Wednesday, 1 August 2007

National Library Scotland and Nat'l archives July 23

The National Library is the only copyright deposit library in Scotland so at least one copy everything published in the UK is housed there. It is the largest library in Scotland and is funded by the Scottish parliament with an annual grant. The library receives more than 5000 items weekly and is the leading archive for items published on Scotland's history and culture. The library houses many rare books including the Gutenberg Bible (the first printed book) as well as other collections such as the John Murray Archive which was the focus for our visit this morning.

John Murray Archive

The John Murray Archive includes books, manuscripts and letters acquired over the years by the Murray Publishing House. The John Murray Archive 1768-1920 was acquired by the NLS from John Murry (7). The original business was founded by John Murry (1) in 1768 and carried on over the years by his successors. Some of the most famous authors published by Murray include Lord Byron, Jane Austen and Charles Darwin. John Murray (2) befriended many of the authors and his home became the setting for a literary circle in which the authors would meet for an afternoon tea.

The exhibition at the library uses interactive technology that includes a self publishing tool that demonstrates and allows the user to choose genre topics, title, print type etc. Touch screens also allow visitors to electronically browse through letters and manuscripts.

My Thoughts
I found the exhibit quite impressive. Our hosts explained that the exhibit was meant to provide a theatrical feel and transport the visitor back in time. The exhibit entrance is dark like entering a theater with glass pod like containers holding clothing and trinkets from the different eras. Also it had windows with animated street scenes from the era which looked remarkably like the animation sequences from Monty Python. I found it quite amusing and entertaining. The interactive technology was fabulous. Great for school groups. This has been by far my favorite exhibit and my favorite class trip. They even provided us with a tea, yummy!

After a short lunch break, we met again for our visit at the National Archives of Scotland.
The National Archives is the main repository for items pertaining to the public and legal history of Scotland. Previously known as the Scottish Records office it has roots going back to the 13th century. Its main purpose is to select, preserve and provide access to archive items. It is an agency of the Scottish Executive and is staffed by civil servants including conservationists, archivists, administrative staff, special collection staff and ICT.

I really enjoyed our time at the archives because we were able to view and touch archive items. The most impressive to me being a record scroll from 1495 containing the first written reference to whiskey in Scotland. We had to use white gloves of course but I found our hosts to be quite generous in allowing us this opportunity. Another bonus, we were provided with an afternoon tea. I'm really liking the Scotts!!

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