Conservation of a Sketchbook

Open Book

Detail: Ilan Dun from the Village, showing the cragsmen of St Kilda (NRS: GD41/598)

Sir Thomas Dick Lauder was an administrator in manufacturing and fisheries during the 1840s, required to travel extensively around Scotland’s coasts. In his journeys, he sketched detailed scenes of the coastlines and fishing villages he visited.

NRS Conservator Jackie Thorburn has been telling us about striking and interesting items from our archives that she’s been working on. Today, she shares excerpts from one of Sir Thomas’s sketchbooks and tells us how she stabilised and preserved this fascinating record of one man’s working life….

Condition and treatment

This is one of twenty five sketchbooks that Thomas Dick-Lauder produced during his voyages around the British coastline, made between June 1841 & August 1846.

This particular volume – number four in the series and measuring 180 x 265 x 17mm – covers the period from 5 July to 3…

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Lockdown library services

Tales of One City

Whilst libraries are closed you can still access a fantastic free range of online services to fulfill your reading needs.

Put your tablet, phone or computer to good use by accessing our Library2go collection of downloadable ebooks, audiobooks, magazines and newspapers

Libby / OverDrive– our essential app and website for adults and kids with thousands of ebooks, audiobooks, comics and coming soon – magazines.

PressReader– thousands of Scottish, UK and worldwide newspapers and magazines. Download your daily newspaper for free.

Borrowbox and uLIBRARY – two more brilliant adult audiobook services.

Help is available too to get you started or answer any questions you may have about these services – just email the Your Library Helpline at with your contact details and what you need help with and we’ll email/phone you back.

Please spread the message to friends and family who may not be members of…

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Want to get online? We can help!

Tales of One City

Covid-19 has changed people’s lives in many ways. Perhaps, one of the most significant changes is that the use of technology in day-to-day life has become more important than ever before. With no social gatherings, cinemas or eating out, people are turning increasingly to online activities. Whether it’s online shopping, entertainment, work meetings or social gatherings with family and friends, the use of technology is almost unavoidable.

Our libraries have a wide range of books on technology. Whether it’s learning to use a device, learning to use the internet or becoming confident on social media, we’ve got it all covered. As our online presence becomes more and more frequent, staying safe online becomes equally important, so it is essential to know about online safety too.

While our library buildings are closed and there is no access to physical books, we have a selection of resources available online to help! We…

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Scottish Novels to Look Forward to

doug johnstone

The Scottish Book Trust gives an early shout out to The Great Silence, out in August, as one of their Scottish Novels to Look Forward to in 2021. It’s a fantastic list of books, check them all out here.

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Celebrating Burns and the Scots language with Edinburgh Libraries

Tales of One City

Join Edinburgh Libraries in celebrating Scotland’s national poet, Rabbie Burns this week. Born in 1759 in Ayrshire, he was the son of a tenant farmer who went on to become one of Scotland’s greatest heroes. To celebrate his literary legacy and lasting impact we have a range of resources for you to discover and enjoy.

Robert Burns – Poet, by Alexander Nasmyth, 1839

Burns Night Quiz
Each year on the 25 January, Burns night is celebrated across Scotland and the world. Despite the lockdown, this year should be no different! Please join Carol from Stockbridge Library as she presents to you a Braw Burns Quiz. Test your knowledge of Scotland’s Bard and the Scots language on Monday 25January at 7.30pm on the Stockbridge Library Facebook page.

Scots language collectionof ebooks and audiobooks
The Mither Tongue’ collection is a new selection of titles we have…

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Digital resources at the NLS

Happy New Year to everyone and best wishes for a better 2021.

Country Life – August 2019

Thought you might like to cheer up the new year by enjoying browsing in the “Country Life Archive”, to which we have recently subscribed.  I’m sure you are all familiar with the magazine as an amazing source of information and photos of country houses, estates and leisure pursuits, with of course lots of adverts and biographical information too, giving a great insight to lifestyles and culture of their times. It covers the period from 1897 – 2005, in colour and is fully searchable.

Find the resource from this link: within our Digital Gallery.  To use this from your home you will need to register online as a Library reader and to have a postal address in Scotland. This is very straightforward to do and the information is here:

Happy browsing!

Jennifer Giles
Curator (Scottish Communities & Organisations) National Library of Scotland

A few other interesting NLS e-resources to browse from home:

Digital Gallery – View digitised items from the world-class NLS collections
Digital gallery – National Library of Scotland (

Map images – view thousand of maps online
National Library of Scotland – Map Images (

Moving Image archive

Moving Image archive – From home movies to documentaries, from industry to entertainment – the National Library of Scotland Moving Image Archive (formerly the Scottish Screen Archive) has something for everyone. Explore around 100 years of Scotland’s history captured by amateur and professional film-makers.
Moving Image Archive catalogue (

Scotsman Digital Archive, 1817-1950 – A full-text digital archive of every issue of The Scotsman newspaper, from 1817 to 1950, in its original published context
eResources – National Library of Scotland (

Browse the full NLS Digital resources collection here: Digital resources – National Library of Scotland (

David T. Rose’s pictures of Edinburgh

Tales of One City

Our latest Capital Collections exhibition showcases the beautiful watercolour paintings by Scottish artist David Thomas Rose held by Central Library.

Cockburn Street, c1942

David T. Rose was born, grew up and studied in Scotland but his working life as a civil engineer took him further afield including to Malta, Yorkshire, Wales and London. However, he regularly returned for family holidays visiting his sister in Edinburgh and other relatives in Fife. It’s believed the watercolours of Edinburgh and environs in this collection were painted on these trips. The exhibition features scenes of city life encompassing diverse areas including the Old Town and Craigmillar, Joppa and Leith.

Calton Hill, looking west, c1942

To view the complete set of 70 artworks, visit the wonderful David T. Rose’s pictures of Edinburgh exhibition on Capital Collections.

Craigmillar Castle, c1942

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Some of our favourite books of 2020

Book recommendations… for lockdown reading?

Tales of One City

In a year when we’ve turned to reading more than ever for escape and solace, we asked our library colleagues which was their book of the year.

Chris from Fountainbridge Library says her favourite book of the year is Those who are loved by Victoria Hislop.
“It is another wonderful weaving of stories from today back to a difficult and treacherous past. I liked it particuarly because it shines a light on a part of Greece’s history that is just at the edge of human memory and so reveals the youth of today’s great grandparents. It runs very true to some Greek friends own family memories. Victoria’s prose is very readable and the research never restricts a good story. A great book for a wet weekend.”
Available to borrow as an audiobook

Claire from the Information and Learning Resources Team recommends The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge.
“It’s a hazard…

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Conserving Christmases

Open Book

Conservator Gloria Conti looks at a fun item from our archives and tells us about the challenges of conserving a poster that would have been designed for use for only a short period of time…

Sometimes jobs can feel like a treat, and what’s better than a fun job just before Christmas?

In preparation for an internal Christmas display shown within our iconic Adam Dome at General Register House a couple of years ago, I was asked to take care of a piece coming from the Montagu Douglas Scott collection, Dukes of Buccleuch, GD224.

This was a letterpress printed poster dating 1892, part of a bundle of correspondence written between 1890 and 1893 (National Records of Scotland reference GD224/1018/19), advertising an exhibition of Christmas Trees taking place at St. Cuthbert’s Chapel and School in Hawick.

“Christmas trees will be covered with a large number of pretty and useful articles which…

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Edinburgh’s water supply

Tales of One City

A new story on Our Town Stories describes how a clean and safe water supply was brought to the city.

Edinburgh grew up around the Castle Rock with little provision for sanitation. For hundreds of years, residents were dependent on unreliable private and public pump wells, most having to collect water from the communal well.

Waiting at the wells, engraving, 1890

In the 1670s, the first sources of water which came into the city from springs in the Pentland Hills were piped into a reservoir on Castle Hill which in turn, supplied the street pumps. However, by 1817, faced with growing discontent from the populace about the insufficient supply, the Town Council needed to find another solution.

In 1819, approval for the construction of a reservoir at Glencorse was granted.

Glencorse Reservoir, c1879

Read further on Our Town Stories to find out how Edinburgh’s water supply has expanded over the…

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