National Library of Scotland

Internal shot of the National Library of Scotland, showing a large screen with images of people and some exhibition stands.

National Library of Scotland is one of 10 UK-wide partners who are helping save the nation’s sounds as part of the Unlocking Our Sound Heritage project.

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The National Library of Scotland is the guardian of the printed and recorded memory of Scotland, held on behalf of the nation. It fulfils a statutory role as one of Scotland’s most significant cultural and research organisations. The National Library is a major European research library and one of the world’s leading centres for the study of Scotland and the Scots. It is the largest library in Scotland with over 34 million items and is one of the six Legal Deposit Libraries entitled to claim a copy of every printed and electronic work published in the UK and Ireland.


As well as having a digitisation studio at our site in Kelvin Hall alongside the Library’s Moving Image Archive we also work with multiple different collection partners, to bring in 5,000 sound recordings from their archives for digitisation and sharing. Among them are:


  • Aberdeen City Art Gallery and Museum
  • Aberdeenshire Museums Service
  • University of Glasgow Archives and Special Collections
  • Leabharlannan nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Library Service)
  • Museums and Galleries Edinburgh
  • National Library of Scotland
  • National Museums Scotland
  • Scottish Poetry Library
  • Scottish Ornithologists’ club
  • University of St. Andrews Library
  • University of Strathclyde Archives and Special Collections
  • Springthyme Music
  • Fife Cultural Trust
  • National Trust for Scotland
  • Gairloch Museum


We work with volunteers (in Glasgow and through  remote and online volunteering programmes to other parts of Scotland) to help us achieve our project goals, by helping us to digitise, contextualise and curate the content on the recordings and be our “ears” for the project. Our Learning & engagement programme has comprised four artists in residence and two facilitators to compile resources for schools. We have undertaken regular creativity workshops with higher education institutions and presentations to a number of conferences and organisations. You can follow some of this work on the Scotland’s Sounds website.

The collections that we have digitised vary hugely but among them, some of the highlights are:

  • Against all the odds: women in the Communist Party in Scotland 1920-91 - oral history interviews from the University of Strathclyde.
  • The Scottish Ornithologist’s Club’s collection of birdsong and interviews with ornithologist’s.
  • The John Junner collection – home recordings of traditional musicians from the north east of Scotland and correspondence tapes.
  • Scotland’s Record – a varied collection of recordings described by a team member as ‘a statistical account of Scotland, on tape, in the 1980s.


Contact:   Jeni Park, Hub Project Manager, National library of Scotland

Alistair Bell, Sound Curator, National Library of Scotland

Blog: Safe & Sound | Scotland's Sounds | Connecting Scotland's Audio Heritage (

Twitter: Scotland's Sounds (@ScotlandsSounds) / Twitter

Instagram: Scotland’s Sounds (@scotlandssounds)



Compressed magenta sound-wave graphic. Logo for Unlocking Our Sound Heritage. National Lottery Heritage Fund crossed fingers logo


Unlocking Our Sound Heritage

Unlocking our Sound Heritage is a UK-wide project that will help save the nation’s sounds and open them up to everyone.

All projects