In Stevenson's footsteps
One of the winners of the Robert Louis Stevenson Award for 2002 has described his prize - two months' residency in France - as 'an amazing experience'. Ian Brotherhood from Ayrshire and Jules Horne from the Borders jointly won the award, which was initiated eight years ago and which offers writers the chance to work at the Hôtel Chevillon, an international arts centre in Grez-sur-Loing. Robert Louis Stevenson visited Grez-sur-Loing in the 1870s, and it was in the hotel that he first met his future wife.
For Ian Brotherhood, the opportunity to meet other writers and painters from various parts of Europe while developing his own writing was a 'once-in-a-lifetime chance', and inspired him to complete 105,000 words of his novel!
For more on Ian and Jules and on the award in general, see our press release.
30 January 2003
Robert Burns joins the Digital Library
The National Library of Scotland has marked the anniversary of the birth of Scotland's bard with the creation of a new section on our website. In time for January 25, a Robert Burns 'mini-site' becomes part of the Digital Library, offering information and images relating to Scotland's most famous poet, the significant people and places in his life, and, of course, his writing.
As well as providing facts, quotes, and short audio clips from recordings of Burns songs, the site puts online for the first time fascinating detail of the extensive collection of poems, letters and other manuscript items by or relating to Burns held by the Library, together with pages of essential information about the significant rare books in our collections - many of them first editions.
See the Robert Burns site at http://digital.nls.uk/burns/.
24 January 2003
New to the Electronic Resources Network
ScienceDirect, one of the most advanced Web delivery systems available for scientific, technical and medical information, has now been added to the National Library of Scotland's Electronic Resources Network.
As one of the world's largest databases covering these areas, ScienceDirect contains more than 1700 titles from Elsevier Science, providing research journals, abstract databases and reference works, and featuring publications such as The Lancet. Subjects range from brain research to accounting, with some arts and humanities included.
All titles can be viewed at the dedicated ERN workstations in the George IV Bridge Building during 2003. From next year, the Library's subscription to ScienceDirect will be based on subject collections covering specific disciplines, determined by the level of use of each title this year.
17 January 2003
Binding honour for Edinburgh man
|A conservator with the National Archives of Scotland was the winner overall in the Library's annual Elizabeth Soutar Bookbinding Competition 2002. The award to James A Thorburn of Edinburgh, announced at the prize ceremony in December, was for his binding on Dreaming the Gokstadt by Thomas Joshua Cooper, which, in accordance with a condition of the award, will be added to the Library's modern craft bindings collection.|
Nineteen entries were received for last year's competition - the 10th since 1993 - and, in the judges' opinion, set an exceedingly high standard. The student winner was Katarina Smedberg, from Sweden.
Commenting on his award, James expressed his pride in the fact that his work will have a place in the Library's collection - 'alongside some very important and beautiful books".
17 January 2003
New features in the Electronic Resources Network
Reference services available to visitors to the National Library of Scotland have been expanded and enhanced by two additional electronic sources.
xreferplus, described as 'a giant reference library', makes 120 books fully searchable and browsable online. Around 80 million words and 5000 images can be accessed from dictionaries, encyclopedias, thesauri and atlases produced by the world's leading publishers, such as Penguin and Macmillan. Oxford Reference Online is an enormous cross-searchable resource of 100 Oxford language and subject dictionaries and reference publications. New works and new editions will be added to it every year.
These features have been included in our Electronic Resources Network, which can be used only at dedicated workstations in the George IV Bridge Building.
Try before we buy: Until 2 February we have on trial (as part of the electronic network) the online version of Keesing's Record of World Events, a monthly digest of reports on worldwide political and economic affairs. If you would like to try this resource and let us have your comments, please ask at the General Reading Room Enquiry Desk. (For information about opening hours, reader's tickets, etc., see the 'Info for users' section.)
10 January 2003
Pont points the way from the Web
A 16th-century map featured on our website has led to a recent re-discovery of the long-forgotten site of a medieval Scottish castle.
The map, produced by Timothy Pont (ca. 1565-1611), who was later minister at Dunnet Parish Church in Caithness, clearly shows a tower house in part of the Black Isle not far from Cromarty. Although archaeologists in the 19th and 20th centuries didn't support the idea of a castle on that site, Pont's map on the Library's website has provided the evidence of its existence at Eathie.
National newspapers reported that a local historian and museum curator made the online discovery and used it to trace the castle's location and the remains of abandoned houses and farm buildings.
Pont's maps were added to the site last year as zoomable, high-quality digital images, and have been a great success. View the collection at: maps.nls.uk/pont/
10 January 2003
Link with historic location is no more
Centuries-old books that have been stored on the same wooden shelves for more than 180 years have been rehoused in a move that ends the last link with the historical location of collections currently held by the National Library of Scotland.
When it was formed in 1925, the Library took over the national collections that had been gathered by the Advocates' Library since the 1680s. More than 250,000 books continued to be shelved in the Courts Building, which is attached to the Advocates' Library and reached from the National Library by a connecting corridor. While the Courts Building was certainly atmospheric, it presented working difficulties, and the decision was taken to transfer the material to other Library buildings. Among the books moved out was a set of 23 volumes of surveys of Egypt from Napoleonic France, still in the wooden cabinet they arrived in in 1831.
10 January 2003