Of wild grandeur and simplicity: take a journey to the Nordic countries via 18th- and 19th-century travel books

Vikings sail stealthily into unsuspecting shores, their longships cutting through the water with ease. Saga characters recite poetry one day, carry out blood vengeance the next. Kings vie for power in their kingdoms, fighting fierce battles and sending warriors to Valhalla at the end of each struggle. Ice is everywhere, and the mountains tower ever higher with piling snow. This is the North.

Everyone has their own idea of the North, a mythic place where the life of the Middle Ages seems to still breathe in the landscape. Much of what we think of when we consider the North today – from Vikings to sagas to Old Norse mythology – is what 18th- and 19th-century travellers envisioned on their journeys. To them, the formidable northern landscape, largely untouched and filled with magnificent fjords and mountains and crags, seemed to carry this timeless medieval world throughout its rugged majesty.

We can journey to the North with travellers from centuries past through reading the books that record their travels. These books are the centre of the Central Library’s latest exhibition, ‘Of Wild Grandeur and Simplicity: Journeys to the Nordic Countries in 18th- and 19th-Century Travel Books’. This exhibition was curated by one of our postgraduate interns, Hailey Brock, from the Centre for the History of the Book at the University of Edinburgh. In these books, the travellers venture to the Nordic Countries—namely Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and the Faroes. There, they envision the Old North, and relive it in the beautiful setting.

You too can create your own vision of the North at this exhibition, which runs until 5 April 2019 on the Mezzanine Level at Central Library.

The ‘Of wild grandeur and simplicity’ exhibition is part of the Rare Books Edinburgh programme.

 

Top Ten eBooks

Ever wondered just what people read on our OverDrive eBook service? Well here’s the current top ten most popular online books with our readers –

Becoming by Michelle Obama

The biography from the former American First Lady is top of our charts.Looking like this is going to be our most popular ebook ever! Is also the most popular audiobook too (available through RBdigital).

 

Past Tense by Lee Child

Find out about Jack Reacher’s latest escapades. Our readers can’t get enough of Lee Child novels, which is why you’ll find 66 of his ebooks and audiobooks available on OverDrive. Also available on BorrowBox as audiobook.

 

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Winning prizes all over the place, this is the book of the moment. Follow the story of Connell and Marianne who grow up in a small town in rural Ireland and how their relationship effects their lives as they move in to adulthood. Audiobook also available on RBdigital.

 

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

THE book of 2018 – if you’ve not read it yet, then why?! Meet Eleanor who has learned how to survive – but not how to live and follow her as life comes knocking on her door. Also available on RBdigital as audiobook.

 

Mythos by Stephen Fry

A surprising, but enchanting hit in both ebook and audiobook format – Stephen Fry vividly retells the tales of the Greek Gods in an entertaining and enthusiastic manner.

 

 

This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay

This will make you laugh, it will also make you cry, but perhaps most importantly it will make you think. This diary of a junior doctor opens a window into the NHS from the other side and you’ll never think about it the same way again. Also available as audiobook on BorrowBox.

 

Milkman by Anna Burns

Another highly acclaimed novel, that tackles the Northern Ireland conflict from the perspective of an 18-year-old girl with no interest in the troubles, who’s aim is to stay as invisible as possible. As available on RBdigital as audiobook.

 

Transcription by Kate Atkinson

Another bestselling novel from one of Scotland’s top writers. In 1940, Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into MI5. After the war she presumes the events of those years are over, but soon learns that there are no actions without consequences. Also available on BorrowBox as audiobook.

 

The Little Cafe in Copenhagen by Julie Caplin

Glad to see our readers like a little light-hearted romance too!  Described as “Danish happiness and hygge in one un-put-down-able story” this is the perfect read for a chilly night.

 

 

The Subtle Art of not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

Well last in our line up is a self-help book with a difference (hence the title!). It’s a much-needed grab you by the shoulders and look you in the eye moment of real-talk, filled with entertaining stories and profane, ruthless humour. Available on OverDrive as ebook and audiobook..

 

So surprised at our top ten? Or hopefully impressed by the great choice of acclaimed and popular titles available now to download! Access these titles from our Libby or OverDrive apps or the OverDrive website. Full instructions for using our ebook service can be found at www.edinburgh.gov.uk/overdrive.

Mary Queen of Scots documents at the Museum of Edinburgh: The daily business of being Queen

Vicky Garrington, History Curator at Museums & Galleries Edinburgh, has created the latest exhibition on Capital Collections. We invited her to tell us about this very special collection of documents:

“A group of documents believed to have been signed by Mary Queen of Scots have recently come to light at the Museum of Edinburgh. Although information about them was held on file, they were lost in storage before being unearthed during recent inventory and conservation work. After decades spent unseen, they have been photographed ready to share on Capital Collections.

Document dated 1553, signed by James, Duke of Chastlerault, stating that Mary Queen of Scots has gifted a portion of the sands at Leith for the building of a bulwark.

The beautifully handwritten documents, carefully dated, numbered and signed, relate to the busy commercial life of Edinburgh during the 16th century. Papers covering markets and the selling of meat sit alongside permits for London salt sellers to operate in the City and for the building of a bulwark (defensive wall) at Leith. The documents date from 1553 to 1567 (Mary reigned in Scotland from 1542 to 1567), and are signed variously by Mary, her then husband James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, and James, Duke of Chastlerault.

Together, the documents shed light on a key part of Scotland’s past. We all know the tragic story of Mary Queen of Scots, her eventful life and eventual execution in 1587, but in these documents we see a different side to Mary. Here, she can be seen carefully managing the everyday affairs of Edinburgh, both from France and Scotland. It’s fascinating to think of her reading through these official papers before carefully applying her signature.

Detail view of signature of Mary Queen of Scots from a 1557 order relating to the privileges of fleshers

New information on the documents has come to light during the inventory and conservation process: two of the documents include watermarks in the paper which can only be seen when they are held up to the light. One features a goat, the other a hand holding a flower. This discovery shows how our museum objects can keep teaching us things, revealing new secrets as we work with them.”

Visit Capital Collections to see the documents and read the daily business of being Queen.

ELISA Libraries Fair – Beyond the bookshelves

Central Library is delighted to be hosting the Edinburgh Libraries and Information Services Agency (ELISA) Libraries Fair on the mezzanine level on Saturday 23 March, 1.30 – 4pm.

Come along and find out about the wide and diverse array of libraries in Edinburgh and to discover how you can get an ELISA library passport to enable you to gain access to these other libraries across Edinburgh.

There are many different libraries in Edinburgh and the Libraries Fair invites you to meet representatives from a range of libraries all under one roof. Libraries taking part include:
Edinburgh City Libraries
Edinburgh Zine Library
French Institute Library
National Library of Scotland
Royal Botanic Garden Library and Archive
Scottish Poetry Library
University of Edinburgh including the Centre for Research Collections.

There will be a free (but ticketed) family-friendly storytelling session with Janis Mackay, live music, a mini drop-in zine workshop and badgemaking.

Come along, enjoy the fun and discover what our city’s world of libraries has to offer!

 

Photography exhibition in Central Library

The March exhibition in the Art and Design Library is a group show from the photography collective, Edinburgh LoFi.  The exhibition is titled Almanac and features a wide range of photography using traditional, alternative and lomographic photographic processes.  The exhibition runs from Saturday 2nd – 29th March.

The theme of the exhibition, Almanac, refers to how events gone by in past years herald those forthcoming in the new. In the exhibition, Edinburgh LoFi’s members record the weather, tides, star paths, seasonal events of the past calendar and personal journeys.

The Edinburgh LoFi group was started nine years ago at the Beyond Words photography bookshop in Berwick to promote and explore film photography. They experiment with and utilise many different formats including pinhole cameras, cyanotypes, salt printing and much more. The group meets once a month to share their photography experiences, run events, hold workshops and plan exhibitions. New members are welcome, and meetings are free to attend. Details are on their website http://www.edinburghlofi.com/

 

Read Your Free Daily Newspaper

Most people have a smartphone, tablet, or computer these days. One of the best uses you can put it to is accessing your daily newspaper for free. Edinburgh Libraries PressReader service has over 3000 full-spread online newspapers from all over the world, including 350 UK papers. Use your library card and PIN to login to the app or website from anywhere and read up to 20 newspapers a day for free.

 

 

Read today’s Scottish Daily Mail, Edinburgh Evening News, Scotsman, Guardian, Herald or The Edinburgh Reporter amongst hundreds of others.

 

As an added bonus you’ll find thousands of magazines available too so whether you’re in to cars or cookery, computers or crafts you’ll find a wide range of magazines to suit you.

 

Find full instructions for getting started at our Your Library website.

 

Panorama print goes on display

Thanks to the generous support of Edinburgh Old Town Association, a long ignored panorama of ‘Edinburgh and the surrounding countryside from Calton Hill’ has again found a home in the Edinburgh and Scottish Collection of Central Library.

The print depicts the view seen from Calton Hill in the 1820s and highlights points of interest.  Measuring more than 6ft in length it is full of detail not only of the architecture and town planning, but of the many people who used Calton Hill as a viewpoint.

Cleo Jones, Schools and Lifelong Learning Strategic Officer accepts a cheque from Barbara Logue, Convenor of Edinburgh Old Town Association.

Remounted and framed by Edinburgh Arts we hope many of our visitors from both near and far will appreciate seeing such a charming and informative image of Edinburgh.

Members of the Edinburgh Old Town Association who attended the presentation:
Naomi Richardson, Vice Convenor ; Rosemary Mann, Treasurer; Eric Drake, Newsletter Editor; Laura Harrington, Membership Secretary; Kate Marshall, committee member.