Friday, 14 August 2009

The National Library of Scotland - 7/27/09

On Monday, July 27th, We visited the The National Library of Scotland (NLS), which is the largest reference library in Scotland. The NLS was established in the early 17th century as a library of advocates and in 1718 they were given a copyright deposit status. The NLS is nationally funded and recognizes a traditional academic user base. One of their many goals is trying to reach out to as much as the population as they can. They accomplish this by hosting outreach programs, offering increased internet services, and housing learning exhibitions.

The collections at NLS are immense with 14 million books and manuscripts, 2 million maps and atlases, 3,000 music scores, 32,000 visual works, and 25,000 newspapers and periodicals. They gain 6,000 new items every week! They have material in 490 languages and the strength of their collection lies in Scottish culture and their manuscript collection.

Unfortunately, we didn't get to look around much as our guide was really focused on getting us to look around in the NLS learning exhibitions that I mentioned above. The exhibition they had going on while we were there was about Scottish emigrants. They had different stations set up that were centered around various people who traveled to the Americas in search of a new life. Each station told a person's story interactively with different tools. Each station held an old fashioned traveling trunk filled with items used to travel with at that time. Each trunk had a telephone where you could listen to letters being read from that particular person. It was an unusual and interesting way of looking at what these people were experiencing during that time. I was really touched by the stories that were being told firsthand through the letters and by being able to touch the things that were in the trunks. I was also intrigued by this exhibit because it was not something that I had ever seen before. In the America's we learn about immigration by seeing exhibits about people who came to the new world. These are basically the same people and the same story, but told with a different perspective.

The National Library of Scotland can be found at

The National Library of Scotland
*photo courtesy of

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