Christmas Quiz: Tolkien or Ikea?

Can you identify which words are characters from the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, and which are items of furniture from Ikea?

Take the quiz now!

This was one of the rounds in our annual Big Book Group Quiz, held in association with Blackwell’s Bookshop. Congratulations to winners “Two little ducks”, pictured below, this year’s book brains of Edinburgh.

2 little ducks


Level Up at Wester Hailes

lvlup5Level Up launched last year in Wester Hailes Library as a way to tackle low levels of reading among teenagers using the library. The library adopted an innovative approach to try to boost the reading habits among this group which tied reading into the more familiar territory of computer games.

We caught up with the level uppers at their AGM (yep, they take this seriously) as they plan the year ahead. A group of around 14 teenagers sit enthusiastically pitching ideas to Library Officer Tony Stewart for future activities and reward nights which include games tournaments, minecraft sessions to pizza nights and archery. The caveat being these must be earned through the accumulation of xp points they gain from reading.

lvlUp2Tony explains: “We brought  these two worlds together and in order to keep it as a group we made it weekly and based it around interesting activities for them to do and at the same time encourage them to take out books.  Gaining XP points as they take out books then creates a sense of achievement through reading.”

“The XP awarded to a book is based simply on how long the book is. Each list includes   5 short books/graphic novels, some of which are dyslexic friendly, and 5 longer books. This is to give those who have issues with reading the option of an easier read. Reading the shorter books means reading more books to reach the level cap but this adds to the sense of achievement in completing the level, encouraging them to try a longer book in the next.”

Like any game Level Up starts on “LvL1″. This consists of a list of 10 books, each with its own amount of XP reward. Once the player reaches the 1000 XP cap they can then move onto “LvL2” which has its own list of books and so on. Along the way the readers are given stickers to add to their reading journal to document their journey.

lvlUp4Tony says this approach has made a real difference: “We have seen higher borrowing levels in all the kids who take part and greater self-confidence and more enthusiasm for the library in general.”

“They all seem to have a feeling of ownership for the group as well which is one of the things we aimed to achieve. This has bonded the group quite tightly together.  They come to the weekly meetings now and take part in activities and now all leave with a few books tucked under their arms to get their xp points.

We have some who aren’t confident readers who are taking out books. They aren’t taking out tonnes or reading them all but even if they read a few I feel it makes a difference and we are making some progress.”

Everyone is also encouraged to share their new love of reading and discuss what they’ve been reading. This can take place during one of their weekly sessions or through a micro book review which they post to the Level Up twitter feed.  During our visit everyone is busy writing a love letter to the library, an event promoted as part of Book Week Scotland.

LevelUP Letters

Some of the boys taking part are happy to point out the benefits of the group:

Alex: I’ve been doing this for over a year. It’s great taking part in all the activities and games. I like building up my points and collecting the stickers and achievements for reading. It’s  good to come along to a group where you are rewarded for learning.

Daniel: You get different points for different books so there’s always something you can find to suit you. I’m currently on 595 xp.  I definitely take out more books now and where I never used to read much before and now sit at home and read for ages.

With the future year getting planned out so diligently it looks like Level Up has become a firm fixture in the regular events at Wester Hailes calendar and  is likely to expand out to some of the other libraries in the city.  If you are interested in taking part, ask in your local library for more details.

Follow Level Up and read reviews on twitter: @LVLUPxp

Another mysterious gift!!

mystery giftChristmas came early to the Edinburgh and Scottish Collection at Central Library this week when an anonymous donor left a mysterious gift on the shelves.


Along with a tiny coffin containing a doll-like figure, modelled on those found on Arthur’s Seat  in 1836, was a card inscribed with the following:


To Edinburgh City Libraries

— A Gift —

For the folklore, history, archaeology, supernatural…

“‘I’m Jamie, Dr Brodie. Do you remember me?’ Rennie blinked; swallowing hard to suppress the nausea surging upwards from his boots on its way to crash into the roof. A pounding giddiness took immediate possession of him, making it difficult for him to focus on anything; every image, including the old man and his mute partner now blurred as blurred again as they were during the mighty tremblings of the device. 

‘I… I’m afraid I do not know what you mean sir – are you not a lad from Patrick…’ Rennie was reeling, desperate for any respite. The reply was immediate. 

‘You must remember “Daft Jamie” sir, the lad you murdered in Edinburgh last year in your first experiment with your scientific machine'”

We’ve established that these words are taken from Christopher Wallace’s novel ‘The Resurrection Club’, but more remains unknown.

Is this the latest gift of the legendary Edinburgh Mystery Book Sculptor? Or do we have a copycat on our hands?

We’re not sure. But we’ve a feeling we haven’t heard the last of this…

What do you think? Do let us know.

And if you’d like to see the coffin for yourself visit the Edinburgh and Scottish Collection at Central Library where we’d be delighted to show it to you.

More Magic Magazines!

Edinburgh Libraries downloadable magazine service Zinio just keeps getting better and better! There are 23 new titles available from December bringing the number of magazines available up to 109. Perfect for using on your tablet, computer or smartphone.
BBC Mags 2There are a great range of BBC titles now including Top Gear, Gardener’s World, Countryfile and BBC Music.  Dip in to  BBC Good Food, Easycook and Olive magazines in time for the Christmas cooking frenzy. Put your feet up during the festivities and relax with some of our new women’s titles including Best, Red, Prima, Instyle and Elle UK.

If you are interested in the past check out BBC History, Who Do you Think You Are? and Homes & Antiques. For those of us more future thinking we’ve also got iPad & iPhone User, Android Magazine, Focus and T3.

Contact if you have any queries regarding this service.


The best Book Week Scotland ever

Thanks to everyone who helped make this the best Book Week Scotland yet.

Aerial performer Rachael Macintyre got things off to a spectacular start as Stockbridge Library unveiled “Under the shy moon” – an artwork created by Rachel Barron in response to Jackie Kay’s poem ‘Dear Library’.

Rachael Macintyre at Stockbridge Library

Our sincerest thanks too, to authors Gavin Francis, James Oswald, Russel D McLean, Catriona Child, Doug Johnstone, Ian Stephen and John Fardell who visited libraries across Edinburgh during the week to read from and talk about their work.

Finally, we are so grateful for all the messages and love and support expressed in all the Love Letters to Libraries which we received during the week. Richard Holloway’s incredible love letter to Edinburgh Central Library was even featured in the Sunday Times.Richard HollowayWe are just as grateful for every other letter that we received during the course of the week, many of which sit proudly on display in libraries throughout the city.

Here’s to next year!

Bookface photo competition

Entering Blackhall Library’s Bookface competition is well easy.

1. Blend a book cover featuring a face, body or part of either with your own face or body. Like this:

(yeah you can use a dvd if you want)

2. Email your picture to and say whether you’re entering the adult, teenage or junior category (there are prizes for all)

3. Vote for the winning entries on the Blackhall Library Facebook page. The pics with the most likes win.

4. The closing date for entries is 14th December. So get busy.

Book Week Scotland artwork unveiled at Stockbridge Library

The waiting is over. Stockbridge Library’s special Book Week Scotland artwork was unveiled earlier today.

‘Under the Shy Moon’ was created by artist Rachel Barron and takes the form of a vinyl installation and geometric mobile, which is suspended from the beams within the library.

Image credit: Rob McDougall

Rachel explained:“Working directly with the architecture of the library, the installation has been made in response to Jackie Kay’s poem, which expresses the excitement and aspirations of an expectant mum. Inspired by astronomy and lunar cycles, the artwork represents the phases of our journey through life, using a gradient of colours. I am delighted to be part of the ‘Artworks for Libraries’ project, as it has allowed me to develop my work within a new context, towards my first permanent public artwork. It has been a pleasure to meet and work with the library community during the creative engagement workshops.”

The artwork was inspired by Dear Library, a poem written by best-selling Scottish author and playwright Jackie Kay as part of Book Week Scotland. Dear Library highlights the important role that libraries can play at every stage of an individual’s life, from childhood to old age. Rachel was given one verse of the poem to inspire her artwork, written from the perspective of an expectant mother. The full poem can be read on the Book Week Scotland website.

Councillor Richard Lewis, Convener for Culture and Sport at the City of Edinburgh Council said: “Thanks to Book Week Scotland, Stockbridge Library is now the proud home of Rachel Barron’s one-of-a-kind literary inspired artwork, which was developed with local children and their families. The library is a place anyone can visit freely, which means people across Edinburgh can stop by when they are in the area to take a look and enjoy the installation. We hope the artwork will entice people to visit  their local library and appreciate how much more there is to the surroundings and services.”

Stockbridge is the first of five Book Week Scotland artworks to be revealed this week, with Musselburgh, Saltcoats, Lennoxtown and Shetland due to be revealed over the next four days. Each artwork is inspired by a different verse of Dear Library and members of the communities have been given the opportunity to work with the artists during the creative process.