagination is at the heart of this annual festival, celebrating the art of storytelling. At the National Library we are hosting a week of storytelling events, including sessions inspired by John Kay's caricatures, Elizabeth Blackwell's herbal, and cultural connections between Scotland and Canada.
Tuesday 22 to Tuesday 29 October
Free. Booking required. Read more about Scottish International Storytelling Festival 2019.
Where are the Enlightenment women?
Sara Sheridan discusses her work to uncover the varied lives of the Enlightenment women. She refers to the book she authored, 'Where are the Women?', Historic Environment Scotland's landmark publication. Widely lauded, the book imagines Scotland's built environment with monuments, streets and statues renamed after women instead of men. The publication is based on Sara's extensive research to create a Scotland that acknowledges its female history and commemorates the women of the Enlightenment.
Tuesday 5 November
Free. Book 'Where are the Enlightenment women?' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.
Professor Sir Kenneth Calman
In conversation with Rosemary Goring
An evening of conversation, chaired by Rosemary Goring, considers the remarkable life and career of Professor Sir Kenneth Calman. When first Scotland, and then England, wanted to appoint a Chief Medical Officer, Kenneth Calman was the man for the job. When the Scottish Parliament needed someone to examine expanding its powers, Kenneth was the top choice again. He has also been chancellor, vice-chancellor, chairman and president for organisations including the British Medical Association, Glasgow University, and the World Health Organisation.
Thursday 7 November
Free. Book 'Professor Sir Kenneth Calman in conversation with Rosemary Goring' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.
Annual Muriel Spark lecture
This year's annual Muriel Spark lecture is given by Scottish author Janice Galloway. In her talk, Janice hopes to offer a snapshot of the unique prose and mindset of Edinburgh-born Spark. Moral lessons, sidelong humour, and steely accuracy are just some of the attributes describing Spark's work. Her playfulness, clarity and sharp observation of post-war women forging new sensibilities are second to none.
Tuesday 12 November
Free. Book 'Vital Spark — Annual Muriel Spark lecture' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.
Recording and celebrating Scots words and phrases
Dr Rhona Alcorn, CEO of Scottish Language Dictionaries — 'SLD' — traces the history of Scots dictionary-making. Professor Robert McColl Millar considers how to assess Scots usage today. SLD's Senior Editor, Pauline Cairns Speitel, discusses her selections from: '100 Favourite Scots Words', compiled from SLD's long-standing 'Saturday Herald' articles. Scots dictionaries first appeared in the wake of 18th-century lists of Scottish terms deemed 'improper' by the linguistically insecure. They also arose in glossaries produced to help readers of medieval Scots texts.
Tuesday 19 November
Free. Book 'Recording and celebrating Scots words and phrases' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.
Enlightenment architect or enlightened architect?
In this talk, Colin Thom, editor and co-author of 'Robert Adam and his brothers', explores and reassesses how Adam's buildings were influenced by Enlightenment philosophy. Robert Adam is one of Scotland's most famous architects. A product of the Scottish Enlightenment, Adam was friends with leading thinkers of the day, like David Hume. Hume's advocacy of empiricism and individualism is thought to have influenced Adam's personal reinterpretation of classicism and general disregard for dogma.
Thursday 21 November
Free. Book 'Robert Adam — Enlightenment architect or enlightened architect?' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.
Scotland in 3D
A Victorian virtual reality tour
Author and collector Peter Blair introduces stereoscopy, a technique traditionally used to create the illusion of depth in photographs. Referring to Victorian techniques, he reveals that 3D photography is not entirely new, instead it was the most popular form of photography in 1860. With antique 3D images from his new book, he takes a virtual reality tour of Scotland via the main Victorian tourist hot spots. The event promises to astound with Victorian ingenuity and the timeless beauty of Scotland. 3D glasses are provided.
Tuesday 26 November
Free. Book 'Scotland in 3D — A Victorian virtual reality tour' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.
Little threads of civilisation
Unpacking one of Scotland's greatest road trips
Landscape architect and historian Paul Daniel Marriott explores an extraordinary scenic journey, taken 200 years ago. In 1819, Thomas Telford and Robert Southey toured the Scottish Highlands for six weeks to inspect the region's newly built roads, bridges and canals. Their road trip was meticulously chronicled by Southey, and was one of the greatest of the Picturesque era. Paul explores what compelled this unlikely duo, Telford — dubbed the 'Colossus of Roads' — and Southey — Britain's Poet Laureate, to go on tour.
Thursday 28 November
Free. Book 'Little threads of civilisation — Unpacking one of Scotland's greatest road trips' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.
Scotland the worst
A derogatory guide to the worst places to visit in times gone by
Author Charles Maciejewski presents a compendium of some of the less-generous comments made by 17th, 18th and 19th century Scotland visitors. His book 'Scotland the Worst: A derogatory guide to the worst places to visit in times gone by' records visitors' thoughts. 'The New Town of Edinburgh is beautifully monotonous, and magnificently dull', observed J Johnson in 1834. With a humorous take on past 'TripAdvisor-style' remarks, Charles reflects on the past and hopes much has changed for the better.
Tuesday 3 December
Free. Book 'Scotland the Worst — A derogatory guide to the worst places to visit in times gone' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.
Christmas shopping day
Join us for our annual Christmas shopping day, with yuletide bargains and festive treats galore. We're sure we'll have something for everyone. Enjoy a 15 per cent discount on everything in our shop. A delightful way to see in the Christmas season.
Thursday 5 December
Free. No need to book, just drop in.