UNESCO adds NLS items to cultural heritage register
Items from the National Library of Scotland are included in a worldwide online catalogue of cultural merit that is launched today.
The United National Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has developed a UK version of its Memory of the World Register. Focusing on items of outstanding universal value, it promotes the UK's documentary heritage across the UK and the world.
UNESCO has chosen a film and three collections from the NLS archives as Scotland's first items to gain Memory of the World status:
dated 4 April 1508.
- 'St Kilda: Britain's loneliest isle, 1923-1928' — a film capturing scenes of a community that was to disappear in 1930 after 2,000 years
- The Pont maps — a collection of hand-drawn maps by pioneering cartographer Timothy Pont that offer an important insight into 16th-century Scotland
- The Chepman and Myllar Prints — a volume by Scotland's first printers which contains the earliest surviving dated book printed in Scotland (1508)
- The archive of the Company of Scotland - which includes the Darien Papers held at NLS. This company was involved in the ultimately disastrous scheme to set up a Scottish trading colony in Panama in the 1690s. The Royal Bank of Scotland also owns part of the archive, and the nomination of this collection was made jointly by NLS and RBS.
All 10 of the first inscriptions on the UK Memory of the World register have been described as 'some of the UK's exceptional, but lesser-known, documentary riches'. They were formally recognised today in an event at the House of Lords.
Read more in our UNESCO Memory of the World press release.
14 July 2010
Trustees respond to consultation on NLS reform
The National Library of Scotland's Board of Trustees has responded to the public consultation on reforming the Library's founding legislation. Held by the Scottish Government, the recent consultation focused on proposals which would modernise the 1925 National Library of Scotland Act.
NLS Trustees have agreed to modernise the Board and reduce the number of Trustees from the present level of 32. However, they disagree with the proposal that Scottish Ministers should be able to 'direct' the Library. Read the Trustees' response to NLS consultation.
8 July 2010
Deciphering David Livingstone's diary
David Livingstone's fragile 140-year-old diary is the subject of a major project which will decipher the Scottish explorer's faded handwriting.
During his journeys in Africa in 1870-1871, Livingstone improvised when he ran out of paper and ink.
He tore pages out of books and old newspapers, writing around the margins and crosswise over the text. For ink, he used pigment taken from the seeds of a local berry. His writing on these pages has been virtually unreadable for many decades.
Recovering unique observations
Scientists are now recovering Livingstone's unique observations using a ground-breaking multi-spectral imaging technique to illuminate the pages and separate the layers of texts.
At the end of the project, the missionary's diary will be available in unabridged form for the first time, on the Livingstone online website.
Part of the diary is preserved by the National Trust for Scotland at the David Livingstone Centre. Further portions and additional letters are held at the National Library of Scotland - the largest repository of Livingstone-related documents in the world.
The 18-month Livingstone diary project was launched at NLS by a transatlantic team of researchers from University of London's Birkbeck College and spectral imaging scientists from the USA. The team has already produced a demonstration edition of a Livingstone letter from 1871.
8 July 2010
Maps display shows details of Renaissance Scotland
Visitors to Edinburgh this summer have a chance to see a selection of the earliest surviving detailed maps of Scotland.
Timothy Pont's unique hand-drawn maps give us an illuminating glimpse into the Scottish landscape during the Renaissance period. They have become one of Scotland's greatest historical and geographical treasures.
During July and August, a changing group of four of the fragile original maps is on display, along with enlarged prints of others from the collection. All the Pont maps also feature in a slideshow.
Pont created the first comprehensive survey of Scotland, and his work formed the substantial basis of the first Atlas of Scotland.
The Pont manuscript maps display is open daily from 5 July to 29 August. Admission is free.
2 July 2010