NLS learning resource – Struggles for Liberty

A new online learning resource from the National Library of Scotland:

We’ve launched a new online learning resource – Struggles for Liberty: African American Revolutionaries in the Atlantic World. This resource explores the lifelong fight for social justice of African American activists, some of whom campaigned in Scotland in the 19th century.

Struggles for Liberty features writings authored by prominent African American reformers, freedom fighters and campaigners including Frederick Douglass, Maria W. Stewart, Nathaniel Turner, Sojourner Truth, David Walker and Ida B. Wells-Barnett. Their histories are told through autobiographies, letters, photographs and other original documents held at the National Library, in the Walter O. Evans Collection (now at Yale) and in other US library and archive collections.

The resource is arranged by theme including the Story of the Slave, the History of Black Abolition, and African American activists in Scotland. It also includes interactive maps and downloadable learning activities for teachers, including activities mapped to the Curriculum for Excellence.

Struggles for Liberty was created in collaboration with collector Dr Walter O. Evans and partners in the US and th­e UK.

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 (

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