Historic library collections get worldwide exposure

The photo shows the front of the Library seen from across the street on a sunny day
The National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh

This post was written by the team at the National Library of Scotland and was originally published on their website here

Images from the National Library of Scotland’s (NLS) historic collections have been added to one of the world’s most popular websites where they can be seen and shared by people everywhere.

It is the first stage in a partnership between the Library and Wikimedia Commons (WikiCommons), the online repository of free-to-use images, sounds and other media files. It is part of the Library’s commitment to widen access to material in its collections and advance knowledge and understanding about Scotland around the world.

NLS has added photographs of the construction of the Forth Rail Bridge (1882-1889) and the aftermath of the collapse of the Tay Rail Bridge in 1879 to the website which hosts more than 20 million files. Other material will be added over the coming months to increase the Library’s presence on WikiCommons which is one of the top 150 websites in the world.

It follows agreement on a new digital content licencing policy at NLS, based on the principle of making information openly available where there are no legal, contractual, privacy or related restrictions.

Last year the Library appointed Scotland’s first Wikimedian-in-Residence, Ally Crockford, who has been working with NLS staff and the public to add content to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia and its sister projects.

She said WikiCommons offered NLS exciting opportunities to reach out to a new audience. ‘People will be able to find this material and will be encouraged to share it. Hopefully they will then come back to the Library’s website to see what more is there. This is the beginning of a process that will see much more of the Library’s collections made available worldwide.’

The residency and the uploading of NLS digital content are part of the on-going collaboration between the NLS and Wikimedia UK.