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COL at the National Library of Scotland: Behind the Scenes

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

This course will allow participants to explore the National Library of Scotland with practical guidance and demonstrations from NLS archive staff and a COL tutor in literature.  This course offers a hands-on chance to discover the breadth of literary and musical manuscripts housed within the archives and to hear from experts how the manuscripts are collected, preserved and how they inform research.

Please note, this course takes place at the National Library of Scotland.

Course Details

Content of Course

1. Introducing the library, including a brief tour.

2. Examples from the Archives lecture: Introduce categories of archive/manuscript (editions, letters, contracts, diaries, scores) which will feature in the afternoon.  

3. Visit to the archives.

4. Discussion, to include: how archive materials aid research; how the library acquires them; preservation techniques.

Teaching method(s)

The course will comprise a tour, lecture, a visit to the archives, group discussion and close reading.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate understanding of the breadth of material housed within the archives;

  • Discuss the purposes of collections and archives, and their contemporary relevance;

  • Demonstrate awareness of the basic principles of procurement and preservation of archive material.

  • Demonstrate an understanding of how a literary career is negotiated with publishers.


Core Readings

  • Small, Ian and Walsh, Marcus., 1991. The Theory and Practice of Text-Editing. Cambridge: CUP.

  • Shillingsburg, Peter., 1997. Resisting Texts. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press.

Web Sources

Class Handouts

There will be handouts with manuscript copies and further information.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.