National Library Scotland Gains Global Recognition Again

Monday, 23 May 2011

The National Library of Scotland has again been selected to have a collection included in a worldwide online database of cultural merit.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has selected the John Murray Archive (JMA) as one of the 2011 additions into the UK Memory of the World Register.

In its inaugural year (2010) the Library had four inclusions in the register including maps from cartographer Timothy Pont and books from Scotland's first printers Walter Chepman and Andrew Myllar.   

The register is a global celebration of heritage, focusing on archive, library items and collections of outstanding universal value, with a remit to promote their merits.

The JMA, which is now permanently housed at the National Library of Scotland following its recent acquisition, is a treasure trove of over 200 years of the Murray firm's publishing history. Featuring over 250,000 items, the JMA contains letters, manuscripts and business records from over 16,000 people, including some of the greatest writers, politicians, explorers and scientists of the late 18th to the mid 20th centuries.  Charles Darwin, Lord Byron, Jane Austen, Sir Walter Scott and David Livingstone are just some of those great names published by the Murray family since 1768.     

Martyn Wade, National Librarian and Chief Executive Officer of the National Library of Scotland, said: "To have been included in the register last year was thrilling. To have been included again so soon is recognition of depth and quality of our archives here in Edinburgh. It is especially pleasing that the John Murray Archive has been selected for the register following our recent acquisition of the collection and our commitment to make it accessible to the nation."

The UK Memory of the World Register was established last year with the aim of highlighting some of the UK's lesser-known items of historical interest by awarding them with the globally-recognised Memory of the World status.

David Dawson, Chair of the UK Memory of the World Committee, said: "We were incredibly impressed by the diversity and richness of these nominations to the register."

The Bank of Scotland Archives and Lothian Health Services Archive on Aids/HIV were also selected by UNESCO.



Issued by Beattie Communications on behalf of the National Library of Scotland  



Notes to editors

About JMA

  • The collection contains the business, literary and personal papers of the John Murray Publishing house, the eighteenth century Edinburgh publisher and bookseller Charles Elliot and the London publishing house of Smith, Elder and Company. Within the collection are the papers of the poet Lord Byron, which include the majority of his manuscripts, correspondence, legal, financial and personal papers.


About the National Library of Scotland

  • The National Library of Scotland is a major European research library and is the world's leading centre for the study of Scotland and the Scots - an information treasure trove for Scotland's knowledge, history and culture with millions of items.
  • The Library's collections are of world-class importance. Key areas include rare books, manuscripts, maps, music, moving images, official publications, business information, digital collections, science and technology, and the modern and foreign collections.
  • The Library holds well over 14 million items, including printed items, approximately 100,000 manuscripts, over 32,000 films and nearly 2 million maps. Every week it collects approximately 6,000 new items. Around 80% of these are received free of charge in terms of the Legal Deposit legislation.
  • See for further information about the Library and its collections



Memory of the World programme


UNESCO's Memory of the World programme was established in 1992 to promote preservation of and access to the world's archive holdings and library collections. The vision of the programme is a simple but powerful one - the world's documentary heritage belongs to all, should be fully preserved and protected for all and, with due recognition of cultural mores and practicalities, should be permanently accessible to all without hindrance.


The UK Memory of the World Register was established in 2010 to highlight documentary heritage which holds cultural significance specific to the UK. The Register is managed by the UK Memory of the World Committee and complements the UNESCO Memory of the World International Register, which is a catalogue of documentary heritage of global significance and outstanding universal value.


In addition to maintaining Registers the Memory of the World programme campaigns to raise awareness of documentary heritage and to alert governments, the general public, business and commerce to preservation needs. The programme also raises funds and provides expertise to support preservation and digitisation projects in developing countries and for archives at risk.