Please Sir, may I be excused?

“From bodily indisposition it is not in my power to attend. These seven years by gone I never dare to go out of the house before 10 o’clock in the forenoon and never at no time after sunset in the evening and the last damp brings on my complaint on the other side” – I feel you guy. I feel you.

Open Book

Have you ever asked to be excused from jury service? Well you’re not alone! For centuries potential jurors have sought to escape their civic duty on grounds of health, work or simple inconvenience. Here are some such requests which survive within the High Court of Justiciary held by the National Records of Scotland.

Ill Health

By far the most common reason for non-attendance was ill-health. Lumbago [lower back pain] was a common affliction, as was gout – in 1790 a solicitor from Dumfries had been “for many months past very distressed with gouty and bilious complaints which have confined him to his house for several weeks.”

jury service 1Jury service 2The Sheriff Subsitute of Renfrewshire, reported in September 1790 that he had been “seized withcholera morbus” a historic term for gastroenteritis, and was confined to bed.

A similar reason was given to the HighJury Service 3 Court in Edinburgh in 1796, with the…

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In From The Cold…

This is so interesting – I love the long history of friendship between Scotland and Iceland. Long may it continue!

Open Book

National Records of Scotland recently welcomed a group of staff and history students from the University of Iceland at General Register House, Edinburgh.

The visit involved an introduction to Scotland’s archives and a seminar to consider Scotland and Iceland’s respective national histories, and the nature and survival of historical records.

As part of the visit, our Heads of Digitisation and Learning, Robin Urquhart and Tessa Spencer, as well as Samantha Smart from Digital Services, looked into our archives for interesting documents from Iceland and Icelanders, some demonstrating historic links between our two countries.

We’ve included images of some of the more striking documents from our archives:

– an Icelandic calendar and a book of devotion from 1588-1589;

– a map of Iceland, c. 1748;

– an extract from Sir George Steuart Mackenzie’s travels in Iceland in 1810; and

– an inventory of Thiorbjorn Jonasson, a merchant in Reykjavik who died in Leith…

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Votes For Women! #Suffrage100

100 years ago today Westminster finally passed an Act giving  women over 30 (who owned property) the right to vote.  As an information geek, I’m celebrating the day with a (very) short list of data sources on the Women’s Suffrage Movement…
Suffragettes umbrella stand, Glasgow Women's Library

An umbrella stand painted by Suffragettes in Glasgow’s Duke Street Prison, at the Glasgow Women’s Library

#ReadHarderChallenge 2017 – final list

Here’s my final BookRiot Read Harder Challenge list for for 2017:

  1. Read a book about sports – Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall
  2. Read a debut novel – The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
  3. Read a book about books – The Gifts of Reading by Robert Macfarlane
  4. Read a book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author – A View from the Mangrove by Antonio Benítez-Rojo

  5. Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative – The Highland Clearances by John Prebble
  6. Read an all-ages comic – Lobey’s the Wee Boy!: Collected Lobey Dosser by Bud Neill
  7. Read a book published between 1900 and 1950 – The Hidden Staircase by Carolyn Keene, 1930
  8. Read a travel memoir – The Desert and the Sown: Travels in Palestine and Syria by Gertrude Bell
  9. Read a book you’ve read before – The Rowan by Anne McCaffrey
  10. Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location – 365: Stories by James Robertson
  11. Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location – A Splendid Isolation: Lessons of Happiness from the Kingdom of Bhutan by Madeline Drexler
  12. Read a fantasy novel – The Obsidian Throne by James Oswald
  13. Read a nonfiction book about technology – Unbound: How Eight Technologies Made Us Human, Transformed Society, and Brought Our World to the Brink by Richard L. Currier
  14. Read a book about war – Damn’ Rebel Bitches: The Women of the ’45 by Maggie Craig
  15. Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+ – The Marvels by Brian Selznick
  16. Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country – Ulysses by James Joyce (I haven’t finished this one yet. It’s gonna fit great into one of the 2018 challenges!)

  17. Read a classic by an author of colour – The Man in the Iron Mask – Alexandre Dumas
  18. Read a superhero comic with a female lead – The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer by Sydney Padua
  19. Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey – Warrior of Peace: The Life of the Buddha by Jinananda
  20. Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel – The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall

  21. Read a book published by a micropress – The Birlinn of Clanranald by Alasdair Mac Mhaighstir Alasdair (Alexander MacDonald), translated by Alan Riach, (published by Kettillonia)
  22. Read a collection of stories by a woman – Gossip from the Forest by Sara Maitland
  23. Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love – Nua-bhárdachd Gháidhlig/Modern Scottish Gaelic Poems: a bilingual anthology – edited by Donald Macaulay
  24. Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color – Little Green by Walter Mosley

Book Riot #ReadHarder Challenge 2017

Here’s what I read for the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge this year! My own rules for the challenge were to:

  • only read things that were new to me (except for that one challenge)
  • choose from the books growing dusty on my own shelves as I often as I could
  • read books with a Scottish slant whenever possible

You’ll see there are two still unticked – both very hard reads, for different reasons. I’ll finish them next year (Ulysses will even fit a challenge on the 2018 list!)

Book Riot Challenge 2017

Wilfred Owen, the Advocates Library and the Stevenson connection

To commemorate the centenary of Wilfred Owen’s visit to the Advocates Library I put together a small exhibition. This is the story…

Edinburgh Library and Information Services Agency

One hundred years ago, on the 22nd October 1917, war poet Wilfred Owenpaid a visit to the Advocates Library to meet with Charles John Guthrie (Lord Guthrie). To commemorate this centenary I put together a very small, private exhibition in the Advocates Library. However, since we’re approaching Armistice Day, and it’s a sweet story, I decided to post something here too.

letter Wilfred Owen’s letter to his mother, 22nd October 1917 from ‘Selected letters’ by Wilfred Owen; edited by John Bell, 2nd edition 1998

From the end of June to early November 1917, Wilfred Owen was resident at Craiglockhart War Hospital, receiving treatment for shell-shock. His doctor, Arthur Brock practised ergo therapy, ‘the cure by functioning’. Brock encouraged his patients to work and explore outdoors, and to experience the local community and culture.

dulce et decorum est ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ by Wilfred Owen. Written at Craiglockhart in the…

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Storytelling, cats & infographics

Back in the spring Helen was thinking about ways to raise the profile of the library. As a result of a 3am light bulb moment she came into work with infographics on her mind. Co-incidentally Jane had also been looking into this method of communicating information in a gorgeous and eye-catching manner. We got quite excited – posted on SLLG blog

In recognition of #librariesweek, Reader Services Librarian Helen Robinson and I co-wrote a wee post for the SLLG. However, I am so proud of our infographics, I want to post about them here too.

We started talking about this project in the spring sometime. It was wonderful serendipity that I had been noticing and thinking about infographics just when Helen saw them as an opportunity to market and raise awareness of our Library services, and of the staff who provide them. When she mentioned her idea to me I immediately jumped at the chance to get involved. I relish any opportunity to get to know new bits of software.

Staff are at the heart of the Advocates Library

Staff are at the heart of the Advocates Library

I looked at a few infographic sites but settled on piktochart.com because that platform offers excellent functionality and an impressively large amount of content for free (more is available with a subscription). Piktochart has a variety of pretty templates but, because my ‘story’ ideas are very specific, I like to start with a blank page and build up from scratch.

I have been having an indecently large amount of fun working on this project. I get to utilise my creativity as well as my technical skills. Also, I spend a few hours playing happily while producing something of legitimate value to my job. Although the presentation is always lighthearted and upbeat, I like to include something slightly daft in each one. To my utter joy, even the inclusion of a spurious cat one month was accepted as an obvious and integral part of the overall scheme. Incidentally, that infographic has probably been the best received (a not just because of the cat).

The industry driving our Enquiry Service

The industry driving our Enquiry Service

I particularly enjoy joining and layering the icons provided by piktochart to create bespoke shapes. I love that I can edit most icons to fit my custom colour schemes – and I adore my wee enquiry-train! (it took 8 separate parts to make that – and 3 for the pipe/tunnel!)

We’ve received very positive responses to this infographic series – certainly more than I’d expect if we’d circulated the data in purely text form. I hope that I get to play… that we continue to utilise infographics for a good while longer.