We have launched our Annual Appeal — this year to raise the funds to conserve some of the most at-risk and fragile photographs in our collections.
A lens on Scotland
Edinburgh, from a collection
of Patrick Geddes.
The National Library is home to a collection of around 376,000 photographs. They are glued into family albums and personal scrapbooks, treasured in lockets, or presented in boxes of loose prints.
From albumen prints to lantern slides to calotypes, these photographs were prized possessions and are irreplaceable accounts of history as it unfolded.
Yet in their current condition large parts of our photography collections cannot seen by the public.
A recent Library survey revealed that many are already afflicted by mould, surface dirt and broken glass.
These need urgent attention to ensure that the stories they depict are accessible to future generations.
19th-century photographs in need of repair
One collection which is a conservation priority captures the work of Patrick Geddes. These are photographs of the Old Town of Edinburgh collated by the prolific town planner, botanist and educator for the 1890s 'Cities Exhibition'.
Beautifully sharp images of iconic architecture projects including the Scott Monument and Holyrood Palace are punctuated by photographs of the trades and tenements chaotically packed into closes and wynds of the Royal Mile.
Sadly the prints were neglected before being donated to the Library a few years ago, and mould, surface dirt and decaying adhesives are now evident in this collection.
How you can help
The National Library's photography collections are rich and irreplaceable.
We cannot afford to lose them, and so must urgently invest in treating them in our conservation workshop.
With your support, our expert conservators will painstakingly remove surface dirt and mould, slow gradual fading and discolouration, and house the material in a suitable way so that it can be accessed and treasured for years to come.
If you are able to support our appeal, please visit our appeal donation page.