Vitruvius Scoticus – a Scottish classic from our special collections

We’re celebrating our architectural collections in VisitScotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016.

In the 1720s foremost Scottish architect of his time, William Adam (1689-1748) started planning his publication of Vitruvius Scoticus. He aimed to present a collection of architectural drawings illustrating examples of his own classical building style and that of his contemporaries.

Vitruvius Scoticus was started and named in response to the Scottish architect and architectural writer Colen Campbell’s Vitruvius Britannicus published 1715-1725. Vitruvius Scoticus was finally published in 1812 by William Adam’s grandson William Adam of Blair Adam (1751-1839), and contains 160 plates, including 100 of Adam’s own designs.

DSC_3332 copy

William Adam was the leading architect in Scotland, designing and building numerous country houses and public buildings during the early C18th.

Among his best known works are Hopetoun House near Edinburgh, and Duff House in Banff. His individual, exuberant style built on the Palladian style, but with Baroque details inspired by Vanbrugh and Continental architecture.

Vitruvius Scoticus continues to remain a reference for many an architect and architectural historian documenting the early development of a classical style in Scotland.

DSC_3349 copy

To request to view Vitruvius Scoticus email or tel 0131 242 8040 – appointments only.

A facsimile copy of Vitruvius Scoticus is also available to consult in the Art & Design Library without an appointment.

For more information on William Adam search the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

All that jazz and blues!

With the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival running 15-24 July 2016 the Music Library is enjoying all things jazz.

Display of Library material
Whether your tastes are 1920s traditional jazz or the cutting edge of contemporary musicians, the Music Library can satisfy your interests with CDs, DVDs, sheets music, biographies of your favourite musicians, and books on the history of jazz and blues. View just some of our material to get your interests going.  We’re showcasing some of our stock on offer in a special display alongside archive material from the Edinburgh Jazz Archive located in the Music Library.

Andrew Lauder playing trumpet

Andrew Lauder on trumpet

This year’s festival is committed to showcasing new talent and will be introducing audiences to some of the rising stars alongside established names. Listen to many of these names – new and old – on the go, at home, or in the Music Library with Naxos Music Library Jazz music streaming service – all you need is a library card.

Which online newspaper and magazine service should you use?

One of the many benefits of having a library card is getting free access to hundreds of newspapers and magazines through web sites and apps including Zinio, PressReader, International Newsstand and Library PressDisplay.

But which one should you use? Our quick guide will help you decide which suits your needs best.


This is by far the most popular of our services, and if you’re not already using it, why not?

Download the app on your phone or tablet to download as many magazines as you like, with over 100 titles to choose from including New Scientist, Good Housekeeping and BBC Good Food Magazine.

You can download back issues as well as the current copy, and you can keep them as long as you like. No wonder it’s so popular!


Very similar to Zinio, but with a couple of significant differences:

First, there’s much more on offer as PressReader also includes newspapers – you can choose from over UK and Irish titles and hundreds more from around the world. There are also more titles aimed at a younger readership (e.g. Commando, The Beano) and more Scottish content (e.g. Scottish Field, The Scots Magazine).

The other main difference from Zinio is that you can only download these titles for free from a PressReader HotSpot. The good news is that every one of our 26 libraries is a PressReader HotSpot, and you can download up to twenty titles a day!

Library PressDisplay

This site contains all the same content as PressReader, but you don’t have to be in a HotSpot to use it. As long as you’ve got your library card number you can use it anywhere. The only drawback is that you can’t download the titles so have to read them online. Today’s newspapers though are available before they even reach the newsagents.

International Newsstand

Unlike PressReader and PressDisplay, which have an archive going back 3 months for most newspapers, International Newsstand’s goes back around 20 years.

With global coverage and sophisticated search options, including the ability to save and export searches and results, this is by far your best bet if you’re looking to do more serious research.

And if historical research is your thing, don’t forget library members also get free access to The British Newspaper Archive,  The Times Digital Archive and The Scotsman Digital Archive as well!

Hope that’s cleared things up for you!



Every picture tells a story – Bill Hall’s Family Album

Many of us have photo albums at home; possibly passed on from other members of the family all packed with photographs of loved ones at various stages in their lives.

While researching the Union Canal for an Our Town Story, we contacted Bill Hall who had a fantastic photograph of a relative that we wanted to use. During our conversation, he happened to mentioned that he had many others spreading right across his family, also a photo album packed full of photographs, would we be interested in seeing them?

The images in the album, date from the early 1900s through to the 1970s covering various events along the way.

There are studio portraits, very popular in the days before most families had their own cameras, everyone posing in their ‘Sunday best’.  Informal photographs of days at the seaside and outings on steamboats down the Clyde.

Margaret and Willie McCubben

Margaret and Willie McCubben, relatives on Bill’s mother’s side

Several of the photos show one member of the family, Archie Tait, a former ploughman at Wilkie’s Basin near Ratho. Archie had joined Edinburgh City Police in 1914 before enlisting with the army in 1915. He and his two cousins became Lovat Scouts which in 1916 became the British Army’s first sniper unit, then known as sharpshooters.  All three survived the war and Archie returned to the police force as a mounted policeman.

Archie Tait with Peter and Andrew Clark his cousins

Archie Tait (Bill’s great-great-uncle) with his cousins, Peter and Andrew Clark

An historical moment was captured and put in the album – the Airship R101’s endurance trial voyage which flew over Edinburgh on 17th November 1929.  The R101 was one of a pair of British Airships that were built as part of a British government programme to develop civil airships capable of service on long-distance routes within the British Empire. The trial flight flew over the North of England to Edinburgh and Glasgow and then over the Irish Sea to Dublin.

R 101 Airship over Edinburgh rooftops

R 101 Airship over Edinburgh rooftops

Like many family albums, there are photographs of people that no one recognises. Most get thrown away for that reason, but more often than not, they are kept in the hope that someone will eventually say…”oh, that’s Aunty so and so”. Bill can’t help us with this one below, but it is a great example of the type of prop that many studio photographers used for family portraits in Edwardian times. Backdrops and objects were used to create illusions, days at the sea side, or in this case a family on a drive in the countryside.

Unidentified family

Unidentified family

In Bill’s album a few pages have the photos removed, maybe lost over the years or perhaps given to other members of the family; all that’s left are the photo corners showing where they once were.

Browse all the wonderful pictures from Bill Hall’s family album on Capital Collections.

Myplace: Edinburgh Competition Winners

The judging panel had the very difficult task of choosing 3 winners from nearly 100 fantastic competition entries for Myplace: Edinburgh, part of the celebration of the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016.

The combination of photograph and the memory it evoked made these 3 entries the winners.

You can see all the entries on Edinburgh Collected

First Prize – Granton Pier

Photograph of Granton Pier

by arghnothingworks

‘As someone born in Edinburgh there are many places that I have wonderful memories that I cherish.

One place stands out above all of those. Granton. While it’s not a spectacular towering monolith or an aging building featured in tour guides, it is a special and unique part of Edinburgh.

This place is special to me because it reminds me of spending time with my father and uncle. Waking up early and walking down to the harbour as a boy. Hopping and walking down the pier taking care not to lose my footing on the quarry rock. Placing our small radio down and learning to cast a fishing rod. Wearing my gloves and hat when it got chilly and walking back tired to the bus stop.

It’s been years since my father passed away and many more since I’ve been fishing. I was overjoyed to see that even at night people still enjoy going down to the pier to fish. While it may seem a small part of everyday life, these people are undoubtably crafting memories that they will one day look back on remembering the good and the bad.

I still have those precious memories of walking down the pier with my father. Hopefully I’ll never lose those, and hopefully this will always be a place I can go to relive those memories.’

Second Prize – Sunset at Portobello Beach

Portobello Beach

by createdeye

‘I don’t think there’s a better place in Edinburgh to watch the sunset than Portobello Beach. It’s peaceful, calm and there are usually not many people around. And when the sunset is like this, well, what more can you say?’

Third Prize – Rush hour

Photograph of Scottish Parliament and Dynamic earth

by Mrgu82

‘Arthur Seat has always been a place for me to get away from the fast pace of city life.’

Prizes are kindly donated by the Festival of Architecture 2016 and are awarded for  1st prize (£200),  2ndprize (£100)  and  3rd prize (£50).

You can still visit Edinburgh’s Pavilion at the Cities Expo part of the year long Festival at the Mound until Sunday 17 July.





Isla enjoys her week in the Music Library

From the 27th to the 30th of June 2016 I went on a work experience placement at the Music Library at Central Library. I chose this location as I am interested in music (I am studying Advanced Higher Music next year in S6) and I was interested in seeing how the library system works.  Whilst I was at the Music Library, I did several tasks, ranging from setting up a display on jazz to promote the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival to finding books and CDs for readers, and discharging and shelving books. I saw round the many departments in Central Library. It was interesting to see the variety of tasks done by Music Library and other staff in Central Library. This made my work experience placement very enjoyable and it also made me consider working in a library in the future.

Putting up Library display
I found some materials in the Music Library which I thought could be useful to students who are studying for Higher and Advanced Higher Music; there are many books on composers and the history of music, which could provide information to use in written projects. If students need sheet music of an appropriate standard (i.e. Grade 4 or Grade 5 level) for the Performance part of Higher and Advanced Higher Music, there are many scores available in the Music Library for various instruments.

Looking at Library books

There’s a piano in the Music Library which students can use if they need to practise. Finally, the online classical music streaming website Naxos, which is accessible via the Edinburgh Libraries website, can be used for listening to different styles and periods of classical music. This could be useful for listening practice in preparation for the final written exam.

I also came across helpful resources for Higher and Advanced Higher languages on the Edinburgh Your Library website;  Library card holders can read international newspapers in 60 different languages with Library PressDisplay and learn words and phrases in various languages with Transparent Language Online. provides information on how to use languages and aspects of language correctly.

Many students may not be aware that these study resources are available, and all that is required to access them is just a library card.

Free CBBC family event at Craigmillar Library!

There’s two action-packed days of activities and live talks celebrating Awesome Authors coming this weekend at Craigmillar Library.

Craigmillar is one of the libraries partnering with CBBC and BBC Learning with the aim to get children excited about reading, creative writing and storytelling.

Come along and hear awesome authors talking about their writing, some in the library and others streamed live from the Library of Birmingham. Come along and experience the Wolfblood storyteller and the Dangermouse Detective Hunt. You can also learn how to draw like your favourite top illustrator or improve your football skills with tips from professional coaches. The event will be hosted by Tyler West from CBBC’s MOTD Kickabout.

Join in the fun at Craigmillar Library on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th July, 10am – 5pm. (Children must be accompanied by an adult).