Recently I enjoyed one of the most satisfying experiences of over 30 years working here at the Library. Back in early January I had spent several days putting together a 9-page nomination for the inclusion of the Chepman and Myllar Prints – our precious volume containing the only-known copies of the three earliest surviving dated books printed in Scotland, by Walter Chepman and Androw Myllar in Edinburgh, 4 April, 8 April and 20 April 1508 – in UNESCO’s Memory of the World UK Register. At an event in the House of Lords on 14 July it was announced that this nomination had been successful. This is a new Register, and the Chepman and Myllar Prints volume is one of the first 10 items to be put on it. I felt I had done something really worthwhile.
Some of you will know about UNESCO’s World Heritage List which in Scotland includes places such as Edinburgh’s Old and New Towns and New Lanark. UNESCO’s Memory of the World programme is to do with preserving and disseminating outstanding documentary heritage. The Chepman and Myllar Prints, containing predominantly works of Scottish literature (poems by William Dunbar and Robert Henryson), mark the point at which literature, national awareness, and enterprise come together in Scotland in an utterly new form, and constitute one of Scotland’s major cultural icons. You can see facsimiles of the whole volume, and read about it, in our First Scottish Books web feature. If you come to the Library’s shop on George IV Bridge in Edinburgh, you can buy a DVD, published by the Scottish Text Society in association with NLS, containing these facsimiles and also accompanying essays written by a team of leading experts on early Scottish literature.