Here’s one I prepared earlier: a guide to promoting your collections – event report


Yesterday I attended CILIPS East Branch‘s afternoon event exploring some different ways to promote our library collections. It took place at the NLS, and over a few hours we were presented with three very different methods of “exhibiting” materials.

Gordon Yeoman, Exhibitions Conservator, National Library of Scotland
Gordon gave us a run down of what goes into putting on a large exhibition such as Northern Lights, the Scottish Enlightenment (currently running at NLS). His team of six people also work with curators and other NLS staff to present smaller exhibitions in various places around the library. This talk was followed by half an hour in which we were actually able to go and view the exhibit. It looks wonderful.

Calum McGhie, Customer Service Manager, Blackwell’s Bookshop, Edinburgh
I found this section particularly interesting. Though it was less from an exhibition viewpoint and more that it gave me ideas of how we might better communicate with our users around the library using ‘shelf talkers’, as they do in bookshops.

Graeme Hawley, Head of General Collections, National Library of Scotland
The ever entertaining Mr Hawley spoke engagingly about the exhibition he wasn’t able to make into an exhibition (because the Enlightenment exhibit was using the space). Instead he built a website of long-read essays and films to tell the story of the decade which (he argues) is responsible for making the world we live in today. You can visit his website here: Back to the future: 1979-1989.

This was a very enjoyable afternoon and I was really impressed by the unusual (perhaps even quirky!) takes on the idea of ‘exhibitions’. Thanks CILIPS East.


ELISA AGM, Networking & Exhibition Tour

endurance-in-ice-lThis year’s AGM will be held (slightly later than usual) on Tuesday 26th September, 5pm at the National Library of Scotland.

Join us for a tour of the Library’s current exhibition Enduring Eye: the Antarctic Legacy of Sir Ernest Shackleton and Frank Hurley led by Paula Williams, Curator of Maps, Mountaineering and Polar Collections.

Following the tour, there will be some refreshments and a short AGM, giving the opportunity to hear about the work undertaken by ELISA during the past year.

Please reserve your place via Eventbrite


Godfrey Hilton Thomson: The man who tested Scotland’s IQ – exhibition

Ornella Pantani from the Main Library Helpdesk at Edinburgh University has submitted  a wee post about their current exhibition:


Have you been a fan of the latest BBC programme ‘How to Stay Young?’. In this case, like me, you will have quite a surprise if you happen to go to the exhibition currently on display until the 26 November in the Exhibition Gallery, Main Library, University of Edinburgh, George Square. The Exhibition explores the pioneering and ground-breaking work in the field of educational research conducted by Professor Sir Godfrey Hilton Thomson, aimed to test the intelligence of every 11-year-old in Scotland.

In the last episode of the BBC programme, they went to Edinburgh to meet some of the very people that were involved in this original study, which represents in its totality the largest-scale of IQ test in Europe. So I’ve found very fascinating to learn in more details about this project, its creator, the way it was developed and its importance.

The Exhibition covers the professional life as well as the personal life of Professor Sir Godfrey Hilton Thomson, giving a full story of the man, his vision and achievements.

A very enjoyable and informative display for all to see.

The exhibition is free and is open Monday to Saturday, 10am – 5pm.

Thanks Ornella!




National Mining Museum visit, June 2016

On the 23rd June 2016 I took part in a fascinating visit to the National Mining Museum Scotland Library & Archive at Lady Victoria Colliery, Newtongrange.

The Museum has a large and varied archive, which includes from the records of the Lothian Coal Company, minute books and papers of the National Union of Mineworkers, and a collection of over 30000 largely National Coal Board plans and engineering drawings.

We were welcomed by the Keeper, Ellie Swinbank, who gave us into the hands of two friendly and knowledgeable volunteers for a tour.

Although there is no library professional employed there, George and Andrew are both ex employees of the mine with expert knowledge in the field. They generously showed us round their surprisingly varied collection.

Much of their work involves answering queries and helping with research. Any enquiries should be directed to Keeper Ellie Swinbank in the first instance.

After the library tour Ellie invited us to visit the main museum exhibition. This was excellent and I’d like to go back when I can take time to look around more. I’m also keen to take the pithead tour!

Thanks to Julie Arnot for organising this event.

The Book Beautiful – at NLS


PictureChoice books from private presses inspired by the late 19th century British arts and crafts movement are matched with some of the very earliest printed books in the Library’s collections. By conceiving the book as a unified whole in which format, page design, type, illustration, binding and raw materials all work together harmoniously, private presses were able to create works of art, the ideal of the ‘Book Beautiful.’

Dates: Open to Sunday 13 March 2016


Venue: George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1EW

Exclusive exhibition tour for ELISA members – update

lifting-the-lid-400-years-of-food-and-drink-in-scotland-lst172554You are invited to attend an exclusive Curator led tour for ELISA members of the current NLS exhibition Lifting the Lid: four hundred years of food and drink in Scotland.

16th Sept 2015, 9.15-10.15am at National Library of Scotland

This is an opportunity to hear from the curator of the NLS’s summer exhibition.  If you don’t know a peck from a mutchkin or you fancy serving mock turtle soup for your next dinner party come along on the 16th  Sept and see how the diet of our ancestors has influenced what we eat today.

Places are restricted to 10 only

Please reserve your place via Eventbrite if you would like to take up this offer. PLEASE also advise Fiona  – – if you need to cancel after booking so that someone else can take your place.

Food glorious food

I had a thoroughly enjoyable tour yesterday of the National Library of Scotland’s summer exhibition Lifting the Lid by Olive Geddes, the curator responsible for the exhibition. Trying to cover 400 years of food and drink in Scotland is quite a challenge. The exhibition has been split into themes rather than being chronological. These include soup, bread, fish and meat, vegetable, desserts and baking, jams and preserves.The exhibition shows recipe books from the 1600s right up to the modern day, household accounts, menu cards and tradesmen’s bills. You are able to see how the Scots had a fairly healthy diet many centuries ago and the changes that the importing of foodstuffs such as sugar has impacted on our diet. The exhibition is set to coincide with Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink.

The exhibition is free and runs until the 8th November. More information can be found on the National Library of Scotland website.

Whilst I was preparing for a future event in the Library to tie in with this exhibition I was looking at a book in our collection published in 1917 called War-Time Cookery: menus and recipes by Mrs J. G. Mitchell. As well as enjoying the many interesting adverts in the book I found recipes for Brown Soup (basically using the carcase and trimmings of a duck along with the giblets) kidneys on toast and Mrs M’Nab’s scones. Hand written into the book was a recipe for a war bake which I thought I would share with you.



If you would like to find out more about these recipes and consult the book it is available for consultation in our reading room in George IV Bridge. Shelfmark  NG.838.f.6 Alternatively you could  come along to our Hidden Library event on the 12th Sept 2.-4.30pm where you learn about the Library’s connection with Sir Alexander Grant and his digestive biscuits, and find out more about rationing and what people cooked during the  world wars.  Younger visitors can bring their teddy bears along for an afternoon of story-telling and drawing activities.

Something for everyone

My colleague and I had the pleasure of welcoming a group from Stirling to the National Library of Scotland yesterday. The visitors were from a  community group and were interested the history of Stirling and also food related materials published during the world wars.


They enjoyed visiting our exhibition on the history of food and drink in Scotland   and also the tour of the library; seeing behind the scenes. We rounded off their visit by looking at  the material that we had selected  for them from our vast collections. One of the items turned out to be particularly relevant to one lady. From Castle Rock to Torbrex: essays on the High Schools of Stirling by Jessie M Thomson and Charles Strachan. The book is a history of the High School as it moved from the old building in Spittal Street to a new one in Torbrex.  Jessie Thomson had been this lady’s English teacher although apparently she had a passion for Scottish history and needed little encouragement to teach them a great deal about Scottish history as well as English. There is something for everyone at the National Library of Scotland. Visit us on line or in person.

Lost in a good book – exhibition

This is such a lovely idea for an exhibition. Well done Central Library – and very well done Mavis! – via Tales of one city

Lost in a good book

by edinburghcitylibraries

exhibitionWhen Mavis started work as a library assistant in central library a few years back one of the tasks she was given was to check returned books for pencil marks and other damage.

While doing this though she came across all sorts of items readers had used as bookmarks and forgot to remove: photographs, business cards, flyers, children’s drawings, train timetables, postcards, wedding invitations….

Mavis asked what to do with these objects. She was told they should be binned. Which she did. For about a week.

“As the rule made no sense to me I ignored it and started to collect them”, Mavis says .

“I didn’t have any sort of plan but something told me that maybe one day even one person could be reunited with a treasured photograph or perhaps a keepsake they thought was lost forever”.

exhibition 2Today is that day.

Many of the items Mavis held onto are the focal point of an exhibition ‘Lost in a good book’, currently on display in Central Library, until 11th June.

Will you see something that looks familiar?

Winter Warmer social – final reminder!!!

ELISAlogo-v1-red - Version 2Hello all

Just a final reminder to book your place for the ELISA Winter Warmer social at NLS next Monday, 9th February at 5pm

Come along to the National Library of Scotland, George IV Bridge for a special tour of the winter exhibition Game of Crowns: the 1715 Jacobite rising led by curator Robert Betteridge.

There will be refreshments served and an opportunity to chat and catch up with ELISA colleagues.

Due to the need to finalise catering, booking will close tomorrow. So please be quick and book your place through eventbrite