Looking for some holiday fun?

We’re all set for the Easter holidays.

There’s a Connect 4-themed reading challenge in South West Libraries and little green fingers will be busy gardening in the north of the city.

And of course we’ll have the usual mix of crafts, stories and other fun.

Take a look at our events calendar or check with your local library for details.

(Libraries will be closed Good Friday and Easter Monday but otherwise open  as normal)

Edinburgh Reads: Sally Magnusson

This is my story, but it could be anybody’s

Sally Magnusson ‘s ‘Where memories go’ , her account of her mother Mamie’s long struggle with dementia, was one of the most-borrowed books from Edinburgh Libraries last year.

So it was no surprise that the Reference Library was packed for last night’s talk by the author.

DSC_5587 - CopySally talked about how as a journalist she was used to flitting in and out of other people’s lives, rarely digging deeper before moving on.

But then, in the late nineties, her mother ‘started to ‘go off the boil’. As Sally put it, she ‘mislaid her curiosity’.

And so began the biggest story of Sally’s life. A story she had to share. Because by sharing something, we encourage people to talk about it. And talking about something drives away stigma.

Sally spoke lovingly of her mother Mamie’s life story and character, before going on to describe the effect that dementia had on her.

Sally was keen to stress some of the positives of her experience. Mamie was still able to enjoy times of great in-the-moment happiness, and this was something that Sally came to treasure, learning that living for the moment and experiencing ‘the best day of your life’ over and over can be something to celebrate.

Sally also spoke about the lessons she learned. She spoke about the value of community, and how keenly she felt a lack of guidance and reassurance. This goes back to what she had said earlier about the need to talk and share our experiences, and this has been the legacy of the book.

There are other reasons for optimism as well. Sally argued that we are slowly getting better at understanding dementia.

She spoke about the positive effect music can have, and her work with Playlist for Life, which seeks to create a personal playlist for anyone with dementia to help unlock who they are. This is similar in idea to the work libraries do in care homes with Read Aloud.

We are extremely grateful to Sally for taking the time to come and talk so eloquently – gratitude which will be shared by every member of last night’s audience.DSC_5575 - Copy

Reading well: recommended books on dementia

“Dementia is one of the greatest social, medical, economic, scientific, philosophical and moral challenges of our times.”

Sally Magnusson, author of ‘Where memories go: why dementia changes everything’

The Reading Agency have got together with health experts and people with lived experience to draw up a list of the most helpful books for people with dementia and the people around them.

The books are also an excellent starting point for anyone wanting to find out about the condition.

As well as information and practical advice the list of titles includes personal accounts, and suggestions for shared therapeutic activities.

These titles are available to borrow from libraries now. Reserve them online using your library card and PIN to collect at your nearest library.

“It is abundantly clear that with support and books presented in an accessible way, people with dementia can continue to learn and amongst their learning can be an empowerment to help themselves and others in a similar situation.”

Keith Oliver, former headteacher diagnosed with dementia in 2010.






Catherine Rayner and Reading Rainbows

Congratulations to author and illustrator Catherine Rayner who has just won the Peters’ picture book of the year award for Smelly Louie!

Catherine’s been  a great friend to Edinburgh Libraries, and recently helped Gracemount nursery pupils celebrate the start of this year’s Reading Rainbows at South Neighbourhood Office and Library.


She shared some stories before presenting each child with a gift book pack containing 2 picture books, a pen and pad and an activity leaflet.

This year, over 1000 4-year-olds across the city will get a free book pack and hopefully, take part in Reading Rainbows events in libraries and Early Years’ Settings.

McDonald Road Library temporary closure

McDonald Road Librarywill be closed from tomorrow (Monday 23 March) to Thursday 26 March (inclusive) for essential building work.

We apologise for any inconvenience.

Easter opening hours for libraries

Libraries will be closed on Good Friday and Easter Monday (3rd and 6th April).

Libraries will, however, be open as normal on Easter Saturday (4th April).

LIbrary information, including opening hours, can be found on the City of Edinburgh Council web site.

David Roberts: artist and adventurer

‘His pictures are determined to take your breath away. The artist tries every pictorial trick in the book, from the dramatically plunging perspective to the lonely ruin on a hill’  Waldemar Januszczak

Stockbridge-born artist and adventurer David Roberts is the subject of a current exhibition at the National Gallery of Scotland.

David Roberts by David Octavius Hill, 1847 www.capitalcollections.org.uk

David Roberts by David Octavius Hill, 1847 http://www.capitalcollections.org.uk

And to accompany the exhibition, here at the Fine Art Library we’re displaying material by and about Roberts including his magisterial volumes on ‘The Holy Land, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia’. (1842- 1849)

As Roberts’ entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography states:

He was the first independent, professional British artist to travel so extensively in the Near East… No publication before this had presented so comprehensive a series of views of the monuments, landscape, and people of the Near East. Roberts was to paint more oils of the East than of any other region he visited, exhibiting thirty-one at the Royal Academy alone. These received critical acclaim and sold for high prices.

The volumes will be on display until 31 March. And if you want to find out more about Roberts’ life and work we’ve put together some suggested reading material.