The Making of Glenrothes

The National Library of Scotland join us for ReimagiNation: Glenrothes with a display and films from their collections relating to Glenrothes and Scotland’s New Towns. Jennifer Giles, Curator for Scottish Communities and Organisations in the General Collections department, introduces the exhibits they’ll bring to the town this month below. See the event listing here: Talking New Towns with the National Library of Scotland

The National Library of Scotland will be joining the Book Festival’s ReimagiNation event when it visits Glenrothes to celebrate the town’s 70th anniversary in May.

We will be opening up the Library’s collections to showcase some of our modern material relating to Glenrothes. We will have a pop-up cinema in an empty shop unit in the Kingdom Shopping Centre where we will be showing Glenrothes related films and a stand at the Rothes Halls where we will have a display of images from items in our collections, illustrating the history and development of Glenrothes. The Library has 26 million items, so we have quite a few to choose from!

The National Library keeps the National Published Archive, and as part of that it collects the recorded memory of Scotland, in print and film, which we keep forever and make accessible to everyone.

We try to collect printed material as comprehensively as possible, and this includes local leaflets and newsletters as well as commercial publications. This means that we have items published by the Glenrothes Development Corporation from throughout its entire existence, as well as other local publications. We have selected content from the various commemorative booklets that the Corporation published when the town was 10, 30 and 40 years of age, as well as the Corporation’s own newsletter, Grapevine. These may sound corporate and dull, but they give lots of insights into the aspirations of the developers and new residents at the time of writing. Looked at now, they also allow us the chance to dip into the past and enjoy the adverts and photographs of familiar places. Unfortunately we cannot bring the publications themselves – they are much too precious to risk losing them – but we will have a selection of interesting images and stories on display. If you would like to see the books yourself, order them through the catalogue at and visit us at George IV Bridge in Edinburgh.

We also have images from the Municipal tenant’s handbook for Glenrothes, published by the British Publishing Company in 1961. This gives all sorts of helpful information to new residents, from advice on general repairs, to how to lay a lawn!

The Library will also transform an empty shop unit into a pop-up cinema for the three days. Films from the Moving Image Archive will be screening throughout each day focusing on Glenrothes in the 1950s and 1960s. Some of the highlights we will be screening include a wonderful promotional film from 1959 showing Glenrothes through the eyes of a miner and his family, explaining all the benefits in order to encourage people to move to the town. Alongside this is a film documenting the glorious Festival Week of 1963, with the Brass Band, dancers, school pupils, Girl Guides, army cadets and the presentation of festival ‘Lad and Lass’ by Duncan MacRae. There will be a selection of films from all of the five New Towns – providing an opportunity to spot the similarities and the unique quirks of each New Town! There will also be an interesting snapshot film about Stonehouse from 1974, the sixth proposed New Town that never got developed.

The National Library is one of the legal deposit libraries, which means it collects a copy of everything published in the UK and Ireland, free of charge, and has been doing this for centuries, hence our very large collections. This includes everything, no matter how small or large, and no matter what the content or format is. So you will find the latest romance, academic journal, poetry pamphlet, newspaper, church newsletter, football programme and local leaflet, to give but a few examples. We are always trying to add to the collections, but do need help from local communities to identify new material from each area, and to fill gaps in our collections. If you know of material that we might not have, please contact Jennifer Giles (, or visit our stand to discuss with the staff there.

As a result the national collection is unique and irreplaceable – a collection that grows by an estimated value of £6 million p.a.! No matter what you are interested in, the Library will have something for you. The material on display at Glenrothes is just a small taster of what the national collection has for you to enjoy. There is also lots of digitised material that you can enjoy at home; explore this at

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