Monday, July 14, 2014

National Library of Scotland

Today we visited the National Library of Scotland. This visit was exciting for me, as it was the first site to have a lot of information dedicated to David Livingstone. The library is mostly underground. In fact, the ground floor is actually level 11. Like the British Library, it is a repository library, meaning they get a copy of everything published in the UK. There are 16 million items in the collection. The current building was completed in 1956. Additional storage was opened off-site in 1995.

National Library of Scotland

(photo courtesy of Kim Traynor via Wikipedia)

The National Library of Scotland is home to the John Murray archives. John Murray owned a publishing house that published works by some of the greatest names in history. Some of these authors included Jane Austen, Lord Byron, and even David Livingstone. The James Murray archive holds over one million items including letters and manuscripts. Every single page of the archive had to be individually treated for preservation.

The National Library of Scotland is not a lending library. However, anything can be brought into the reading room for research purposes, even items valued at one million pounds! A lot of the items have been digitized to help with preservation for the future.

One very interesting feature at the library is a small exhibition room where they display some of the books and manuscripts from the archive, along with stories about them. This opened in 2007. This display is interactive and digital. They're even working on a feature that will allow visitors to email copies of the documents to themselves straight from the exhibit.

One of the displays was about David Livingstone. Last year, they had an exhibition completely dedicated to him. Almost all of the materials relating to him are now digitized and online. They have a manuscript written by David Livingstone on display. It was written by him during an expedition to the Zambesi in 1865!

In order to request materials at the library, one must have a reader's card. Anyone in the world can join the library. All that is required is proof of home address and name. In addition, patrons are allowed to sign up for a reader's card online. Members can make paper or digital copies of almost all the materials at the library. The only restriction would be if the item was too delicate to be copied. However, many items are digitally available online with a reader's card, which can make research easier.

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