National Records of Scotland
The National Records of Scotland was a very fun visit. Unlike some of the other archives we have seen, this building was built to hold records. The NRS is where people come to research their family history. Prior to the NRS, records had been stored in the castle, but they knew they had to move them out. The NRS is funded by the government, and they are responsible for care, access, and info. A really great thing about this organization is that they are online, too. Scotlandspeople.gov.uk is available worldwide for people who can’t come to the NRS. Because of this, they are working to digitize more items for people online. They try to digitize the most popular records. They will also digitize records that are too fragile to be handled. Right now they have less than 50% of the collection digitized. We actually got to tour the digitization studio and see digital imaging in progress! I was completely amazed. I had never seen the actual process before. They are using a combination of new and old methods. They use these big camera machines that have a padded platform to hold the book and glass above the book. The platform moves up to the glass and it closes down on the item and then convert the image to .jpeg. I always thought this would be a slow process, but the machine moves really fast. They check the photo for quality control, and then it goes online.
After our tour around the space, we got to see some of the records they keep at the NRS. They have 72 km of records, including some from the 12th century. We saw 14th and 15th century music scores, some maps, and plans. Then I got to look at 19th century health records and government records from WWII. Among my favorites were letters from America back to Scotland detailing what life was like. I think those are amazing. I also really enjoyed the letters from the French government to the Scottish king asking him to side with the French against the English. The letter was from the 14th century and signed by King Louis VII.