Coincidences in old Scots law

There are a few resources in the library that we don’t have cause to consult very often, the statutes of the pre-1707 Scottish Parliament being an example. As our set is huge (see the photo below with tissue box for scale) we mainly use them to impress work experience kids!


However earlier this week I had a request for an early 17th century Act so had reason to open one of the volumes and while looking through it the Act below from the 1621 session of Parliament caught our eye.


Later the same day I was at the National Library of Scotland for a talk by Colin Beattie MSP on 17th century Scottish history as he has interpreted it through his collection of original documents. It seemed quite a coincidence that one of the first documents he showed us was the Act above! Twice in the same day joking about the same Act!


Before I became a law librarian I studied environmental science, I may never have used my BSc professionally but my interest in environmental topics remains, therefore I look out for relevant talks and events in Edinburgh; in the past fortnight I have attended two Edinburgh International Science Festival events about energy.

The first was a visit to the FloWave TT wave test tank at Edinburgh University’s King’s Buildings campus. having spent some time researching wave and tidal energy technologies at work I was interested to see a tank in reality, sadly there were no devices being tested in the tank but I did get to see it “perform” in terms of waves and current. Before the tank demonstration there was a series of interesting talks from Edinburgh University staff about renewable energy policies, the history of wave tanks at Edinburgh University, and testing wave and tidal energy devices at the EMEC sites in Orkney. Then it was on to the tank itself (if you are interested in the specifications see the FloWave website). We were shown the tank producing a variety of waves and currents of different speeds. I snapped a couple of photos of the waves.

rough sea Sine wave

The second event was a panel discussion on the perfect mix of energy in an independent Scotland, Lesley Riddoch chaired as Dr David Toke (Aberdeen University), Dr Paul Harding (Urenco), Professor Gordon Hughes (Edinburgh University) and Marco Biagi (MSP) talked about their areas of expertise and then discussed various points before opening up the debate for public questions. I think all the panel were agreed that renewables are a good thing for Scotland but there were many other points of contention. First being what will provide the baseload of electricity for days when the wind turbines aren’t producing – gas or nuclear?  The low-carbon choice is nuclear but many seemed against this. There were also heated discussions over the relationship between Scotland and England and the rest of Europe and how and where energy will be bought and sold and the role of the big 6 energy companies. It was an interesting debate but inevitably no conclusion could be reached.

Why am I blogging about personal interest stuff in a library blog? Because as well as being a personal interest energy is an important sector for the firm I work at, increasing my knowledge of the sectors we work in helps me to perform better in answering enquiries and doing research for the lawyers.  We don’t just do legal research in the library but business research too and as I mentioned above recently I have been lucky enough to be asked to do research on parts of the renewable energy sector, I’ve made my interest in the sector known to the lawyers and I hope this may lead to more interesting research coming the way of the library.

In addition to going to talks and tours which I’ve found for myself I have also been attending training sessions at work, our trainees lawyers have lots of seat specific training at lunchtimes and I have been attending some of these; so far I have been to the seminars for Scottish property law and for construction law. I have found them to be particularly useful in increasing my understanding of the practical side of the work we do which is helpful in understanding how to support the lawyers. It also helps in “marketing” our services to be seen at these sessions, I have found everyone to be very welcoming to me and happy that I am interested enough in their specialist topic to give up my lunchtime to listen to them. I intend to keep attending these sorts of sessions when appropriate, it may take a little of my own time but the results are absolutely worth it.

Putting Scotland on the map

Back at the end of January I went to an interesting talk at the National Library of Scotland about the Bartholomew family and the history of their map making firm. I have finally made it to the related exhibition in the library which also features material from the Bartholomew Archive which is now held by the NLS, the exhibition is fascinating.

The talk focussed on the members of the Bartholomew family and their contributions to the company and to map-making in Scotland and beyond. From George Bartholomew,  the first engraver in the family, in the early 1800s, right through to 1995 the family have been involved with maps.

What I found most fascinating in both the talk and the exhibition is the history of map-making from engraving to digital maps, and the how improvements in printing technologies  enabled more detailed maps to be printed. The coloured maps showing topography are particularly impressive, and it’s interesting to see how the colours are built up during the printing process.  I am in awe of the skill of the engravers, the tools they required to produce the detail in a map are tiny and they work back to front, no wonder their apprenticeship took several years!

Geography was always my favourite subject at school and I followed this up with a degree in environmental science. I often think that if I hadn’t become a librarian I’d have liked to be involved in cartography somehow.

If you’re at all interested in maps I recommend the exhibition, it’s on the NLS until 7th May 2013