League of Nations

The predecessor to the United Nations, the League of Nations was established in 1919, after World War I, under the Treaty of Versailles “to promote international cooperation and to achieve peace and security.” It was disbanded in 1940 due to its powerlessness to prevent conflict.

The National Library of Scotland have digitized a selection of League of Nations documents which are all freely available. Until recently relatively few documents at all had been digitised, so this is a welcome resource for researchers from many disciplines.  

Read more on the UK Official Papers Blog

Merging the past with the present: web archiving and the Scottish Parliament website

This blog post has been provided by National Records of Scotland (NRS) and reflects the partnership working between NRS and the Scottish Parliament on web archiving and the release of the Scottish Parliament’s new website.

The Scottish Parliament (SP) launched its new corporate website two weeks ago. One of the challenges they faced was – what do we do with the old site and web content going back to 1999, when the Parliament came into being.

The historical value of this older content was not in question, but the SP team sought options to safely remove this older content from their new site, so long as it remained available elsewhere. To do so, SP collaborated with NRS’s Web Continuity Service to create a solution which incorporated live and archived web content. Read on to learn how we were able to put theory into practice.

Read the full post

New content in the UN Digital Library: Press Releases

As of November 2020, more than 23,000 press releases going back to 1946 have been catalogued in the UN Digital Library, with more than 9,600 records linking to the online version.  Selected newly issued press releases are added on a daily basis.

The UN Digital Library contains descriptions of all biographical notes starting in 1946, more than 5,500 to date, which capture high-level appointments, as well as permanent representatives presenting their credentials to the Secretary-General. This makes it easy to find all the press releases issued for the representative of a particular country.

Over 2,000 press releases record appointments by the Secretary-General of senior officials and allow for easy access to biographical information, for example for Jan Kubis or Jane Holl Lute, who have held several senior appointments.

The UN Digital Library also contains descriptions of and links to the press releases focusing on the Secretary-General’s travels.

Other collections include almost 1,500 Security Council press statements issued since 2001, as well as all the statements issued by the Deputy Secretary-General since 1998.
The Dag Hammarskjöld Library maintains a vast collection of print press releases issued before 1995, which are not yet available online.  Please contact us should you need research assistance or require a copy of specific press releases.

Into the Vault: 75 Years of UN Audiovisual Heritage

As the UN celebrates its 75th anniversary, a team of archivists in the Department of Global Communications races to preserve its audiovisual heritage. For years, the UN’s historic film, video and audio recordings have been at risk due to natural decay, technological obsolescence and challenging environmental storage conditions. In 2016, seeing the importance of preserving this rich collection, the Government of the Sultanate of Oman stepped in with a generous contribution which enabled a 5-year effort to digitize approximately 70 per cent of the archives and make them available through the AV Library website. To maximize discovery and publicize these treasures, the AV Library, with the support of the Video Section and Social Media team, is launching a quarterly video series called “Into the Vault: 75 Years of UN Audiovisual Heritage”. The series explores important aspects of the Organization’s history through its use of selected footage, audio and photographs from the audiovisual archive. Episode One will showcase the General Assembly’s picturesque moments, questioning myths and highlighting important resolutions of the Organization’s most representative body.

Exploring Digitised Official Publications: Large-scale Text Analysis of “Britain and UK Handbooks”

By Lucy Havens

As a Digital Library Research Intern at the National Library of Scotland (NLS), I’ve contributed to several tools for digitally exploring NLS collections. On the NLS Data Foundry website, the NLS publishes its digitised collections and collections data, as well as tools for exploring that data. Prior to my internship, the NLS had published tools for exploring its map collection and geospatial datasets. Now, its tools include Jupyter Notebooks for conducting text analysis. I created five Jupyter Notebooks for five collections on the NLS Data Foundry which explore digitised text and metadata.

What is a Jupyter Notebook? A Jupyter Notebook is an interactive document that can display text, images, code, and data visualisations. Jupyter Notebooks have become popular in data science work because they facilitate easy documentation of data cleaning, analysis, and exploration. Explanatory text can describe what code will do and comment on the significance of the results of code after it runs. Live code can create and display text, images, tables, and charts. The data on which code runs can be sourced from a file, a folder of multiple files, or from a URL (an online data source). Even if you don’t have the Jupyter Notebook software (which is free and open source!) downloaded to your computer, you can still interact with Jupyter Notebooks using MyBinder, which runs the Notebooks in an Internet browser.

Why use a Jupyter Notebook? Jupyter Notebooks are useful for exploring collections as data, helping new research questions to be asked that complement close readings of text with distant readings. Using a coding language such as Python (which I used as NLS Digital Library Research Intern), linguistic patterns such as word occurrences, and diversity of word choice can be measured across thousands of sentences in a matter of seconds. Thanks to the technical fields of computational linguistics and natural language processing, developers have created libraries of code that make it easy to reuse code that answer common questions in text analysis. One such library of code is Natural Language Toolkit, often referred to by its abbreviation, NLTK.

Jupyter Notebooks are useful for writing code to explore digitised collections because they support NLS collections data in achieving the FAIR data principles: 1. Findability – Jupyter Notebooks can be assigned a digital object identifier (DOI) to facilitate their findability. The Jupyter Notebooks on the NLS Data Foundry have DOIs and are also available on GitHub, a platform for creating and sharing open source coding tools. 2. Accessibility – As mentioned previously, a Jupyter Notebook is an open source software platform that anyone can download to their own computer, or that can be run in an Internet browser. 3. Interoperability – Jupyter Notebooks do not depend on a particular operating system or Internet browser (they can be run with Windows, macOS, Linux, etc.; and
in Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.). Furthermore, the Jupyter Notebooks on the NLS Data Foundry include links to their data sources (which are .TXT files on the Data Foundry). Every data source has licence information that provides guidance on how to use and cite the data. 4. Reuse – Jupyter Notebooks promote the reuse of NLS collections data because the Notebooks can be edited live in a browser, whether using MyBinder online or a local version of the software downloaded to your computer. You can edit both the explanatory text and code of a Jupyter Notebook, making it easier to write code even if you don’t have prior programming experience.

Exploring Britain and UK Handbooks in a Jupyter Notebook One of the five collections I used as a data source during my time as NLS Digital Library Research Intern is the Britain and UK Handbooks. The Handbooks dataset I used contains digitised text from official publications that report statistical information on Great Britain and the United Kingdom between 1954 and 2005. In the Exploring Britain and UK Handbooks Jupyter Notebook, I organise the data exploration process into four sections: Preparation, Data Cleaning and Standardisation, Summary Statistics, and Exploratory Analysis. The Notebook serves as both a tutorial for people who would like to write code to analyse digitised text, and a starting point for research on the Britain and UK Handbooks.

In Preparation, I load the files of digitised Britain and UK Handbooks available on the Data Foundry’s website.

Image 1: Excerpt of the Preparation section from Exploring Britain and UK Handbooks

In Data Cleaning and Standardisation, I create several subsets of the data that normalise the text as appropriate for different types of text analysis. For example, to analyse the vocabulary of a dataset (e.g. lexical diversity, word frequencies), all the words of a text source should be lowercased so that “Mining” and “mining” are considered the same word. In computational linguistics, this process is called casefolding.

Image 2: Excerpt of the Data Cleaning and Standardisation section from Exploring Britain and UK Handbooks

In Summary Statistics, I calculate and visualise the frequency of select words in the Handbooks.

Image 3: A data visualisation from the Summary Statistics section from Exploring Britain and UK Handbooks

In Exploratory Analysis, I group the Handbooks by the decade in which they were published and compare the occurrences of select words in the Handbooks over time.

Image 4: A data visualisation from the Exploratory Analysis section from Exploring Britain and UK Handbooks

For More Information If you’re interested in learning more about using Jupyter Notebooks for large-scale analysis of official publications (or other digitised and digital collections), here are a few resources to get you started:

• National Library of Scotland’s Data Foundry (see the Tools page for Exploring Britain and UK Handbooks and four other Jupyter Notebooks)

• Tim Sherratt’s introduction to working with Jupyter Notebooks for analysing gallery, library, archive, and museum collections, along with many other Notebooks that comprise his GLAM Workbench

• The CERL blog post about the NLS Data Foundry supporting scholarship that approaches “collections as data”

• The NLS Digital Scholarship’s collections-as-data GitHub repository that contains all five Jupyter Notebooks created for the NLS Data Foundry

By Lucy Havens 23 September 2020

Public Petitions to Parliament 1833-1918

The National Library of Scotland has set up trial access to Public Petitions to Parliament, 1833-1918 and this is available to registered users until 1st October 2020. There is a link for feedback provided. Please let us know if you find the resource useful and that will assist us in our decision to subscribe.

The ‘Public Petitions to Parliament’ is part of the U.K. Parliamentary Papers resource, focusing on the Select Committee on Public Petitions in the years 1833 to 1918. It includes descriptive records for every one of the over 900,000 petitions accepted by Parliament and the full text of each petition that the Committee transcribed.

What to look out for in Parliament in Autumn 2020

Politics in Autumn 2020 will continue to be dominated by Coronavirus and the negotiations with the EU, as the end of the post-Brexit transition period approaches on 31 December. But what will this mean for parliamentary business in the coming months, and what scope will there be to tackle other issues?

Hansard Society Briefing 28th Aug 2020

This briefing was written by Dr Ruth Fox (Director) and Dr Brigid Fowler (Senior Researcher).

Scottish Parliament summer recess 2020

The Parliament will be in recess from 27 June to 9 August inclusive. However, it is expected to meet weekly each Thursday throughout the summer period. These will be virtual meetings, other than on 9 and 30 July, when there will be hybrid meetings, with Members in the Chamber and able to participate remotely. 

Details will be published in the Business Bulletin

The Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee will meet in private on Monday 29 June 2020. The agenda can be found here.

During the summer recess, the Business Bulletin will be published once a week on each Monday, from Monday 29 June until Monday 10 August 2020, when normal publication will resume. There may also be additional publications of the Business Bulletin in relation to days when parliamentary business is scheduled.

You can keep up-to-date with news from the Scottish Parliament by subscribing to their eBulletin

Up-to date Covid- 19 resources can be found on the SPICe blog

OECD digital hub for coronavirus (COVID-19) content

For the next few months, all content related to the global coronavirus crisis is fully accessible for all users on the OECD iLibrary.

A trusted source of timely, reliable information, OECD is making all content related to coronavirus COVID-19 easily accessible via a dedicated digital hub – www.oecd.org/coronavirus.  Updated on a daily basis, the site provides a single entry point for OECD’s latest evidence, analysis and advice on economic and social policy responses to the pandemic.

All of the OECD iLibrary content is freely available to anyone with a residential address in Scotland and registered with the National Library of Scotland. There is guidance on how to register and access this resource.

Coronavirus Statutory Instruments Dashboard

The national effort to tackle the Coronavirus health emergency has resulted in UK ministers being granted some of the broadest legislative powers ever seen in peacetime. This Dashboard produced by the Hansard Society highlights key facts and figures about the Statutory Instruments (SIs) being produced using these powers in the Coronavirus Act 2020 and other Acts of Parliament.

Originally posted on Hansard Society website 7th May 2020

Scottish Parliament eBulletin

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Image from Scottish Parliament ebulletin

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Scottish Parliament’s eBulletin for weekly updates on what is happening in the Scottish Parliament.

As well as the daily business included are the SPICe resources for Covid-19, details of the committees calling for views on the impact of Covid-19 on Scotland’s culture and tourism sectors and  Equalities and Human Rights It also lists all current consultations

United Nations oral history interviews and transcripts

Did you know that the UN Dag Hammarskjold Library offers a digital collection of oral history interviews and transcripts with senior UN officials and diplomats that offer insider views and personal perspectives on the Organization’s work to maintain world peace?


We invite you to explore this collection in the UN Digital Library.
You can also access this content by selecting the “Images and Sounds” collection from the UN Digital Library home page:

United Nations Digital Library SystemUnited Nations Digital Library System – United Nations Digital Library Systemdigitallibrary.un.org

Explore the world’s history by listening to (some of) the voices that influenced and shaped it!

United Nations – COVID-19 response

Most likely you are aware that the UN system, in particular the World Health Organization, has been at the forefront of the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is an abundance of information being released everywhere and it can be confusing, misleading or completely erroneous at times.  Please take a look at the following resources that may help you navigate this information and also lead you to more substantive materials that your library users/clients may be asking for.
Main COVID-19 UN web portalhttps://www.un.org/en/coronavirus

UN Secretary-General’s statements, briefing papers and reportshttps://www.un.org/en/coronavirus/un-secretary-general#reports

Recorded statements by UN officials on COVID-19 (UN WebTV)http://webtv.un.org/search/?lan=English&cat=covid-19&sort=date
Web page pointing to COVID-19 information resources of the UN systemhttps://www.un.org/en/coronavirus/information-un-system

The United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld Library offers the following FAQs in three languages (Via Ask DAG service):

Main WHO website on COVID-19
https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

WHO situation reportshttps://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports

WHO coronavirus/COVID-19 global researchhttps://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/global-research-on-novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov

In light of the proliferation of misinformation, the “myth-busters” page on the WHO website may also be helpful – many of the informative graphics can be downloaded and re-used.
https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters

You are welcome to any resources found on these websites and in the research guides listed above.  All UN documents are in the public domain and can be freely disseminated.  When re-using these resources, kindly give appropriate credit.