League of Nations


The predecessor to the United Nations, the League of Nations was established in 1919, after World War I, under the Treaty of Versailles “to promote international cooperation and to achieve peace and security.” It was disbanded in 1940 due to its powerlessness to prevent conflict.

The National Library of Scotland have digitized a selection of League of Nations documents which are all freely available. Until recently relatively few documents at all had been digitised, so this is a welcome resource for researchers from many disciplines.  

The NLS have focused on the organisation’s non-political functions, as they constitute a great part of the League’s activities. Also available are publications giving a background to the League, such as the ‘League from Year to Year

The Bodleian Libraries, Oxford has a League of Nations library guide. It has a useful page on the notoriously complicated numbering system and types of…

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Objects, Archives and Diseased Potato Tubers

Open Book

When we think of archives, the first thing that comes to mind is books, paper, plans and maybe photographs or film.

Objects are not the first thing that we think of, but the National Records of Scotland has gained a number of objects over the years,from knives that have been involved in murders, to a piece of tartan said to have belonged to Bonnie Prince Charlie.

RH19/102, dated 1789 from SC29/53/51, from a trial involving the stabbing of a man at his eye

These have originated from many different collections,and we also hold artefacts that were once used in the early days of the office e.g. candles used in the Historical Search Room and clerks’ rulers. We also hold personal objects and mementos,such as hair of a loved one, which were kept within letters.

All of these objects end up being kept, and they present interesting storage challenges for the…

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16th century Gaelic manuscript acquired by NLS

image of a page from a very old book, with handwritten Gaelic text. Much of page is missing but it has been conserved
the Chronicle of Fortingall

16th century manuscript acquired for the nation
We’re delighted to announce that we were successful in securing the manuscript known as the Chronicle of Fortingall (pictured) at auction last month. This is a significant addition to our Scottish Gaelic manuscripts collection, which is the largest in the world.

Scribes compiled the manuscript between 1554 and 1579 at Fortingall in Highland Perthshire and it contains contemporary annals, poetry and other short texts in Latin, Scots and Gaelic. The scribes belonged to the MacGregor family who compiled the slightly earlier Book of the Dean of Lismore, which is the earliest surviving collection of Scottish Gaelic poetry and one of our greatest treasures. Scholarly research and evidence shows the two manuscripts were almost certainly compiled by members of the same family.

This acquisition was made possible with generous support from the Friends of the National Libraries, the Magnus and Janet Soutar Trust, the B H Breslauer Foundation Fund and the Leckie Family Charitable Trust.

– NLS Newsletter, June 2021

The Government Information Landscape and Libraries. A new publication from IFLA


The Government Information Landscape and Librariesillustrates the challenges and complexities posed by government publishing systems and the need to maintain professional government information expertise in libraries to assist users. The report demonstrates this through a series of case studies from selected countries, regions, and institutions worldwide that provide examples of government publishing practices, depositories, access to information, government libraries, preservation, data, and digitization.

Jennie Grimshaw (British Library) and Hannah Chandler (Bodleian Libraries) have co-authored the chapter (with thanks to Fiona Liang, National Library of Scotland) Government Information and Official Publications in the United Kingdom.

The chapter examines the complex and dynamic nature of official publications in the United Kingdom and how publishing has changed since the 1990s. It also looks at how the legal deposit libraries are collaboratively working together to capture digital publications/websites of official bodies (looking at the work United Kingdom Web Archive) and making them…

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Ethel Moorhead – ‘Scottish Leader of the Suffragettes’

Open Book

National Records of Scotland (NRS) holds a wealth of records about suffragette activities in Scotland, including their prosecution, imprisonment, newspaper reports and cases of force-feeding. In 2018 we celebrated the centenary of some women gaining the parliamentary vote with the exhibition ‘Malicious Mischief? Women’s Suffrage in Scotland’. As part of the exhibition, a mini-website was produced that gave visitors access to: a timeline of women’s suffrage; selected transcriptions of census returns from the 1911 census; and images of the complete files relating to the suffragettes featured in the exhibition. Originally this resource was only accessible in-person, onsite in the Matheson Dome, but has now been published and is available online. To celebrate, I’d like to highlight one of the suffragettes prominently represented in NRS’ archives – Ethel Moorhead.

Illustration of Ethel Moorhead from the magazine, The Wizard of the North (no.401, March 1912, p.7). Courtesy of Libraries, Leisure and Culture Dundee
Illustration of Ethel Moorhead from the magazine, The Wizard of the North (no.401, March 1912, p.7). Courtesy of Libraries, Leisure and…

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Make Music Day 2021

Tales of One City

Make Music Day is described as the world’s largest DIY music festival and takes place in over 125 countries on 21 June. Events in all those countries are free to attend and free to participate in.

Viggianesi musicians
Unknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Make Music Day is about making music, so as it says, it’s all about music – talking about music, listening to music, reading about music, creating musical instruments, watching music being performed. 

However you choose to be involved on the day, visiting the website of the organisers of Make Music Day will give you a load of ideas to how you could express yourself on the day. 

Last year, the Music Department of Central Library wrote a blog with lots of handy hints to being involved in the day, hopefully those hints remain useful this year.

Female musicians wedding of Aurangzeb
Unknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia…

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Go outdoors to Edinburgh’s parks and greenspaces this Mental Health Awareness Week

Tales of One City

Mental Health Awareness Weekruns 10-16 May and this year’s theme is nature. During the Covid pandemic many of us have turned to nature as never before enjoying our local green spaces for exercise, for sustenance and to meet friends outside in a socially distanced way.Researchon the mental health impacts of lockdown have shown that going for walks has been one of our top coping strategies.

Edinburgh has many greenspaces with a wide variety of both managed and natural heritage environments to enjoy. Connecting with nature is central to our emotional and psychological wellbeing and we want to inspire you with some of ourfavouritegreenspaces managed by the City of Edinburgh Council to get out and open yourself up to connecting with nature.

Where can I go?

What’s yourfavouritepark in Edinburgh? Are you looking for new ideas of where to go?Search the directory of parks and greenspacesto…

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Connecting with nature through reading

Mental Health Awareness Week – 10th-16th May

Tales of One City

“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.”
So wrote Henry David Thoreau in his book Walden; or, life in the woods published in 1854.

The theme ofMental Health Awareness Weekrunning 10-16 May 2021 is nature focusing on the importance of nature to our psychological and emotional wellbeing. Research has shown that even small contacts with nature can be effective in helping to protect our mental health.

Staff and readers from Edinburgh Libraries like many have been enjoying nature both by getting outdoors ourselves but also by reading about nature. We’ve put together some of our resources that we hope will inspire you to connect with nature especially as this beautiful Spring of 2021 unfolds its transcendent beauty. Thanks to Fiona, Zoe, Bronwen and Ruth for your contributions.

Gardening magazines


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New sounds from NLS artist-in-residence

As the Library’s artist-in-residence for the Unlocking our Sound Heritage project, Jenny Sturgeon has worked with 30 people from across Scotland to create two collaborative pieces of sound art. Listen to As Far North As Anything Grows and Pushing, Reaching, Falling, Replacing on YouTube. These pieces of sound art were formed from four creative writing and music workshops that Jenny ran between November 2020 and March 2021. They were based around archive material from one of the project partners: Professor James Holms Dickson’s ecology lectures at the University of Glasgow (1989, tape recording pictured). Workshop participants delved into and drew inspiration from archive material and field recordings, as well as creating new music and spoken material.


Feel-good gardening

Tales of One City

Edinburgh Libraries continue to bring awareness of diversity and inclusion in the public arena by teaming up with Trellis for Mental Health Awareness Week whose theme this year is nature. Trellis the place to go for know-how about therapeutic gardening and the art of using gardening to help people take care of their physical, emotional and social well being. To get to know more about Trellis visit: www.trellisscotland.org.uk    

Today, we hand over to Trellis to tell us how to connect with nature.

“You probably know that feeling that comes when you’ve been in a garden for a little while: a subtle slowing of your heart rate, a moment when you notice all is quiet inside your head – the anxious, irritated thoughts from earlier, now gone, and your breathing, fallen into an even, easy rhythm. You may find you’ve lost track of time, the knot in your shoulders has…

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