Libraries: Getting Edinburgh Online

GetOnline2Edinburgh Libraries’ Kenny Sharkey is spearheading a new council initiative to widen digital participation in Edinburgh.  Get Online, as the name suggests, aims to demystify the world of the internet for people with little or no experience and help give them the skills and confidence to get online and take part in the digital world.  We dropped in to a session at Craigmillar Library to get a feel for the project.

Kenny explains that widening participation is key to the project. “It’s remarkable that studies show that 15% of people have never used the internet.  To me digital inclusion is all about helping people access the world of technology that many of us take for granted but get enormous benefit from. We’re trying to reach as many people as possible that can benefit from taking part in this.”

GetOnline3As a tutor of the popular LearnIT courses which were run across Edinburgh Libraries, Kenny had recognised the need to keep up with technology so as well as using  laptops, help is also offered in the use of Ipads, tablets and smart phones.

Sessions are delivered across a 5 week plan and each lasts for 2 hours.  Participants are divided up according to device and asked to choose options from a ‘learning menu’ in order to get the learning experience best suited to their needs.

GetOnline5The success of the sessions also relies upon a band of loyal volunteer tutors which has enabled 1-1 tuition in most cases.  During our visit, Jennifer was helping Mina get to grips with her new tablet.

Jennifer: “It’s really beneficial to people who are scared of learning in a more formal environment. It’s more personable here and people seem to respond better with 1-1 tuition.  You can take it for granted if you have grown up around this stuff. If you are new to it there’s a lot of buzz words to get your head around. ”

Mina:  “I’m starting over again. I’m 90 so I think I can be excused for forgetting things. I’m completely new to this and want to get more out of it. I’ve been using it to do a bit of historical research and to send emails to my family in Australia and Canada.”

Kenny tells us that relying on volunteers is what gives Get Online a strong sense of community. The project has also worked in partnership Castlebrae High School creating a great inter-generational feel.  Barry Ferguson, Head of IT, says: “We tried to get involved with something like this before but it hadn’t worked out.  Since Kenny started this though, things have really taken off. It’s definitely been a confidence booster for the kids involved and helps show the positive role the school can play in the community.”

GetOnline4

Castlebrae pupil Jordan was helping Jill learn what her new IPad had to offer.

Jill: My daughter lives in Australia so I wanted to be able to use Face Time and things like that just to keep in touch.  I want to be able to use it to book tickets and the I-pad doesn’t come with instructions on how to do things like that. I have had about 5 lessons and I’m definitely improving. I’ve face-timed my daughter now and we’ve emailed. It’s great.”

Jordan:  It’s great to help people in this way and as I’m close to leaving school this is great work experience for me.

GetOnline1

Kenny is pleased with the reaction to the service and the way it is helping people feel more connected in their communities and often with family in other parts of the world.

Kenny: “In  a lot of situations people are leaving after 5 sessions and confidently ordering things online and Skype-ing relatives abroad and that’s what it’s all about: ensuring people are confident enough to participate in the digital world”

Initially established in Craigmillar, sessions are now being delivered across the city in locations like Leith, BlackhallMorningside and Central Library.  Check the Get Online blog for future dates around the city or email Kenny for more details.

Russel D McLean at Gilmerton Library

Gilmerton Library hosts a treat for crime fiction fans:

A sneak preview of Russel D McLean’s Cry Uncle, due out later this month.

Cry Uncle is the fifth book in the J McNee series. Could this be the Dundonian investigator’s swan song?

Russel promises “readings, ramblings, a few bad jokes and some insight into how I managed to complete the five book plan I foolishly started upon publication of my debut novel, The Good Son“.

Book Week Scotland event at Gilmerton Library: Wednesday 26th November at  7pm. Book your free place now!

Visit Book Week Scotland to find out about other events, promotions and activities.

Love letters to libraries

What do you love best about your library?

As part of Book Week Scotland people throughout the country are being asked to write a love letter to their library. And we’d like you to get involved.

It’s easy. Write down what you love about your library – using this template letter if you like – and post it in the special letterboxes we’ve got at some libraries or just hand it in to a member of staff.

postbox

You can also post your comments on the Book Week Scotland site and if you’re feeling particularly energetic The Guardian are getting in on the act.

They’re not the only ones. BBC 6 Music have been celebrating libraries over the past couple of weeks as well. There must be something in the air.

We’ll sign off with spoken-word artist Scroobius Pip’s contribution to the 6 Music celebration, which might give you some ideas for your own love letter to your library.

 

James Oswald at Muirhouse Library

Hailed as ‘the new Ian Rankin’, author James Oswald is coming to Muirhouse Library for Book Week Scotland.

James will be reading from and talking about Dead Men’s Bones, the latest installment in the acclaimed Detective Inspector McLean series of novels.

Morag Weatherly and her two young daughters have been shot by husband Andrew, an influential politician, before he turned the gun on himself.

But what would cause a rich, successful man to snap so suddenly?

For Inspector Tony McLean, this apparently simple but high-profile case leads him into a world of power and privilege. And the deeper he digs, the more he realises he’s being manipulated by shadowy factions.

James is also the author of the Sir Benthro series of fantasy novels, which we’re sure he’ll talk about too if you ask him nicely.

And if you’ve got any questions about pedigree Highland cattle or New Zealand Romney sheep, James runs a 350 acre livestock farm in Fife in his ‘spare time’ so he’s your go-to guy on that topic as well.

This free event takes place at Muirhouse Library on Saturday 29th November at 3pm! Book a place now.

Visit Book Week Scotland to find out about other events, promotions and activities.

Author Catriona Child at South Queensferry Library

The sporting gene runs in the Child family. Eilidh is a Commonwealth Games silver medallist and sister Catriona, author of Trackman, has drawn on her experiences swimming for her club and university for her latest novel Swim until you can’t see land.

The book contrasts the struggles of injured swimmer Hannah Wright with the life of Marièle Downie, a wartime spy.

Hannah is forced to give up a promising career as a professional swimmer at the age of just 21, and is adjusting with difficulty to her narrowed horizons.

Meanwhile the wartime exploits of Marièle – who is now frail and old – unfold and she is revealed as a woman of extraordinary spirit.

Catriona will be at South Queensferry Library on Wednesday 26th November to read from and talk about the novel at a free Book Week Scotland event – reserve your place today.

Visit Book Week Scotland to find out about other events, promotions and activities.

Join writer and illustrator John Fardell at Sighthill Library

John Fardell is the author of the adventure trilogy featuring The Seven Professors of the Far North, The Flight of the Silver Turtle, and The Secret of the Black Moon Moth. 

He loves to visit schools and libraries, talking about his writing and encouraging kids to make comics and books.

John will be at Sighthill Library on Monday 24th November at a special Book Week Scotland event for readers aged 8-11.

To book a place at this free event phone 0131 529 5566 or email sighthill.library@edinburgh.gov.uk

Visit Book Week Scotland to find out about other events, promotions and activities.

Dictionar o the Scots Leid

Yaise the updatit online Dictionar o the Scots Leid wi freens. Ye micht be interestit in the history o the leid, Scots buiks or yer ain faimlie’s wirds an phrases.

Staff frae Scottish Language Dictionaries wull be free tae help an answer onie questions aboot their darg.

Staff frae the Edinburgh and Scottish Collection wull be on haun tae. Book Week Scotland publications wull be available for ye tae enjoy, they aye include some scrievin in Scots.

Central Library, Tuesday 25th November, 2- 4pm. Book noo.

Find out about other Book Week Scotland events and activities.