Meadowbank and the Commonwealth Games

Edinburgh has hosted the Commonwealth games twice, an honour awarded to no other city. This unique relationship with the competition has left its mark on the Capital both architecturally and in the choice of leisure facilities available to the people of Edinburgh.

Meadowbank Stadium was built to accommodate the 1970 Games. It has a 400m running track, 100m sprint track, pitches for football and hockey, a velodrome, numerous sports halls and gym facilities available for use to the general public. The games for which the stadium was produced are to this day considered the most successful in the history of the competition. The stadium once again held the games in 1986 and although these were less successful due to political and financial issues at the time, the stadium was still a worthy centre-piece for such a prestigious international spectacle.

Meadowbank Stadium

As the Commonwealth Games return to Scotland for Glasgow 2014, and with some events taking place in Edinburgh, our latest Capital Collections exhibition on Meadowbank Stadium looks to paint a picture of the beloved stadium from its brush with Commonwealth glory to the present day.

Step out with us!

We’re so keen on the Medal Routes (short circular walking routes that start and finish at the same location) put together by Ramblers Scotland.

And not just because many of the routes start and finish at Edinburgh libraries!

Inspired by the Commonwealth Games, there are bronze, silver and gold routes, designed to take approximately 15, 30 or 60 minutes to complete.

When you’re done you can relax at the library (perhaps with one of these tales of walking adventure)

Visit the Ramblers Scotland site to download the maps or pick up pick up leaflets from the following libraries which features as start / finish points:

Currie, Granton, South Queensferry, Wester Hailes, Blackhall,, Leith, Portobello, Central, Craigmillar and Morningside.

And if you’re doing one of the Wester Hailes Library routes you can borrow a pedometer and starter pack, so you can see how far you walk in a day!

Make sure and ask too about the guided walks that the library are running throughout August – and check our progress chart to see which member of staff does the most steps between now and the end of the Commonwealth Games!

‘Elizabeth is missing’ author Emma Healey at Blackhall Library

‘A new talent with a remarkable knack for observation and an ear for dialogue.’ Toronto Star

‘The British author so fully inhabits the 80-year-old heroine… that it’s easy to forget the writer has yet to hit 30.’ Globe and Mail

Her slot at the Edinburgh International Book Festival sold out fast, but rising star Emma Healey will be joining us for a free event at Blackhall Library on Monday 11th August to discuss her acclaimed debut novel.

Elizabeth is Missing is a psychological mystery and a study of dementia narrated by the character of Maud, a forgetful eighty-one year-old whose mind is continually drawn to the disappearance of her friend.

This event, which starts at 7pm, is going to book up fast so reserve your place now by calling Blackhall Library on 0131 529 5587 or email

Track cycling at Meadowbank Velodrome

On a beautiful balmy evening late last summer, we were privileged to attend one of the regular track cycling training sessions at Meadowbank to enhance our library archive’s collection of sport images. The images and film clips show cyclists taking to the boards to train and race on the steep wooden slopes of the Velodrome.

Track cyclists, Meadowbank Veldrome

Meadowbank Stadium and Velodrome were built for the 1970 Commonwealth Games and both hosted the Games again in 1986 when they returned to the city. The training venue has been home to a number of Olympians, world and European champions over the years, including notably Olympian Sir Chris Hoy, former world gold medallist Craig MacLean and former world champion Graeme Obree.

See Edinburgh’s current track cyclists in action in our latest Capital Collections exhibition!

Ajay Close

Thanks to Ajay Close who popped in last week to tell us about her new novel Trust.

DSC_2932Ajay’s readings tantalized but didn’t give away the plot, and our Edinburgh Reads audience were impressed by the authors’ humour as well as her knowledge of the banking world and the miner’s strike.

Thanks Ajay!

Stuart Kelly on “Waverley” at 200

It has lent its name to a railway station, a fountain pen, a type of sock and even an ice-cream cone!

But when it was first published, Walter Scott’s Waverley came out of nowhere.

There was no named author, it didn’t fit into any recognizable genre, and even the quotation at the beginning of the book was ambiguous.

So how did it (and its author) come to have such a huge influence on our country and its literature, and why has it fallen so completely out of fashion?

The answers to those questions were revealed by critic, author and former Booker Prize judge Stuart Kelly at our latest Edinburgh Reads event last Monday.

Stuart argued that rather than viewing Scott as a harbinger for Dickens and the other great nineteenth century novelists we would do better to see him as the heir eighteenth century novelists such as Sterne and Smollett, especially if we consider the self-aware, self-conscious nature of his work.

There’s also a humorous aspect to Scott’s writing, a characteristic which is often overlooked, remarkably so given the passages Stuart read to us over the course of the hour (especially the start of chapter 24 of Waverley).

In terms of story Stuart agreed with Allan Massie that Scott ignores almost all the historical set-pieces you might suppose would be included in a novel on the Jacobite uprising.

And this is typical of Scott. He tiptoes round Scottish history, neglecting figures such as Knox and Wallace, and events like Bannockburn.

He is more interested in illuminating the margins of Scottish history, and echoes Shakespeare (who he quotes throughout his works) in the way he covers the entire social strata. In this sense he is more of a pluralist than those who followed him, and for this reason critics from across the ideological spectrum have been able to claim him as their own.

Before we closed there was time for questions from the floor, giving Stuart the opportunity to enlighten us on how Scott got into so much debt, the nature of the ‘historical’ novel and how to reignite interest in Scott’s work. (Doctor Who is the man  for the job!)

A witty, knowledgeable and engaging speaker, Stuart could I think have happily talked Scott for another hour, and his audience would have been more than happy to listen. At the start of the talk there was a show of hands as to who of us had actually read Waverley, and I’ll wager that those who hadn’t took up Stuart’s challenge to at least give the first chapter a bash, so infectious was his enthusiasm for his subject.

Let’s hope we can get him back for one of the other Scott bicentenaries we’ll be celebrating all the way up to 2032!

Central Library update

Unfortunately we’ve discovered a structural problem with the area where we store the majority of our reference-only material, and some of our lending material. This includes stock from all of our collections, but especially from the Reference, Edinburgh and Scottish, and Music Collections.

We’ve had to close this area off while checks are carried out.
You can still get access to most of the material which is on the public floors of the library.

We cannot yet give a timescale for when access can be restored, but it is likely to be several months. We will keep you updated as work progresses.

Our sincere apologies for any inconvenience this will cause.