Monday, 19 July 2010

National Library of Scotland

 Dark photo from inside the John Murray Archive exhibit

Although we did not have a formal tour of the library, there was a new exhibit on the John Murray collection. John Murray I developed a publishing firm on Fleet Street in 1786.  Over 1,000 titles were published and that was only the beginning.  His son, John Murray II took over the business when he was only 15.  He launched the firm into a more prosperous and renowned business.  Murray held literary meetings that Sir Walter Scott coined "Murray's 4 o'clock friends". This was grounds for the start of the 1824 literary group The Athenaeum Club.  Murray II's wife inherited the archival collection.

The John Murray Archive collection displays over 200 years of manuscripts, letters, and history.  Display cases exhibit noteworthy items from Charles Darwin, Jane Austen, Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, Lord Byron, David Livingstone and more.  Interactive computer monitors highlight and then describe items as you select each one. They were mostly academic, although I was amused by the comparison of Lord Byron to modern day Prince.

There is a great interactive timeline of the archives on their Web Site,

There was also an exhibit on the history of golf that I found very interesting.  The floor space was set up complete with putting greens and flags.  At the entrance, patrons can pick up a golf score card that will guide them through the exhibit.

The library has a General Reading Room, Music and Rare Books Reading Room, Manuscripts Reading Room and a Multimedia Room.  The collection started in 1680s although the library did not open until 1689. Over 490 languages are represented although the main focus is the study of Scotland and Scots.  Every subject is covered and the collection spans 110 miles of shelving.  Their preservation department has a division called The Reprographic Unit that maintains the collection at all phases from storage, exhibition, transportation and patron use.  This would be a very interesting department for the class to visit.   You can place orders for images at

Visit their site at

No comments:

Post a Comment