A story of highs and lows during library chief’s career

The zenith of Michael Anderson’s chairmanship at the National Library of Scotland, as a hands-on chairman working with national librarian and chief executive Martyn Wade, have included the acquisition of the vast John Murray publishing archive for £31 million.

However, his career has also had its low points. They included a court case last year, when a senior manager admitted embezzling £500,000 over four years from the library’s digitisation programme.

In 2009, one NLS staff member was disciplined after decorating his desk with Scottish flags, including two Saltires. The result was an e-mail to all staff warning against displays that could intimidate non-Scottish colleagues” or were “sexist or racist”. It was soon after that Mr Salmond called in Mr Anderson and Mr Wade for a meeting.

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The library has an annual budget of £14.8m and employs more than 300 staff. Innovations have run from card-readers for library users to putting 1.4 million documents on line, with an overhaul of the library’s entrance areas with a new cafe and state-of-the-art exhibition space.

“If you want to know what’s happening in the library, look at the popularity and buzz in that space,” said Mr Wade.

More than 10,000 people have registered from more than 100 countries for the library’s online system, in addition to more than 8,000 people who registered to use the reading rooms. The library’s website attracts 2.5 million web users every year.