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.


LocScot event at NLS – places still available

National Library of Scotland

LocScot event at the National Library of Scotland with a tour of the National Museum of Scotland Library.

This one day LocScot event will take place on Tuesday the 20th March in the National Library of Scotland.


 09.45-10        Registration and coffee

10–10.45     Scottish Local History Directory The Scottish Local History Forum, in association with the National Library of Scotland and LocScot, are working together to create a free online Scottish Local History Directory, hosted on the SLHF website. Inspired by the invaluable publication  “Exploring Scottish History” by Michael Cox (last published in 1999), the project was made possible by work placement students from the Information & Library Studies (ILS) programme at the University of Strathclyde. Users will be able to search. T he directory by keyword or advanced search options to all kinds of local history resources across Scotland.  The project partners and students will give an update on the project so far and invite your help to grow the directory’s coverage.

10-45-11      Coffee

11-12.15       Representatives from Historic Environment Scotland will join us to give an overview on the HES Library web resources – find out how to access and fully utilise resources such as Canmore; ScotlandsPlaces; Scran; Britain from Above; Dictionary of Scottish Architecture. This helpful and informative session is designed to update and inform us so that we can further utilise and promote these fantastic resources.

12.15 – 12.30    Graeme Hawley from the National Library of Scotland  will also talk on the E-resources that NLS has available

12.30–1.45      Lunch at Vittoria’s on the Bridge

2pm        A guided tour of the National Museum of Scotland’s Library and the Scottish Life Archive has been arranged – this tour is limited to 15 people so the first to book will secure a place!

This LocScot event is free and lunch is optional but a good chance to network. When you book you will be sent details of the menu, cost and how to pre order lunch.

To book please contact     Jennifer Giles 

NLS Workshop series 2018 bursaries


NLS are running a series of workshops in 2018 on the subject of text and data mining, with a focus on skills, audience, content, value, and technical literacy.

The workshop series is intended to be collaborative and to engage participants from academic bodies, digital industry, and heritage organisations, as well as independent or freelance individuals and innovators. To support the latter, NLS are offering up to four bursaries to compensate for time committed to the workshops.

Bursary applications are welcome from any qualifying individual and must be received by 18.00 on 28 February 2018.

Applications should be sent by email to Robin Smith at Please read the bursary information, including the bursary application terms and conditions, before submitting an application.

As well as bursary-holders, attendance at the workshop series will be by invitation.

The workshop series is a project funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh and supported by the National Library of Scotland, working with partners at the University of Glasgow and Culture24.

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


ELISA mini-quiz – Graeme Forbes, National Library of Scotland

nlsexterior2Your name:  Graeme Forbes
Library:  National Library of Scotland
Job Title:  Head of Collections Management

How did you become a librarian/what was your career path?
After graduating with a degree in English from the University of Stirling, I wrote to every University in the UK (there were fewer in 1979) asking for a job. I accepted an offer of a trainee post from Edinburgh and I was on my way.

I subsequently worked for Edinburgh City Libraries, West Surrey College of Art & Design, Leicester Polytechnic, and Napier College, Polytechnic and University before joining the National Library.

Did you need any specialist training for your current role?
I read for a Master’s degree in Librarianship and Information Science at the University of Sheffield, and later, whilst working, I gained an MBA from Edinburgh University.

What makes your library/department unique?
It’s the only National Library in Scotland! And of course, the breadth and depth of our collections, and our Legal Deposit privilege.

What is your favourite aspect of the job?
Working with so many smart and interesting people.

What has been your most complex/funny/unusual enquiry?
I was once asked for my trousers!

[Whilst at Napier I taught on the HNC Librarianship course which involved a trip to Mauritius for a distance-learners in-college week. On one of the days I returned from a lunchtime break, with my linen suit sodden after being caught in a sudden tropical downpour.  The students (all female) were very insistent that they take my suit to dry it.]

Many thanks to Graeme for becoming our first ‘mini-quiz’ respondent. If you’d like to take part, or have anything else you’d like posted on this site, please contact me – The Webmaster!

Trial of retrospective music periodicals service at the National Library of Scotland

A message from the NLS:

The National Library of Scotland is currently trialling electronic reference services providing retrospective access to music periodicals:

  • RIPM Retrospective Index to Music Periodicals (1800-1950)
  • RIPM Online Archive of Music Periodicals (Full-Text)
  • RIPM e-Library of Music Periodicals

Trial access is for onsite users only but feedback can be given via an online survey:

The trial ends on 6 Nov 2016.

For enquiries email

Ms Almut Boehme Music Curator | Collections and Research Department National Library of Scotland

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

Scotland on Screen website upgraded and re-launched!

Film education website is upgraded and re-launched

The Scotland on Screen website has re-launched with improved capabilities. This educational website, built in partnership with Education Scotland and Creative Scotland, can now be viewed on all platforms including tablets and smartphones. Containing hundreds of free-to-watch short films and clips from our Moving Image Archive, the website also has guidance on how to use archive film in school projects and lessons.

View the Scotland on Screen website

ELISA Winter Warmer

The ELISA Winter Warmer will take place on Wednesday, 9 December 2015 from 16:45 to 19:15 (GMT) at the National Library of Scotland.

It is a winter celebration for the ELISA community.  Including a talk on bibliotherapy by Christine Cather, a chance to meet up with new friends and colleagues plus a discount in the National Library shop.

All welcome – refreshments will be available
Tickets are free and can booked via Eventbrite 



ELISA’s Winter Warmer social – an illustrated report

Fiona scrutinising a display
Fiona scrutinising a particularly interesting display of Jacobite documents

Apologies for the delay in posting this report – I did mean to do it far sooner. Better late than never though, eh?

ELISA’s Winter Warmer social 2015 took place on the evening of Monday the 9th of February.

Around fifteen ELISA members turned up to the National Library of Scotland, George IV Bridge for a special tour of the Game of Crowns: the 1715 Jacobite rising exhibition, led by Rare Books Curator Robert Betteridge.

I arrived at NLS a little after 5pm to find the first group had already set off on their tour round the exhibit. I chatted with those left behind and enjoyed the very tasty snacks that were on offer – many thanks to Fiona for organising those… Once Group 1 returned, me and the rest of Group 2 had our chance to view the exhibition.

Robert kindly gave me permission to take photos for inclusion in this report.

As you can see, the range and scope of documents Robert Betteridge has collected together is very impressive. Robert explained that he’d wanted to present the documents in context. For that reason the exhibition begins by looking at the various contenders for Scotland’s throne at the time, examining their familial connections and religious leanings.
The main body of the Game of Crowns exhibition is made up of pamphlets, letters, and legislation.
There are also various maps and illustrations on display, as well as coins and a very impressive sword! Touch-screens offer an interactive element, while specially recorded audio files sing songs and give voice to historic characters.
There seemed to be a fairly large proportion of items on display which were written by or about the Earl of Mar, a Jacobite general. My favourite piece in the exhibit was an I.O.U, written by Mar on a scrap of paper, for items commandeered to the Jacobite cause.

It’s amazing to me that such a literal scrap of history is not only still in existence, it is here on display for my viewing pleasure!

Robert Betteridge is a quietly spoken man but his knowledge of this subject is extensive. This knowledge was gained during the curation of the exhibition! I’m sure everyone who attended this event would like to thank Robert for taking the time to give us these tours. I found his commentary extremely informative and particularly appreciated the incite he gave into the creation of a major exhibition of this type.
Game of Crowns: The 1715 Jacobite rising runs until the 10th of May 2015 at NLS, George IV Bridge Building