Down the street — town plans of 19th-century Scotland
Town plans don't come much more detailed than those just added to the National Library of Scotland's website. Over 1,900 Ordnance Survey plans created between 1847 and 1895, covering 62 of the larger populated Scottish towns and cities, are now a valuable part of an essential collection of online maps which, at more than 3,000 images, is one of the largest in the UK.
Using double the scale usually used today, the plans reveal engrossing facts about 19th-century urban Scotland — from the layout of gardens, drying greens and some public buildings to the locations of trees, water taps and manholes. Industrial premises are particularly well represented, in some cases even showing weighing machines, boilers and chimneys, for instance.
Our site's zoom-and-pan facility means that the digitised plans can be explored in close-up — making the new web feature of interest to the general viewer and historical researcher alike. Background information is available for each town, and guides to symbols and abbreviations used by the map-makers have been provided. High-quality printouts and digital images of the maps can be bought from the Map Library. To view our fascinating OS town plans, go to: maps.nls.uk
30 July 2003
Membership of the Burns Federation
A Certificate of Corporate Membership of the prestigious Robert Burns World Federation was presented to the National Library of Scotland this week. On the 207th anniversary of the poet's death, Martyn Wade, National Librarian, accepted the certificate from the federation's president, James Robertson, at a reception in the George IV Building. During a short ceremony which followed, a wreath containing a single red rose was laid before the Library's statue to Robert Burns, who died on 21 July 1796, aged 37.
The Library has an extensive Burns archive within its collections, and a few highlights were on display for the occasion. For more on the archive, see the 'Manuscripts' and 'Books' pages in our Burns feature at http://digital.nls.uk/burns/
24 July 2003
Scottish website sheds light on English language
A remarkable manuscript that gives a unique insight into the language and literature of England in the 1330s has been made available on the internet by the National Library of Scotland.
The 'Auchinleck Manuscript' — named after its first known owner, Lord Auchinleck — is widely regarded as the most important collection of English literary texts written before Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400), who is considered England's first great poet. Donated to the Library's predecessor in 1744, it contains 44 Middle English texts and provides a rare snapshot of the kind of literature and language that Chaucer grew up with in London.
Access to the online facsimile of the entire manuscript will benefit those interested in history who are keen to see this rare document first hand, from schoolchildren to high-level researchers. Accompanied by a transcript and supported by a search facility, it offers a chance to study the historical development of the English language. Our new web feature is a collaborative venture with London University's Centre for Editing Lives and Letters at Queen Mary and Sheffield University.
For more, read our press release, or see the Auchinleck Manuscript at http://auchinleck.nls.uk/.
6 July 2003
Exhibition events series starts
Environmentalist and author Sir John Lister-Kaye features in the first in a series of talks and discussions to complement the National Library of Scotland's summer exhibition, 'Wish you were here'. The programme of events runs from July until October, and, with the title 'As Others See Us', centres on people who have come to Scotland and who now know it well. Sponsored by BAA Scottish Airports, the series also includes two events with a different focus — one on holiday films of the 20th century and the other on the social history of tourism.
Under the heading of 'Song of the Rolling Earth', Sir John will converse with BBC Radio Scotland producer Anna Magnusson about why he chose to live in Scotland and devote himself to the country and its environment. He will also sign copies of his latest book. The event is free, but ticketed: to book, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, phone the ticket line (0131-622 4807) or visit the Library shop.
Among later contributors to the series are Bashir Maan, President of the National Association of British Pakistanis, American novelist Todd McEwen, and a former Scotland rugby internationalist, New-Zealand-born Sean Lineen. Full details will be published online next week.
3 July 2003