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National Library of Scotland
National Library of Scotland
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Reviewed by:
Wayne Hanley
West Chester University
January 2004

These virtual exhibits, teaching resources, and digital maps offer teachers a valuable resource on the history of Scotland and Great Britain, although many of the materials offer insight beyond the history and borders of Scotland. The 15 exhibits are varied. Some links explore the history of Scotland through maps or profiles of famous Scottish writers (Burns, Stevenson, and a photographic exhibit of contemporary writers such as JK Rowlings). There are several histories of the book and bookbinding in Scotland, special exhibits on key events and people in the history of Scotland (Mary Queen of Scots, Churchill, and World War I), and an exhibit on the history of photography.

These digitized collections are well organized and easy to use. Several are specifically designed with the classroom teacher in mind. Experiences of War and Churchill come complete with teaching materials and activity sheets (designed for the British curriculum, but easily adaptable to fit any American curriculum). Scotland’s Pages provides a timeline of key events in Scottish history with links to complementary resources (it requires Macromedia Shockwave Player). Other exhibits—Burns, Stevenson, and Maps—while not specifically intended for classroom use were designed with that possibility in mind. The collection of maps (one of the world’s 10 largest) offers viewers nearly 800 browsable and zoomable maps organized into four groupings: “Maps of Scotland, 1560-1928,” “Pont’s Maps of Scotland, 1583-1596,” “Military Maps of Scotland (18th century),” and “Ordnance Survey town plans, 1847-1895.”

The collections specifically designed for classroom use, however, are worth investigating. Experiences of War, for example, relates World War I from three different perspectives: seen through the eyes of General (later Field Marshal and Earl) Douglas Haig, Nurse Mairi Chisholm, and Lance Corporal George Ramage. Students and teachers alike can trace the war thematically or by following the individual stories. Each stage is supplemented with letters, memoranda, and other primary sources. Seven individual lessons and activities (”Off to war,” “Trench conditions,” “The technology of warfare,” “Censorship,” “The experience of war,” “Attitudes towards war,” and “Issues for investigating”) provide insight to the nature and impact of the Great War.

Whether it is for finding ideas for teaching various topics, for seeking primary sources for classroom use, as a resource for a research project, or for one’s own edification, the Library of Scotland a vein of gold waiting to be mined.

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