Wednesday, 12 August 2009

National Library of Scotland

We visited the National Library of Scotland. It is Scotland's largest library. The library focuses on Scottish history, culture, and knowledge. The library has 14 million printed items in its collection. It is a depository library in that the library holds a copy of everything published in the United Kingdom and in the Republic of Ireland. Other depository libraries include the British Library, the Bodleian Library, the Cambridge University Library, the library at Trinity College in Dublin, and the National Library of Wales.

The library also had a very interesting exhibit on Scottish emigrants. It seemed very innovative the way they conveyed information. The exhibit contained letters, photos, voice recordings, props, facsimiles of letters and materials that visitors could pick up and handle, and computer stations at the end where visitors could search for their own family histories. I liked a quote by actor Alan Cumming where he said "the older I get and the more I look at Scotland from afar, I realize how much being Scottish defines me as an artist and as a human being, and how I feel more connected to it." Many Scottish people returned to their own country at some later date after leaving, while others created Scottish cultural societies in their new countries. It is very interesting for me to see the way that outsiders can become insiders, and how immigrants try to strike a balance between assimilation and preserving their own cultural heritage.

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