Tools out for summer!

Library users across Edinburgh can now pick up something a little different with their holiday reading. Thanks to the Edinburgh Tool Library, three libraries in the north of Edinburgh will soon host a ‘Tool Box’ – an extensive selection of tools available to borrow for an annual donation.

The Edinburgh Tool Library works exactly like a traditional library, except instead of books they have over 4000 tools to choose from. Since the Tool Library started in 2015, they have received donations of a wide range of power tools, hand tools, gardening gear and decorating kit. For the 800 members who have joined the Tool Library it has been of significant benefit to their pocket – and the planet!

The Tool Library are expanding their lending services to three libraries in the north of Edinburgh – Portobello, Piershill and Craigmillar. Each library will have its own fully equipped Tool Box, manned by a knowledgeable member of the Tool Library team ready to answer any questions you might have.

In addition to lending out tools, the Tool Library also undertakes numerous community projects, working with local people and groups to help them build the project of their dreams. Their Tools for Life programme offers mentorship opportunities to young people seeking employment. Working alongside retired professionals, participants get the chance to learn a wide range of joinery and craft skills.

The Tool Library welcomes donations of tools, used and new! They thoroughly check all tools to make sure they are in full working order before being lent out to members. They have a team of awesome volunteers and are always looking for people to join them! Whether you want to learn a new skill, or contribute one you already have, they can find a place for you in the team.

Joining the Tool Library is straightforward, and the annual membership fee is by donation – flexible depending on what you can afford. All members have access to the full range of tools and the fully-equipped wood-working workshop in Custom Lane in Leith. The Edinburgh Tool Library is a charitable organisation and any profits generated are fed back into their projects to enable them to help as many people and communities as possible.

Find the Edinburgh Tool Library at:
Portobello Library, Mondays at 4.30 – 7pm

From 15 August at Craigmillar Library, Tuesdays at 1 – 3.30pm
From 16 August at Piershill Library, Wednesdays at 4 – 6.30pm

If you have any questions, contact Anna at the Tool Library: anna@edinburghtoollibrary.org.uk

James Craig’s New Town

By the mid-1700s Edinburgh’s growing population was crammed into the tall, dark and insanitary tenements of the Old Town. The council wanted to improve living conditions and to encourage people with affluence and influence back to the city. Proposals were put forward to develop and expand Edinburgh to benefit the citizens, the city and Scotland. Part of the proposals demanded the upgrading of the Nor’ Loch in the valley beneath the castle, an expanse of water which had become a dumping place for all kinds of filth. The proposal suggested a canal with walks and terraces on either side but this was never realised. In 1759 the drainage of the Nor’ Loch began, and a couple of years later the Lord Provost laid the foundation stone of North Bridge paving the way for the city expansion to the north and improved connection with the port of Leith.

North Bridge, Edinburgh, 1809

Submissions were invited for a detailed plan which could interpret the proposals and envisage a new town on the grassy ridge to the north of the castle. Six submissions were received and the competition was won by the young and little-known architect, James Craig. After some alterations a final design was agreed by the town council in July 1767.

James Craig’s Plan of the new streets and squares intended for the City of Edinburgh

Craig’s plan was simple, geometric and spacious. It also symbolised the union of Scotland and England referencing the King, George III. Streets were named for him, his queen and his sons. The smaller back lanes were named after the national emblems of the two countries, rose and thistle. The plan included grand squares at either end of the George Street vista named in honour of each country’s patron saints with similarly named churches to be built facing each other. Castle Street would give a fantastic view to the castle, while Frederick and Hanover Streets again both referenced the royal family.

Craigleith Quarry supplied stone for the building works on Edinburgh’s New Town

In the end, George’s Square became Charlotte Square in honour of the queen and to prevent confusion with the newly built George Square near the university. The prime site allocated for the church at St Andrew Square was instead acquired by Sir Laurence Dundas, a wealthy landowner and businessman. His mansion, Dundas House would later become headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland. St Andrew’s Church, now known as St Andrew’s and St George’s West, instead opened at the east end of George Street in 1784 to meet the needs of the new residents of the New Town.

This first phase of the New Town was in place.

George Street, 1925

Two of Craig’s later greatest architectural achievements, the Physician’s Hall on George Street and St James Square at the east end of Princes Street have long since been demolished. After such initial promise, success eluded James Craig and he would die in 1895 insolvent and unknown.

In 2017 the 250th anniversary of James Craig’s plan, our latest exhibition on Capital Collections celebrates his visionary New Town plan for Edinburgh.

 

‘What if?’ Art Library exhibition for July 2017

The latest Art & Design Library exhibition poses the question, ‘What if?’

We know that homelessness is not inevitable. We know that together we can end it. In Crisis’ landmark 50th year, Art in Crisis considers the proposition ‘What If’ through the eyes of their clients, with pieces examining the past, considering the present and looking to the future.

To capture these symbolic images, Crisis clients and local photographer Alicia Bruce were inspired by classic Dutch still life paintings and still life photography.

The Art & Design Library exhibition forms part of Art in Crisis’ national programme of public events presenting compelling, original artwork made by artists experiencing homelessness.

‘What If?’ exhibition by Art in Crisis runs from 4 to 29 July 2017.

 

New St Andrews House

In the space of 47 years, a large part of Edinburgh’s city centre has changed not once but twice.

The area of Leith Street, St James Square and Greenside have managed to survive in name but the area is virtually unrecognisable to anyone over the age of 50.

Fairley’s Dance Hall, John Colliers, Burton’s, Hoy’s furniture store, The Top Story Club, The Register Tap bar and Jeromes photo studio are among some of the fondly remembered establishments to those of a certain generation.

New St Andrews House

Part of the first development of the St James Square area included New St Andrews House, completed in 1970 and occupied for the first time in 1974 by the former Scottish Office. It closed during 1995-96 and remained empty, partly due to the asbestos which had been used in its construction. As a concrete building in the Brutalist style, with cliff face elevations and unattractive fenestration, it faced substantial public opposition when it was first built, and continued to be a somewhat controversial development.

View from 5th Floor- New St Andrews House

The St James Centre complex is now in the process of demolition as part of a £850m redevelopment consisting of new shops, a public square, 2 hotels and new residential apartments.

Looking towards the Balmoral Hotel and Register House

While the New St Andrews House building was empty and awaiting demolition, we were allowed access to take photographs including seldom seen views of Edinburgh from its unique vantage point. There are views of the inside of the building that lay empty for more years than it was actually in use.

View from 1st Floor stairs towards entrance foyer

Visit Capital Collections to see the full New St Andrews House exhibition.

 

Art and Design Books of the Week

The Art & Design Library recommends some reading from their series of Books of the Week:

Australia’s Impressionists
Australia’s Impressionists focuses on the paintings of Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton, Charles Condor and John Russell.

This beautiful book challenges our preconceptions of what is meant by Impressionism, enriches our understanding of Australian art and reveals the international nature of art historical movements and exchanges in the nineteenth century. The story is framed by unmistakably Australian subjects and location, a preoccupation with light and colour, and the context of Australian identity and sense of nationhood.

The Global Contemporary
The Global Contemporary and the Rise of New Art Worlds documents the globalisation of the visual arts and the rose of the contemporary over the last twenty years. Lavishly illustrated, with colour throughout, it tracks developments ranging from exhibition histories and the rise of new art spaces to art’s branding in such emerging markets as Hong Kong and the Gulf States. Essays treat such subjects as curating after the global turn; art and the migration of pictures; the end of the canon; and new strategies of representation.

Jacob A. Riis: Photographer & Citizen
Riss’s images of the slums of New York have influenced every subsequent generation of photographers, while his insightful exploration of the problems of urban life continues to be education for societies around the world. I know of no contemporary work of this general character which gives such an impression of competence, integrity and intensity.

All items are available to loan. Reserve online or pop into Art & Design, Central Library to see what else is available.

Happy Birthday Harry Potter!

It’s hard to believe, but its 20 years since the first Harry Potter book was published. On 26 June 2017 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone celebrates its 20th anniversary, having sold over 450 million copies worldwide in 79 languages. We would like you to join us in celebrating this special occasion!

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone eBook will be available for unlimited access through our OverDrive ebook service between 26 June and 9 July. Everyone will be able to borrow the title simultaneously during this period with no reservations required.

All seven Harry Potter books are available on our OverDrive site in both ebook and audiobook format. You’ll also find spin-off titles such as Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and The Hogwarts Collection. So why not re-read these special books or get hooked on Harry for the first time!

Summer Reading Challenge

The Summer Reading Challenge has arrived!  The challenge for children aged 5-12 is to read six books over the school holidays. The theme is Animal Agents – who are investigating strange goings on in the library! Children collect stickers as they go and help crime busting creatures solve the clues to reveal the mystery!

On successfully completing the challenge, children receive a certificate and a gold medal!! There are also some excellent prizes on up for grabs this year including Dynamic Earth family passes, astronomy evenings at the Royal Observatory and Edinburgh Leisure passes, with more to be confirmed.

Pop into your local library and sign up to join in the fun. Borrow some animal agents themed books whilst you are there or any book you like. You can also find out what children’s activities will be taking place over the summer in your library whilst you are there. As well as borrowing books from the library you can even download some of our children’s ebooks and audiobooks to join in with the fun. Check out our Summer Reading Challenge collection on our OverDrive Kids site.

The Animal Agents adventure starts on the 23 June and runs until 27 August.