Art makes us with Art Buds Collective

Edinburgh Libraries are teaming up with Edinburgh Art Festival to host art workshops for children this August delivered by Art Buds Collective.

Inspired by the diverse wildlife, histories and geographies of the Union Canal, we’ll use art to imagine a more planet friendly future.

Free artist-led workshops for children and families across the city – and on the water – will take you on a journey filled with sensory fun and big environmental questions. Use your creativity to rethink local green spaces and waterways and dream up a better world. Get set for adventures – exploring sound, movement, sculpture and sustainable art-making.
Book for these workshops via edinburghartfestival.com.

Art Buds workshop, Edinburgh Art Festival 2021. Photo: Sally Jubb

Shapes in the city – invent, construct, climb!
Make huge, recycled sculptures inspired by bridges, tunnels and waterways! Created for ages 5 – 12. Parents of under 8s must book a place.

Tuesday 2 August, 10.30am – 12.30pm
Central Library, George IV Bridge, EH1 1EG (SOLD OUT)

Tuesday 9 August, 10.30am – 12.30pm
Fountainbridge Library, 137 Dundee St, EH11 1BG

Friday 19 August, 1pm – 3pm
Wester Hailes Library, 1 Westside Plaza, EH14 2ST

Sounds in the city  – listen, sculpt, get noisy!
Make sound sculptures in the garden, give a noisy performance, then finish with homemade pizza! Created for ages 4 – 8 and their families.

Friday 12 August, 11am – 1pm, Johnston Terrace Wildlife Garden, Johnston Terrace, EH1 2JT, limited access

Wonder on the water – investigate, make, fly your flag!
Set sail on a boat along the canal as we create maps and flags inspired by the history of our waterways. You might even spot some wildlife! Created for ages 4 – 10 and their families.

Friday 5 August, 3 – 5pm, departs from Union Canal at Leamington Lift Bridge, Leamington Road, EH3 9PD, wheelchair friendly and toilet onboard

Book your free tickets at Edinburgh Art Festival. To discuss access requirements, please contact learning@edinburghartfestival.com

Art Buds Collective is a social enterprise dedicated to the delivery of sustainable arts education for children across Edinburgh. Creativity, the creative journey and protecting the planet are at the heart of their workshops. Follow Art Buds Collective on Instagram at @art_buds_collective

Extra, extra! Read all about it!

Everyone likes a good story, right? Well, how would you like to have access to over 50 million, yes million, pages of newspaper stories?

One of our online resources, the British Newspaper Archive celebrated publishing it’s 50 millionth page a couple of months ago, so already that figure has been surpassed.

We’ve been delving in and finding some articles that are close to home. The Royal Highland Show celebrates its 200th year later this week and we’ve managed to find an article of the very first show which was held in 1822 in the grounds of Queensberry House in the Canongate. It describes the “Fat Stock Show” where between sixty and seventy fine cattle were exhibited on a day when the weather was “most favourable”.

The Scotsman 28th December 1822

In a couple of months, the Edinburgh Festival will be with us again, and when searching for the very first Festival in 1947, we came across a picture of the city in preparation for the event showing city gardeners putting finishing touches to the clock at the West End of Princes Street.

So why not have a look and see what you can find? After all, there’s over 50 million pages of historic newspapers from all over Britain and Ireland to explore!

British Newspaper Archive is available to search for free from within any of our libraries.

The Central Library Children’s Art Club is back!

Are you aged 8-12 years old? Do you like to make things?
If so, then please be in touch! Send us an email at:
central.artanddesign.library@edinburgh.gov.uk
or give us a ring on 0131 242 8040.

We’re hoping to restart the sessions on a fortnightly basis, provisionally on a Saturday morning from 10.30am – 12pm at the Central Library.
Term-time sessions to begin on the 10 September 2022.

Our plans are for a free programme of creative play and learning – a time to explore art-making – build curiosity, kindness, and wellbeing – and hopefully foster an ever more creative relationship with the world around us.

We look forward to hearing from you!

We’re also running three summer workshops at the beginning of July:

5 July, 2 – 4pm – Printmaking with paper: the seashore!

6 July, 2 – 4pm – Constructing castles: modelmaking with recycled materials

7 July, 2 – 3.15pm – Funky plant pot découpage

Please book a free place online for these summer sessions via www.edinburghreads.eventbrite.co.uk.
If you have any queries, please contact the Art and Design Library by phone on 0131 242 8040 or email central.artanddesign.library@edinburgh.gov.uk

We Make Music Instrument Libraries

We’re delighted to be part of We Make Music Instrument Libraries, a brand new initiative to get musical instruments into public libraries across Scotland.

People will be able to borrow an instrument for free, just like taking out a book. The programme is in libraries in Fife, North Ayrshire and Edinburgh, and across other areas in future. In Edinburgh, there will be six libraries taking part covering different areas of the city: Craigmillar, Drumbrae, Moredun, Muirhouse, Wester Hailes and the Music Library at Central Library.

The libraries will stock a wide variety of instruments from guitars, keyboards and ukuleles, to violins, trombones and orchestral instruments, as well as music software and midi keyboards so people can make music on library computers. Each library is paired with a local music project or the local authority’s instrumental music service, and all of the libraries are keen to build links with other local music groups, schools, community projects and venues. 

The project has launched a crowdfunding campaign, with a call-out for donations of both money and musical instruments, to help fill the libraries with as many musical instruments and learning resources as possible. All money will go towards buying, repairing and servicing donated instruments so they are in good condition for the libraries, as well as music software and midi keyboards for making music on library computers. They also want to offer music workshops and introductory lessons, develop online resources and organise live music events in and around the libraries. The more money raised, and the more instruments people donate, the more new music libraries will open up around Scotland!

If you want to give your old musical instrument a new lease of life by donating it to the We Make Music Instrument Libraries project, please email Diane.Yule@edinburgh.gov.uk

Edinburgh shops remembered

Everyone has a favourite lost shop, one that they remember fondly, but is no longer there. Maybe you have childhood memories of visiting Jenners at Christmas time and gazing upward to the massive Christmas tree that looked like it would poke through the roof.

Ground Floor sales department, Grays of George Street

Many of us can recall spending our pocket money buying pick ‘n’ mix in Woolworth’s and those of a certain age still talk affectionally of visiting the aviary on top of Goldberg’s. Perhaps you remember Grays of George Street or can still reel off your mother’s or grannie’s ‘divi’ number…?

St Cuthbert’s horse-drawn van -1918

In our latest offering on Our Town Stories you can step back and enjoy some of these shops and businesses that were scattered throughout Edinburgh. Some of the images are from a time when a trip to the shop was visiting the horse-drawn van that would come round on certain days of the week!

Explore Edinburgh shops remembered on Our Town Stories and see how many you recall.

Make Music Day 2022

Way back in 2019, Central Library put together a programme of interesting and talented local musicians for the Make Music Day celebrations of that year. We had groups in our Lending department and on the Mezzanine in our Music Library. We reflected at the end of the day about how we could grow on this success and how do we encourage our groups to come back and new performers to join us?

Then we went into the two Covid-filled years we have just had.

We, with the rest of the world, went online and put together programmes to be part of the day. In 2021, our online programme included original music for flute and piano, 3 local choirs, a film premiere and a performance of “Stand By Me” by members of staff – not to be missed!

This year, and my fingers are still crossed, we are back in the building and able to have a programme of live music with performances starting at midday and going on till 6pm.

Craigmillar, McDonald Road and Stockbridge Libraries are also hosting performances on Tuesday 21 June.

For the Central Library programme, we start our day by welcoming back the group who opened our programme in 2019, The Rolling Hills Chorus.

The Rolling Hills Chorus in May at the UK Barbershop Championship

Expect a superb programme of close harmony, a capella favourites from film, musical, folk and pop. The Rolling Hills Chorus are a busy group. This will be the first of two appearances on Make Music Day, as they have their own show in the evening, which I am sure they will mention.

Some quotes –
‘Fantastic show… Heart warming and uplifting’
‘Definitely feel-good 100% Distilled Harmony!’
‘The Rolling Hills Chorus just keeps getting better and this 5th Fringe appearance is a triumph!’
‘Wonderful Scottish songs sung in beautiful harmony’
‘My friend was so moved by “My Homeland” it gave her goosebumps!’

Two members of staff from the Music team, Michalina Pawlus and Fernando Bijos, have been working on a “jam” session for anyone to join in on. The session will feature new tunes by Fernando and Michalina and some jazz standards. If you have a few minutes to spare and your instrument and you are in the area, come and join the session at 12.45pm on the Mezzanine.

Another group returning to the library, are the artists formally known as “Play it again, Tam”. Now called Drookit they will be playing their folk-based selections in the Lending Library. Drookit members initially came together in a Scots Music Group, mixed instrument ensemble, playing distinctive folk tunes chosen and arranged by Sarah Northcott.

The six-piece band was created after the musicians performed in the 2018 “Big Tune Machine”, an Edinburgh Festival event organised by fiddler Amy Geddes and guitarist Donald Knox.

Drookit

We are thrilled to welcome musicians from the Tinderbox Collective to Central Library for the first time.

Tinderbox Collective

Tinderbox will be represented for this performance by some of their eclectic young talented players from this growing collective of musicians and artists. Edinburgh Libraries are pleased to be in partnership with the Tinderbox collective for their “We Make Musical Instrument Libraries” initiative, in which they will house musical instruments in various Libraries around Edinburgh and other towns and cities around Scotland.

Some quotes on Tinderbox Collective projects:
“Rave Culture meets last night of the Proms”, The Herald
“A trip on a grand, ambitious and stimulating scale”, The Scotsman
“Makes the consequences of globalisation personal, it’s impressively powerful stuff”, The Scotsman
“A spectacular modern band”, The Guardian
“An unusual and curious idea, this is a meeting of cultures that typifies the spirit of the Fringe”, Broadway Baby
“Clashes cultures on very personal and emotive footing”, **** fest
“A musical tour de force… This Tinderbox has already kindled something that dazzles”, The List

We are also pleased to say a big hello to the Edinburgh Mandolin and Guitar Orchestra in their first of hopefully many, visits to Central Library. EMGO’s programme will draw from their wide repertoire of musical genres, from classics to pop, baroque to bebop and striding across continents along the way.

Edinburgh Mandolin and Guitar Orchestra

Tenement Jazz Band are also making their first appearance in the library and we hope not their last. In their brief history they have played in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Dundee and as part of Glasgow Jazz Festivals, and performed their own hit show on the Edinburgh Fringe telling the story of the ‘Red Hot Roots of Jazz’ from turn of the century New Orleans and beyond.

Tenement Jazz Band

Some quotes:
“Brings a freshness and energy of youth to New Orleans style traditional jazz whilst also staying true to the original style”, Ron Simpson, The Jazz Rag, May 2019
“They’ve done their homework… The results are rich and multi-layered”, Joe Bebco, Associate Editor of The Syncopated Times. 

Bringing our day to a close, but not Make Music Day, are the Edinburgh Police Choir. Formed in 2008, as the Lothian and Borders Police Choir and then expanded to include members of the other emergency services and their family and friends, now the Edinburgh Police Choir has developed into a truly community choir. They have performed at the Royal Albert Hall for a concert in aid of Care of Police Survivors, at the Sage in Gateshead as part of Sky Arts Project and at Edinburgh’s St Giles Cathedral for a National Emergency Services Day event.     

Edinburgh Police Choir

Our Libraries around the city are hosting events and performances. Craigmillar Library has a busy day with performances starting at 10.30am in the morning with players from Castlebrae Community Campus followed throughout the day by programmes of guitar music by three very different performers, David Price, Danielo Olivara and Raymond Charles.

The Nelson Hall in McDonald Road Library will resound to the sound of music with the indie feminist punk band Suffrajitsu.

Our colleagues at Stockbridge Library will host performances form mezzo-soprano Ana Filogonio and from accordionist, Linda Campbell. 

All the music performances in Edinburgh Libraries will take place during the day, except for McDonald Road Library, where Suffrajitsu are due to play in the evening.

Wherever you spend 21 June, spend it musically! Make Music Day is a celebration of music, all events are free and open to the public. That is the same for all the events in the library service.

All of the events for Make Music Day for the Libraries, for Edinburgh and for the UK are listed on the Make Music Day website.

Don’t forget to follow Central Library on the day for coverage of all the musical happenings on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

The Learning Professional Award 2022 goes to…

We were delighted when our colleague Julie Sutherland, librarian at Forrester High School, was announced the winner of this year’s Scottish Book Trust Learning Professional Award. We asked Julie to tell us all about it –

“It was completely unexpected when I received a call from the Scottish Book Trust earlier this year to say that I had won the Learning Professional Award. I had absolutely no idea that my colleague Lindsay Craik-Collins, CL of English and Media at Forrester High School, had put my name forward. You don’t expect that. She took the time to chat with pupils who regularly use the library outside of class time and I am led to believe that it was their comments that swung the vote my way.

It’s hard to imagine the effect you can have on a young person, but they are the ones that make my day. They challenge and invigorate me and there is no better way to start the day than chatting to a bunch of teenagers. Every morning we have a Card & Chat Club in the library before school starts. It gets VERY loud as we’re all a bit competitive and there is nothing they like more than making me pick up cards, and which occasionally results in a victory lap of the library!

Two of the lads Mrs Craik-Collins spoke to have been playing cards with me since they came to school in S1 and you can see them in the fantastic Scottish Book Trust film which announced the award at the end of this article. They did so well in their interviews and I’m incredibly proud of them. We had really missed Card & Chat Club when restrictions after school returned post-pandemic, initially prevented us from playing. Very soon we will be inviting our new S1s to join in the fun!

No Librarian is an island, and everything I do is possible because I’m part of a team, or really, lots of teams; working with pupils and teachers to understand what needs they have of the library and how I can help them best, developing citywide initiatives with librarians from other schools and community branches in Edinburgh and seeking help across the UK on the School Librarian Network Yahoo Group. I rely heavily on the knowledge and support of my colleagues, and I can do the things I do in school because of these fantastic teams and in my heart this award is for all of them. I’m a bit nosey, to be honest, and I love being the chair of Cilips East Branch because it gives me the chance to network with all kinds of libraries and their amazing staff. I love visiting them (we call this library bagging – a term coined by Cilips Central Branch – just think libraries instead of Munro’s) and sharing, then pinching, ideas that I can bring back to school. We’ve been to some amazing places that are right on our doorstep, everything from the Tool Library to the Library of Mistakes, including a professional peek behind the scenes at the Museum of Childhood’s library stores… then further afield to Prestonpans and Dunfermline Libraries. Library staff have great chat and love showing off their collections!

I’m not very good at looking back and giving myself a pat on the back for something well done, because I’m already thinking about the next thing I have planned. I get bored really easily, so am always looking for something a little bit different to try, whether it’s a course in graphic novels, ways to diversify the collection or a new reading initiative.

I hope that this award will illuminate the positive effect school libraries and librarians can have on a young person’s life. It’s not just about developing literacy and a love for reading, that’s really important, of course, but it’s also about the whole person and being there for every young person that needs your support.

So, who knows what is around the next corner, I have several cunning plans brewing and am keeping my options open and my eyes scanning the horizon, the next conversation in the library or email from a colleague could start something really interesting…”

Congratulations Julie! Watch this wonderful Scottish Book Trust film to find out what made Julie’s nomination stand out –

Empathy Day

Research shows that only ten percent of empathy is genetic, the rest is learned as we move through the world interacting with others, either in person or through the written word which allows us to literally experience the world as another person. One of the wonders of the library, is all the people you can become. Choose one book and you are an explorer, charting new territories, another and you are a servant in the household of the Bennett sisters. Although you do not feel the peril, the fear, the day-to-day life as if you were living it, researchers at The University of Toronto have discovered that there is some correlation in reading and experience; the parts of your brain related to running wakes up when you read about someone running, just as your grasping reflex turns on when you read of a character reaching for a light.

Empathy Day, founded in 2017, aims to promote empathy through reading. Though the day is mainly aimed at children and young adult readers (with excellent lists where authors recommend books which promote empathy) in Central Library we have widened the remit, with staff looking at adult fiction, non-fiction and children’s books which have increased their empathy, teaching them what it is like to be someone else.

Doris, Library Advisor at Central Lending and Children’s recommends All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Focusing on the themes of loss, bravery, resilience and kindness, this Pulitzer Prize winning novel tells the story of Marie-Laure, a blind girl who lives with her father and great uncle in Nazi occupied France. The other main character is Werner, a German boy who has grown up in an orphanage with his sister Jutta. Werner is a genius with electricals who attracts the attention of the Hitler Youth.

Frederick, “a reedy boy, thin as a blade of grass, skin as pale as cream”, is another character that readers will empathise with. The fact that he feels he has no agency in his life is heartbreaking. His friendship with Werner is tenderly written and there’s the constant fear that something terrible will happen at their military school.

All the Light We Cannot See is full of haunting three-dimensional characters, with many trying to do good in a terrifying world.

All the Light We Cannot See is available to borrow in print, ebook, audiobook or as a talking book.

Ania, Library Advisor at Central Lending and Children’s selects two books: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and Oscar and the Lady in Pink by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt
Oscar and the Lady in Pink is told from the perspective of a 10-year-old Oscar through his letters to God. He is only ten years old and dying of leukaemia. He has been living in a hospital for a very long time feeling lonely, isolated, and unhappy. His parents, who bring him gifts and surely love him, are uncomfortable during their infrequent visits and have a very little connection with their dying son. They feel hopeless and distant as they avoid the subject of his imminent death.

Things change when Granny Rose, a hospital volunteer, enters Oscar’s life. She brings honesty, warmth and comfort to his life and is the only person willing to listen to Oscar’s questions about death.

My other choice, The Little Prince, I believe, is teaching us the secret of what is really important in life. One of the most significant sentences of the book: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye” summarises the main message of the story. The importance of looking beneath the surface to find the real truth and meaning.  

The author, rightly, argues that we often see more clearly if we look with empathy (the heart) than if we look with the eye.

The Little Prince is available to borrow as a picture book, print, ebook, audiobook and DVD.

Hope, Library Advisor at Central Lending and Children’s chooses Hard Pushed, a Midwife’s Story by Leah Hazard
The astounding thing about medical memoirs is how practising doctors, nurses and midwifes find the time to write them. Leah Hazard left her career as a journalist to study midwifery after the traumatic birth of her first child, and the less traumatic birth of her second. Throughout the first it was the kindness of midwifes and doctors which made all the difference as she “failed to progress in labour” ending up with an emergency Caesarean.

In Hard Pushed, Hazard tells of the huge and tiny ways she seeks to make a difference to a patient, from cleaning a wound and listening to a woman’s struggles, to identifying full blown sepsis during a routine antenatal appointment.

Leah doesn’t skirt around the terrible pressures on the NHS, the staff shortages, the relentless shifts, the terror when the unit is full and there are only so many midwives on shift, and yet she relates these with empathy, and even good humour.

As someone who’s soon to give birth it’s terrifying reading, but it’s also good to know that midwives like Leah exist, and I am likely to have someone like that looking after me; someone warm, kind, human, who listens and relates.

Hard Pushed is available to borrow in print or talking book on CD

Emily, Library Advisor at Central Lending and Children’s selects The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom gave me a new outlook on life. It tells the story of the life and death of the main character, who is sent to Heaven, and meets five individuals who significantly impacted the life he had. This book is inspiring as it invites you to open up to the possibility that so many individuals, who you either know or don’t know, have an impact on the life you live. By reading this book, it definitely made me more thoughtful and empathetic to others, because just as so many people can have an impact on your life, you also may impact so many others’ lives; by treating people with kindness and exploring empathy, this impact you have can be positive. 

The Five People You Meet in Heaven is available to borrow in print

What book would you recommend for Empathy Day?

Walking books collection

Stockbridge Library has a new walking books collection! Whether you’re an avid walker, an armchair walker, or an amateur, here’s a glimpse into what the collection has to offer…

Walking guides

Walking in the Pentland Hills: 30 Walks in Edinburgh’s Local Hills by Susan Falconer – if you’re looking for easy walks from Edinburgh this book is packed full of options. Including popular Pentland trails around Harlaw reservoir and Scald Law, this book also weaves through historical facts, literary connections, and folktale.

Or try somewhere further afield:

Exploring the Fife Coastal Path by Hamish Brown – this route stretches from Kincardine to Newburgh. The walk can be completed in day trips or in 9 – 10 days. Walkers may wish to spend longer in St Andrews or exploring the beautiful beaches and fishing villages along the way. You can even have a go at the chain walk (at your own risk!)

Walking The Dales Way by Terry Marsh – this book guides you on a 79 mile walk across the Yorkshire Dales, ending in the Lake District. A largely flat walk across rolling dales, riversides, and moor. It’s broken up by picturesque villages making it perfect for long distance beginners. Complete it over 4 – 7 days. 

Day walks in Northumberland: 20 coastal & countryside routes by David Wilson – explore Bamburgh, Hadrian’s wall, Lindisfarne and more. These walks cover wide sandy beaches, ancient ruins, and the rolling Cheviot Hills. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, whales, and seals along the way.

Books on walking

Wanderlust by Rebecca Solnit – from social change to famous walkers: this is a meditation on walking, wandering, and writing. Solnit argues we’ve become too focused on the destination at the expense of the journey – when we give up on journeys we give up the opportunity to discover new things about ourselves and the world around us.

Just Another Mountain by Sarah Jane Douglas – after losing her mother to breast cancer, Douglas set herself the challenge to climb every Munro. Through mountain climbing she found solace, hope, and the strength to overcome.  A poignant and moving memoir on walking and grief.

Hidden histories: a spotter’s guide to the British landscape by Mary-Ann Ochota – ever wondered why some fields are bumpy? How to spot a Roman road? Or do you want to learn more about the history of our landscape, from quarries to ancient burial mounds? This beautifully illustrated book encourages you to ‘get out there!’ and find out.

Navigation Skills for Walkers – this book by the ordnance survey will help you build up your confidence or help brush up on old skills. It includes tips on map reading, using GPS devices, and using a compass.

Discover the full walking collection at Stockbridge Library or browse the Walking collection titles online and reserve for pick up at your local library.

And don’t forget to check out Libby for some more great walking-themed ebook, audiobook and magazine titles!

More treasures from our drawers 

This time the Music Library highlight treasures from their bottom drawers. These mostly contain box sets or DVDs.  

We are going to look at a few of our DVDs. Whilst you may think that everything you can think of, you can watch on some streaming or video platform there are still many musical recording gems to be found in our Music Library drawers. Not everyone can watch DVDs; not everyone has a player or a computer or laptop with a DVD drawer, but whilst these things still exist for some, let us highlight some of the delights of our drawers. Not just our drawers, we also have a fine collection of operas, dance, pop and film on DVD, displayed in our department. Some of these DVDs will be available on our streaming site Medici TV, but a lot are not, which is why picking up the DVD at the library is still an option.  

Douglas from the Music Library has chosen 8 DVDs from our drawers to highlight.

Leonard Bernstein Omnibus 4 DVD set
Firstly, Leonard Bernstein is renowned as a composer, conductor, pianist, and for some for his Norton Harvard Lectures and this set of documentary/lectures made for the three American broadcasters of the time CBS, NBC and ABC. They stand as great acts of demystification, not dumbing down or bedazzling, just a great communicator doing what he perhaps did best, sharing his beloved subject, on this occasion through the spoken word, with the world.
Borrow Leonard Bernstein Omnibus 4 DVD set

Quincy Jones Live in 1960 
This DVD is from a time in which Quincy Jones was almost stuck in Europe. Quincy and his 18-piece dream band had gone to Europe where they had enjoyed great critical success. The band and Quincy were later to admit that although that was true, great critical success was not matched by any financial success. They all lived there for some time making recordings for French, Belgium and Swiss TV. Here are performances from Belgium and Switzerland with a band that contained the great Jazz French Hornist Julius Watkins, and the Trombone player Melba Liston, one of a very few female Jazz Trombonists to gain any fame at that time. 
Borrow Quincy Jones Live in 1960

Glenn Gould: a film by Bruno Monsaingeon 
The Film maker, Monsaingeon, says in his sleeve notes that Glenn Gould is much more than one of the greatest pianists of all time. In this, almost 2 hour documentary, he attempts to show us why he believes this. Gould is mentioned mostly for his famous/infamous recordings of the Goldberg Variations which is, in equal measures, lauded and laughed at, for his humming whilst he plays. 
Borrow Glen Gould – Hereafter

Lomax – the songhunter – a film by Rogier Kappers
Kappers visits and revisits the frail and ill Alan Lomax in this documentary, made one year before Lomax’s death and when unable to communicate due to a brain haemorrhage. Famously Lomax was a collector of folk songs and traditions from round the world. Lomax, benignly enjoys the journeys of the filmmaker, Kappers, as he retraces Lomax’s steps.
Borrow Lomax – the songhunter 

Elisabeth Schwarzkopf Soprano
This DVD presents programmes of Songs and Arias recorded at various times over a ten-year period in 1960/70, This is interesting for several reasons. Schwarzkopf is one of the few castaways on Desert Island Discs to choose entirely her own recordings. All seven of her choices by herself. On two of the sessions featured on this DVD she is accompanied by the wonderful pianist, Gerald Moore, whose autobiography “Am I To Loud?” is one of the most interesting musical autobiographies I have read. Perhaps not famous for her work with more modern composers, one of the songs featured is by composer Gian Carlo Menotti. Menotti is best known as the composer of Amahl and the Night Visitors, the first opera written for television.
Borrow Elisabeth Schwarzkopf classic archive

Mr McFalls Chamber – Live from the Queen’s Hall
Mr McFalls Chamber was formed by musicians from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Scottish Ballet Orchestra to, in their words, create new audiences, new music and new directions in music. Featuring in their programmes are any type and genre of music from Prog-Rock to Renaissance music, and everything you can imagine in between.
Borrow Mr McFalls Chamber – Live from the Queen’s Hall

Jiri Kylian’s Car Men
Choreographer Jiri Kylian and director Boris Pavel Conen created this work based on the opera, Carmen, entirely on location. They used Bizet’s original score and integrated original music. Four dancers tell the story of Carmen, the infatuated Don Jose, the womaniser Escimillo and the kind-hearted Micaela.
Borrow Jiri Kylian’s Car Men

Aiyun Huang and friends  – Save Percussion Theatre
I know nothing of this group, or the players and music featured in this DVD. If it is on loan when you come into the Library check with me as I may well have it on my ticket. Aiyun Huang’s unique recital,  “Save Percussion Theatre,” is a video-recording of theatre music for percussion dedicated to the pioneering work of the Parisian group “Trio Le Cercle,” for whom many of these works are written and by whom they have been championed.
Borrow Aiyun Huang and friends – Save Percussion Theatre

Our music video streaming site, Medici TV has a wealth of concerts, operas, ballets, music documentaries and masterclasses. If, as U2 say, “you still haven’t found what you’ve been looking for”, then take a look at our DVD collection, dust of your player and relax for a few hours with your chosen moment.

All the DVDs are available from the Music Library as is the biography, “Am I too loud?” by Gerald Moore. 

History of the house: 4 Balcarres Street

In the late 18th century, Morningside was a rural, agricultural village to the southwest of Edinburgh. Located on the principal drove road into Edinburgh from the south, the village served farms and estates nearby, including Plewlands, Egypt, Comiston and Buckstone. From the early to mid 19th century, Morningside developed as a suburb of Edinburgh, attracting wealthy people who built large villas within private grounds.

Morningside expanded considerably between 1852 and 1877, merging with Newington to the east and Merchiston to the north, becoming a residential suburb of the city. Improvements in transport links, firstly by the introduction of a tram service after 1871 and secondly by the opening of a suburban railway line in 1884, accelerated the growth of Morningside.

Tenements started to appear throughout with the first ones appearing in Morningside Road and by the late 1800s they began to outnumber the large villas.

One of the tenement streets is Balcarres Street where construction began in 1884 and was completed in stages over 15 years. The first part to be built, originally called Balcarres Terrace, commenced at Morningside Station, opposite Belhaven Terrace. You can see how Morningside developed in this National Library of Scotland map.

Balcarres Street map courtesy the National Library of Scotland.

We are highlighting one of the tenements, Number 4, which is the middle point of the small row of 7 tenements before it turns on a corner and continues along to Craighouse Gardens. Balcarres Street was almost directly opposite Morningside Rail Station which allowed very easy access across Edinburgh.

Findmypast has a very helpful tool when searching census returns. You can search by street name. On 5 April 1891 the census was taken, and on that night, there were seven households in the tenement. The ages of the occupants ranged from the youngest Henry Alstone who was 5 months old to the eldest 65-year-old Catherine Elliot. Occupations of the householders were varied. There was a grocer, a coal merchant, an insurance clerk and several who were living by ‘private means’ – indicating some kind of independent income, perhaps savings or shares, an allowance, rental income, a private pension or family support. The Alstones also employed a servant.

By the time of the next census taken on 31 March 1901, only one family, the McGalls were still living there, all the other flats had new occupants. Again, occupations were varied, and once again several were living from ‘private means’. The place of birth section of the census shows that all but two residents were born in Scotland. A James A (Angus) Fowler was born in America. Looking up his birth record on Findmypast, we are able to see a copy of his original birth registration in Boston, Massachusetts where he was born on 18 June 1873. Both his parents were born in Scotland, and his father who was a slater had perhaps emigrated to America to seek work.

With the 1911 census as yet not available in Scotland we have to look at other ways of finding out who lived at number 4 Balcarres Street in the following years. Post Office Directories are a good way of finding out. They don’t list everyone as you had to pay to be included. But it’s a good start. I’ve jumped forward a bit and in the 1959/1960 directory I have found a listing for a A.R. Stewart, who just happens to be my grandfather, there in the flat that I was brought up in and spent my childhood.

4 Balcarres Street, May 2022 by Jinty G via www.edinburghcollected.org

If you’re interested in doing some research into the history of the property you live in, our library service has many resources you can use whether online or in person. Make a start with our local and family history page on the Your Library website or drop into the Edinburgh and Scottish Collection at Central Library for some friendly advice.

The National Library of Scotland has Edinburgh and the whole of Scotland covered with their brilliant digital map resource.

Read other articles in this ‘History of the House’ series:
History of the house: King’s Wark
History of the house: Bowhead house
History of the house: Nicolson Square and Marshall Street
History of the house: White Horse Close
History of the house: 94 and 96 Grassmarket
History of the house: Stockbridge Colonies
History of the house: Milne’s Court
History of the house: Melbourne Place
History of the house: Falcon Hall
History of the house: North British Hotel
History of the house: Cammo House
History of the house: Newhailes

Edinburgh Women’s Mural online

Earlier this week we announced the unveiling of the Edinburgh Women’s Mural at Central Library which celebrates Edinburgh’s trailblazing women, past and present. The mural will be on display in Central Library until 2 July 2022.

But what if you’re unable to visit, or you simply want a sneak preview?

Stencilled portraits from the Edinburgh Women’s Mural

Well, you can find a selections of the pioneer’s portraits in a new mini-exhibition on Capital Collections and in a new story on Our Town Stories!

Women and the environment: Activists, pioneers, and gardeners. 

Join us next month for an exciting programme of events celebrating women activists, pioneers and gardeners.

Part of the Harpies, Fechters and Quines 2022 events programme, Women and the Environment: Activists, Pioneers, and Gardeners is a collaboration with the Bonnie Fechters, Glasgow Women’s Library and Edinburgh City Libraries.

The Three I’s: Isobel Gunn, Isabella Bird and Isobel Wylie Hutchison
Tuesday 7 June at 2pm, George Washington Browne Room, Central Library

Jane George, a tutor in Scottish women’s history and a member of the Bonnie Fechters, will give a talk on The Three I’s: Isobel Gunn, Isabella Bird and Isobel Wylie Hutchison, three unconventional, intrepid and inspirational women whose lives spanned three centuries and whose enthusiasm for exploring and travelling in relatively unknown environments challenged the social conventions of their time.
Book your free ticket via Eventbrite.

“Scots women who chose to challenge”
Wednesday 8 June at 11am, George Washington Browne Room, Central Library

Jackie Sangster is a Learning Manager with the Learning & Inclusion team at Historic Environment Scotland – working across Scotland to bring people of all ages and backgrounds the opportunity to discover, explore, understand, and be inspired by our historic environment. Mostly Jackie works with digital archive material from Scran – that’s ½ million records, not counting all the other HES archives such as Canmore. As a former teacher, she endeavours to make engagement with school and community groups as creative as possible. Allowing people to explore heritage in a meaningful and enjoyable way.

Her talk will explore archive material, meeting Scots women who‘ve made their mark in their respective fields whether in politics, law, medicine, the arts or the world of sport. Introducing some well know faces through archive photography and perhaps a few less familiar, but nonetheless inspiring individuals who chose to challenge their world.
Book your free ticket via Eventbrite.

Sister Earth – Story Café
Wednesday 8 June at 1pm on Zoom, a women only event

In these uncertain times, nature has become more important than ever to us as a source of calm, and healing. In this story cafe, we look to women’s writings and stories of action that celebrate our natural environment, from urban gardeners and wild walkers to women working together on issues of climate change and preserving and protecting our natural environment. We’ll be reading from poetry, prose and fiction about how ordinary and extraordinary women are getting to grips with the present and future of our precious landscapes.  Grab a cup of tea and bit of cake, then sit back and enjoy!
Book through Glasgow Women’s Library

An introduction to climate change and why it’s important that we do something about it.
Thursday 9 June at 2pm, George Washington Browne Room, Central Library

Kirsten Leggatt is a Climate Change Consultant for Arup and a tutor on the online Carbon Management Masters at the University of Edinburgh. She is heavily involved as a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Ambassador in schools teaching students and young people about the causes and consequences of climate change. In January 2020, she presented evidence to the UK Climate Assembly on the solutions to reaching the UK Government’s net-zero emissions target by 2050 and has since represented young people on the Stewarding Group for the Scottish Climate Assembly.
Book your free ticket via Eventbrite.

The garden Ella grew – a Japanese garden in Scotland 
Monday 13 June at 11am, George Washington Browne Room, Central Library

The Japanese Garden, Cowden is a ‘wee’ gem, hidden amongst the hills of Clackmannanshire in Scotland. Created in 1908 by Japanese landscape architect Taki Handa, it was the dream of Ella Christie, independent traveller and explorer, who had journeyed to Japan herself the year before. In 2018 the garden opened to visitors after an extensive restoration project and today it’s unique beauty amongst the Ochil hills is available for everyone to see. 

Join us as we share its history and layout.
Book your free ticket via Eventbrite.

Ground-breaking: Women at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Thursday 16 June at 2pm, George Washington Browne Room, Central Library

Graham Hardy is a member of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh’s Library and Archives team. 

RBGE’s history has always been told from the vantage point of the Regius Keepers and Principal Gardens/Curators, because they leave the biggest historical record.  Tucked away in manuscript accounts and notebooks are the names of the men who were paid to do the work and also as time progressed from the middle of the eighteenth century women’s names start to appear.  

Using original source material from the collections, Graham will give an overview of some of the women who worked or were heavily involved with The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh from 1750 to the present. Their roles range from the anonymous women paid to weed to illustrators, tutors/teachers, gardeners, plant collectors, laboratory and herbarium staff, administrators, scientific researchers and research students. 

Graham’s research, undertaken when not working in his professional capacity, has been much helped by research both national and international on the topic and also by input and enthusiasm from colleagues, volunteers and research associates.  His research is ongoing.  There may be much for Graham and others still to unearth, but we will receive an excellent insight to how much has already been discovered.
Book your free ticket via Eventbrite.

All events, apart from the online Story Cafe, take place in the George Washington Room at Central Library. The George Washington Browne Room is accessible by stairs or the public lift.

New drawing and art books for children

For this month’s blog from the Art and Design Library, Jen reviews a few of our 

NEW DRAWING/ART BOOKS FOR CHILDREN.

They’re exciting additions, and we have more to come. We’re planning a collection of travelling stock to send out to our community libraries – so do keep a look out for some smart new books on our shelves.  

For this year’s spring/summer exhibition, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art are showing a Barbara Hepworth show at Modern Two. It opened on 9 April and will run until 2 October 2022.  

Meet Barbara Hepworth by Laura Carlin therefore seems an apt title to begin with. Laura Carlin is an illustrator and ceramicist based in London, and the book feels so fresh. It’s a wonderful introduction, for anybody, to thoughts about form and shape. About what is it that we do in front of a sculpture; about how learning to see is a bodily thing; about how feelings and shapes collide; and how shapes talk to each other.  

I always love seeing the insides of books, so here are some sneaky shots. 

Meet Barbara Hepworth by Laura Carlin
Meet Barbara Hepworth by Laura Carlin
Meet Barbara Hepworth by Laura Carlin

As you can see, Laura Carlin’s illustration work is a fantastic medley of mixed media-collage-drawing/everything work. And as well as being about Barbara Hepworth and her sculptures, the book also includes prompts for how you might make your own sculptures inspired by the natural world.  

Some extra links – to the Hepworth Wakefield gallery and Barbara Hepworth’s biography page (great photos and snippets of inspiring thoughts); and her sculpture garden and museum in St Ives if you’re ever that end of the map.  

Laura Carlin won the prestigious V & A Book Illustration Award in 2011 for her illustrated edition of Ted Hughes’ The Iron Man. And one of my favourite books of hers’ is A World of Your Own. On play and creativity, it just sparkles.   

There are more in this series. Tate Publishing is the publisher, and the series is called Meet the Artist. As with the Barbara Hepworth, Tate have commissioned a contemporary illustrator to respond to an older artist. Lizzy Stewart has made one on Turner; Rose Blake on David Hockney and Andy Warhol; Nick White on Giacometti; Hélène Baum-Owoyele on Frank Bowling, Helena Perez Garcia on the Pre-Raphaelites.  

They encourage observation and imagination, and they are brilliant creative introductions to art history, and to artmaking. 

(A further peek – these next couple of pictures are from the David Hockney book.)  

David Hockney by Rose Blake
David Hockney by Rose Blake

Another exciting little cohort in our new stock collection are several books by the French artist and educator Hervé Tullet . Art Workshops for Children; Draw Here; I Have an Idea!; andMy Stencil Kit: Draw, Colour and Create Your Own Stories.For sheer joy, energy, and a perfect explication of what it means to play, I totally recommend these books.

Here’s a look inside for you: 

Draw Here by Hervé Tullet
Draw Here by Hervé Tullet
Draw Here by Hervé Tullet
Art workshops for children by Hervé Tullet
Art workshops for children by Hervé Tullet

I find it endlessly interesting watching my toddler with his felt-tip pens. His compulsion and delight, the variety of things that need to be done to and with a felt-tip pen. Whoever knew. I can see the process of him learning – how do I hold this object; what can it do; it’s a tool, oh wow – and with that, comes his discovery of all kinds of concepts… His drawing is totally process-based, he’s busy exploring stuff (until suddenly he’s not!) but mostly he is, and it’s fun for him. What I love about the Hervé Tullet books is that he takes this boundless curiosity and intuitive need to create that all children seem to have, and he plays with it. It’s the visual equivalent of handstands or cartwheels, or just lying on the grass wiggling your toes. The books contain activities and workshops that are adaptable for pretty much any age group. It’s easy to forget how to play, and these books are a bundle of fun and cleverness that remind us how important it is.  

On this workshopping topic I’d just like to mention a couple of other books we have: Drawing Projects for Children; and Make Build Create. Both are by the artist-educator Paula Briggs.  

And here’s an endorsement for the Drawing Projects book by Quentin Blake – “A beautiful book, full of ideas and a vivid sense of materials – truly appetising and stimulating.”  

It wets my appetite too. The book is a collection of simple exercises and activities about making thoughtful and meaningful marks in all kinds of media. I find more each time I go back to them. There are also helpful notes for the facilitator/parent of an activity, and one of the tenets behind the books is that the facilitator need not be a specialist at all.  

Paula Briggs has also set up a charity called Access Art which is a treasure trove of resources for children’s art activities, both for Primary and Secondary age groups.  

And one more picture from some of our new children’s stock:

If you’re at high school reading this, or you’re the parent of someone who is, I thought I’d include a few gems from our stock – some personal gems anyway, from my personal canon, as I’m sure everybody has their own. 

The writer and illustrator, Mervyn Peake, creator of Gormenghast, wrote a little treatise on drawing called The Craft of the Lead Pencil. Originally published in 1946, it is full of the essence of what drawing is (or should be). It is a simple telling, just a few pages long. We have it compiled in another book, Mervyn Peake: Writings & Drawings. 

Similarly, Kimon Nicolaides’ The Natural Way to Draw, is a wonderful (old) how-to book. It is a year’s schedule of drawing that looks at the components of making a drawing – gesture, line, form, feeling, the materials you are working with… – and always with an eye on artists working in the past.  

Also in the 1970s, John Berger (1926 – 2017), artist, art historian, and writer, wrote his influential Ways of Seeing to accompany the BBC TV series of the same name. And in the early 2000s, he wrote a little book of essays and fragments on drawing. It begins,  

For the artist drawing is discovery. And that is not just a slick phrase, it is quite literally true. It is the actual act of drawing that forces the artist to look at the object in front of him, to dissect it in his mind’s eye and put it together again; or, if he is drawing from memory, that forces him to dredge his own mind, to discover the content of his own store of past observations… “

This is illustrated so well, I think, by the artist Sargy Mann in an introductory essay to a book on Bonnard’s drawings. It is about how the very best drawing is discovery, and about how we see. 

We have a lot of books on drawing, of course; on artists’ drawings and artists’ sketchbooks. Come and look at the golden oldies. (How does Rembrandt draw? How did he draw so much heart, I’d love to know that. And Hokusai – he draws with so much facility, so much life – we have his Manga sketchbooks in one of our stores. Originally published in 1814, they are a handbook of over 4,000 images. They contain drawings of everyday life, people, expressions, architecture; drawings of the natural world and animals; myths and stories.) 

And here are just a few extra pictures I pulled off the shelves from our drawing section to entice you: 

Drawing and Painting by Kate Wilson
Drawing and Painting by Kate Wilson
Drawing water by Tania Kovats
Drawing birds by John Busby
Drawing books from the Art and Design Library collection
Comics Sketchbooks by Steven Heller
Comics Sketchbooks by Steven Heller
Anatomy for the artist by Sarah Simblet
Anatomy for the artist by Sarah Simblet
Botany for the artist by Sarah Simblet
Sketching books from the Art and Design Library collection

What I mainly want to say though, is, we have lots and lots of great books. Please do come into the Art and Design Library and explore! 

Edinburgh Women’s Mural

During Women’s History Month in March this year, Central Library began work on creating a public mural celebrating Edinburgh’s trailblazing women, past and present. This was inspired by another project entitled ‘Work in Progress’ by the artists Jann Haworth and Liberty Blake which has been running in the USA since 2016.

We had a fantastic response from the local community, and we’d like to say a big thank you to everybody that contributed, whether you provided nominations for our list of unsung heroines, or helped spread the word, or attended one of our stencil workshops. Thanks also go to Creative Scotland, who awarded us funding for the project, and to local artist Madeleine Wood and graphic designer Greg Stedman.

The Edinburgh Women’s Mural is now finished and ready to display, at Central Library! See below for a sneak peek of one of the eight panels. How many people can you recognise?

Edinburgh Women’s Mural – detail

Please come in to visit us and have a look at the full mural. We’d love to hear your comments and feedback, and if any portrait on the mural inspires you to learn more about a particular individual or subject, staff will be on hand to signpost you to relevant books and other resources from our collections. There will also be a “who’s who” to help you identify each of the women depicted, and a supporting display of interesting material about the women of Edinburgh. 

Check out this short video about how we made the stencilled portraits:

As you will see, one of the women featured prominently on the full mural is the Rector of Edinburgh University, Debora Kayembe. She kindly took the time to speak to us about her inspiring life and varied career. Watch her video here: 

We look forward to seeing you at Central Library, and if you are interested in attending one of our upcoming mural-themed free talks and events, please watch this space, or keep an eye on social media channels! 

The Edinburgh Women’s Mural is on display at Central Library from 23 May to 2 July 2022.

Queen’s Jubilee Bank Holiday

All our libraries will be closed on Friday 3 June to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday.

Remember Your Library is always open online to borrow ebooks, audiobooks, newspapers and magazines.

Central Library’s Book Talk Group ‘Keep the Heid’ with a six-minute read-in in the Lending Library

Last Wednesday, three members of Book Talk, a group who meet fortnightly at Central Library had a ‘read-in’ in the lending library, to celebrate Keep The Heid.

Margaret, Lily and Kenneth from the Book Talk Group at Central Library

Keep The Heid, a Scotland wide initiative, saw over 400,000 people pledge to read for six minutes on the eleventh of May to promote health and wellbeing.

Before the read-in, group members Kenneth Macleod, Lily Johnston and Margaret Lobban spoke to library advisors about their group, libraries and why reading is important for so many reasons.

“We started off following an SQA,” says Lily, “but when we lost funding for that we decided we wanted to continue ourselves, so we moved the group to the library. We all work together, bringing texts and making suggestions of what we should read next. Margaret was a volunteer with the group, and when we moved, she chose to come with us.”

Lily from the Book Talk group at Central Library

The group have read books including a A Street Cat Named Bob and Greyfriars’ Bobby and often read short stories or a couple of chapters of a book together.

“It’s improved my reading a lot” said Kenneth, “I’ve been reading lots of books, I like science fiction, railways, music books.”

Lily agrees that reading with the group has hugely improved her confidence in her own ability both reading, and speaking publicly; “Quickreads have really encouraged me to do more reading, only if picking a book up for five or ten minutes. We read aloud in the group and it’s given me the confidence to do readings in church.”

“Reading out loud is really important”, agrees Margaret, “it gets across the fluency of the written word.”

“It’s a friendly group”, says Lily, “we give everyone the chance to do the reading and we help each other out, after we’ve read something we have a chat about it among ourselves. We’ve been doing this for ten years in some shape or form. It’s a great way to build up your confidence.”

Group members can bring in things other than books to share with the group, Lily has previously bought in some wordsearches she enjoys doing, another way the group can share their interest in words.

The group have found particular value in Quick Reads, short books and great stories by bestselling authors which provide a route into reading through accessible and easy to read writing styles and Journey For Learning books. The group also recommend titles in large print. “Large print books are magnificent”, says Margaret, “for those with dyslexia say, or people who aren’t confident and fluent readers”.

Margaret from the Book Talk group at Central Library

“We recently read a chapter from In My Life by Alan Johnson”, says Margaret, “and it was brilliant, it’s a music memoir, so everyone was saying, ‘Oh yes, I remember that year, what music were we listening to?’ And talking about it.”

“I like MC Beaton books”, says Kenneth, talking about writers the group has introduced him to, “Agatha Raisin [the detective] always arrives in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

The group illustrate brilliantly the importance of reading for mental health and wellbeing, the key aim of Keep the Heid.

For the read-in, Lily has chosen Heidi by Joanne Spyri, which she reads on her ereader. Kenneth has chosen Red River Ransome, a mystery novel by Eric Wilson, while Margaret, a beekeeper, has chosen Dancing With Bees by Brigit Strawbridge Howard.

Kenneth from the Book Talk group at Central Library

As they move off to take position in the library, library advisor Fernando photographs them, and they read their chosen text for six minutes to show their commitment to Keep The Heid.

Margaret is eager to emphasise the importance of libraries, not only as a place for the group to meet and talk about books, but for everyone  – “you have more range here than any bookshop, I see over there, you have Urdu, Arabic, here you have large print and audio, there’s something for everyone, a library is such a gateway”.

Watch the video of the Book Talk group talking about books for Keep the Heid, Scotland’s Reading Moment on Wednesday 11 May.

Do you want to improve your reading in a friendly, supportive group for adults?  The Book Talk group welcomes new members.
They meet at Central Library every second Thursday from 2.15 to 4.15pm to read together and discuss their reading. If you’d like to find out more, please call Liz on 07922 416232.

Bookbug Week 2022 – join Bookbug’s big journey!

It’s Bookbug Week! We’ll be celebrating all kinds of journeys, whether it’s the excitement of riding on the bus or a train, strolls through the park, an adventure to outer space or even just a wee trip out in a buggy!

There’s lots of excitement in store this Bookbug Week.

Blackhall Library
Special multilingual Bookbug session takes place in the library garden (weather permitting) on Thursday 19 May at 10.30am. Please see Blackhall Library Facebook page for booking details.

Central Library
10.30am on Tuesday 17 and Friday 20 May
Join us in our Children’s Library for special journey themed sessions. Please see Central Library’s Facebook page for booking information.

Craigmillar Library
On Friday 20 May Bookbug is going on a big journey camping! Join Hannah for a walk around the Library garden with your favourite teddy bear, have a ‘camp-fire’ sing-along and then we will go to Bookbug’s campsite! Inside our special black-out sensory den you will be able to watch the Northern Lights, see the stars come out and enjoy a sleepy storytime.

This event is limited to small groups of five families, and is designed to be inclusive of children with autism or sensory processing issues, or who may find larger, noisier groups overwhelming. If the weather is too bad for an outdoor adventure we will still host the event indoors, and if all the tickets for this session get snapped up, we will add more sessions later in the day. Please check Craigmillar Library Facebook page for booking details.

Mobile Libraries
Our Mobile Library team will be popping along to Fox Covert Early Years Centre on Wednesday afternoon to celebrate Bookbug Week (closed event).

Moredun and Gilmerton Libraries
Bookbug is taking his Big Journey to the Union Canal on the Lochrin Belle, on Tuesday with his friends from Rainbow Kindergarten Nursery (closed event).

There will be two special Big Journey themed sessions at Gilmerton Library during the week, at 2.30pm on Tuesday 17 May and at 10.30am on Friday 20 May.

Oxgangs Library
Join our friends from Oxgangs Library for a special outdoor session at the Oxgangs Spring event at Colinton Mains Park on Friday 20 May between 1 and 4pm.

Stockbridge Library
On Monday 16 May, we will have a special storytelling and craft session around the Bookbug week theme Big Journeys. On Saturday we will have themed Bookbug and storytelling session with songs, rhymes and stories about buses, cars, rockets and boats.

Wester Hailes and Sighthill Libraries
Staff at Wester Hailes and Sighthill Libraries are joining forces to take you on a special Bookbug buggy walk. Details will be released on their Facebook pages.

Central Library staff pledge to Keep Their Heids this Mental Health Awareness Week

Keep The Heid is a campaign encouraging people to read for six minutes on the eleventh of May. It’s been proven by MindLab that just six minutes reading every day can reduce stress and improve sleep  – more so even than going for a walk or holding a steaming cup of tea.

I guess it’s not a surprise; reading takes you away from your anxieties, and for those six minutes you can be immersed in a world completely other than your own. Researchers are keen to emphasise that reading any book for pleasure will have the same effect.

Below our Library Advisors, Supervisors and Development Leaders share their #KeepTheHeid pledges, telling us which books they plan to immerse themselves in this week.

Bronwen, Art and Design and Music Library Development Leader, has pledged to read All Among the Barley by Melissa Harrison as part of #KeeptheHeid
The book I’m pledging to read is ‘All Among the Barley’ by Melissa Harrison which I’m reading just now with my book group.

I’m taking it slowly which is a deliberate choice to relish the book’s wonderfully descriptive portrayal of rural England in the autumn of 1933. Told through the character of Edie, then a teenager growing up on a family farm and with the Great War still casting a shadow over everyone’s lives, themes of class, folklore, changing rural traditions and patriarchy are explored. I’ll be reading my six minutes on the bus to work, I find it helps to distract me from thinking about the challenges of the day ahead and to bring me some stillness and peace despite the busyness around me.

All Among the Barley is available to borrow both as hardback, large print, talking book and ebook.

Joanna, Library Advisor in Art and Design and Music Libraries has chosen Children of Our Era, a poem by Wislawa Szymborska as her six minute read
I have chosen this poem because of its ideas about society, citizenship, and peoples’ and communities’ involvement in political subjects. Some people told me: ‘I’m not voting. I’m not interested in politics.’ Which is obviously a wrong decision. There is a saying: ‘you maybe have no interest in politics, but the politics easily becomes interested in you’.

Miracle Fair by Wislawa Szymborska is available to borrow and we also have several other collections of her poetry.

Natasha, Art and Design and Music Library Supervisor is reading Last Order at the Liars’ Bar: The Story of the Beautiful South
I came across this book whilst searching for items in our Music Library annexe. The Beautiful South have long been favourites of mine, so I was intrigued to find out a little more behind the catchy melodies and Paul Heaton’s sharp lyrics. The band’s music has been very beneficial to my mental health over the years so I thought it would be fitting to read this book for my pledge.

Last Order at the Liars’ Bar is available to reserve from the Central Music Store.

Ania, Library Advisor in Central Lending and Children’s Library has chosen to read Akin by Emma Donoghue
‘Akin’ is a tale of love, loss and family, in which a retired New York professor’s life is thrown into chaos when he takes his great-nephew to the French Riviera, in hopes of uncovering his own mother’s wartime secrets.

I very much enjoy reading it, taking part in their journey through beautiful Nice, its restaurants, cafes, galleries, watching them clash, fight but also learn from each other. ‘Akin’ is a quietly moving novel that shows us how little we know one another, but how little, perhaps, we need to know in order to care.

It has two things I love in a novel: a beautiful city you can imagine being in with the main characters and a complicated, deep but also fascinating relation between people who are so different from one another and yet manage to gain some mutual trust and respect towards each other.

Akin is available in paperback, hardback, large print, talking book on CD and audiobook.

Zoe, Library Advisor at Central Lending and Children’s is reading The Young Team by Graeme Armstrong
I’m reading ‘The Young Team’ by Graeme Armstrong, a book published in 2020 which tells the candid tale of a young man and his pals growing up in the housing schemes of Airdrie. I’m enjoying this book so much and can’t wait to find out what the wise and brave protagonist will do next. This is Armstrong’s first book, yet he writes with such unwavering confidence  – definitely one to watch. 

The Young Team is available in Edinburgh Libraries as hardback, paperback and talking book on CD.

Jeanette, Central Lending and Children’s Library Adviser is reading Thin Places by Kerri Ni Dochartaigh which was shortlisted for The Wainwright Prize
Getting out into nature, no matter how bad I feel, almost always lifts my spirits, and I am curious about the impact of nature on others. ‘Thin Places’ by Kerri Ni Dochartaigh is a mix of memoir, history and nature writing. Born in Derry, Ireland at the height of the Troubles, the author’s childhood was shocking and traumatic. Her account of how nature; moths, foxes, birds and ‘thin places’, contribute to her gradual recovery is magical. Nature is healing but so is reading, and this book has had me absorbed from the first page. Highly recommended.

Thin Places is available to reserve in hardback or paper back.

Emily, Library Advisor in Central Lending and Children’s has pledged to read Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun for #KeeptheHeid
For my pledged six minutes of reading for Keep the Heid, I will be reading ‘Klara and the Sun’ by Kazuo Ishiguro. This book is classed as a dystopian science fiction novel, and explores themes of faith, rationality, and love through the eyes of artificial intelligence. I’ve chosen to read this book as part of my pledge because I’ve only heard good reviews for it since it was published in 2021, and I have high hopes that it will challenge my thoughts and views on the themes seen throughout. 

Klara and the Sun is available to borrow as hardback, paperback, talking book on CD and ebook.

Hope, Library Advisor in Central Lending and Children’s is reading Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield
The Swan Inn is known for storytelling. People come from miles around to hear tales told by Joe Bliss, the innkeeper’s husband. One winter night (the longest of the year) just as Joe says, ‘Once Upon a Time…’, an unknown and injured man stumbles through the door holding a child in his arms. The man collapses. The child is drowned, or is she?

It is a story of stories, of maybe ghosts and longing, of the river which feeds the land and its people, yet can take them as well. I’m loving this strange and twisting novel.

Once Upon a River is available to borrow as paperback, hardback, ebook and audiobook.

Doris, Library Advisor at Central Lending and Children’s, is reading Taste by Stanley Tucci
Having recently finished Ruth Ozeki’s second novel The Book of Form and Emptiness, I was in the mood for something lighter.
I immediately picked up Stanley Tucci’s new book Taste. I’ve been avidly watching his TV programme and was looking forward to tucking into his memoir, which has a similarly reminiscent and urbane style. Something light yet with substance and a book to be savoured.

Taste is available to reserve as a hardback.

Dawn, Library Advisor at Central Lending and Children’s, chooses Edinburgh – Jarrold Short Walks
I was posted to Portobello library during Central’s ‘glow up’ and there found a bountiful book of walks in and around the Edinburgh area and this has lead to some new-to-me areas of the Pentlands. These explorations in the wilderness are crucial to maintaining my mental health which, in truth, like so many of us, has taken a severe bashing over the last two years.  If I had to choose one of these it would be Edinburgh – Jarrold Short Walks.

Edinburgh – Jarrold Short Walks is a little yellow paperback, available in four of our libraries

Vesna,  Central Lending and Children’s Library Development Leader pledges Burning Questions, Margaret Atwood’s third collection of essays and occasional pieces, covering 2004 – 2021
This choice was the result of practising the art of serendipity: a book voucher gift from a friend with an instruction to let the book chose me! I’ll be reading my six minutes during my lunch break, and if the weather is fair, outside in the park.

I am not sure which piece’s siren call will be the strongest today.  Perhaps a call to courage in ‘We Hang by the Thread’ (2016)? Or the wonderfully punctuated, firmly titled piece from 2019 Just.Tell.The.Truth. The most burning question of them all: How to Change the World (2013)? There are tempting pieces about other writers too: Doris Lessing, Alice Munro, Marie Clair-Blais. Whichever piece it is, I know that Atwood’s masterful writing, with generous sprinkle of wicked fun, will bring me back to the joy of reading. I’ll walk back to the library a little wiser, calmer, readier to carry on!

Burning Questions is available to reserve as an audiobook or hardback.

What will you read today to Keep the Heid and Read?

On 11th May…

Music Library, Central Library

Central Library is undergoing some repair works, some of which has meant having to close for a couple of weeks, but tomorrow, we will be back open. 

Tomorrow is 11 May, and here are a few bits and bobs about 11 May. Firstly May, May is the fifth month of the year, likely named after Maia Goddess of Spring, embodying growth and fertility. May has 31 days and in the northern hemisphere is the last month of spring, ushering in the summer. 

11 May is the 131st day of the year, with 234 days remaining till Christmas, if Christmas is what you look forward to. If this were your birthday, your star sign would be Taurus. Salvador Dali was born in 1904, the IBM computer Deep Blue beat Chess Grandmaster Gary Kasparov in the final match of a six-game series in 1997. Gordon Brown resigned as Prime Minister ending Labour’s 13-year run in power. In Vietnam it is National Human Rights Day, India celebrates National Technology Day and it is Statehood Day in Minnesota, USA. 

These are a few things that happened in the music world on 11 May. 

Way back in 1963 the Beatles started a 30-week run at the no. 1 slot in the UK album Chart with their debut album “Please Please Me”. They were knocked off the no. 1 slot by themselves and their second album, “With the Beatles” which stayed at the top slot for 21 weeks. Looking at the history of the UK album charts, the Beatles are the only band holding four of the top slots in the run-down of most weeks at no. 1. Those four albums being Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, A Hard Day’s Night and the two previously mentioned, Please Please Me and With the Beatles.

Roger Miller had recorded King of the Road in 1964 and released it as a single in January of 1965. It eventually reached no. 1 on 11 May. I spent some time trying to check this information was true and it is but according to different chart histories, websites, and books there is a slight difference in when in May and for how long it stayed at number one. What we do know is that it has been covered by many different, disparate groups from REM’s shameful shambolic, drunken version to the Proclaimers chart-topping 1990 version. It has spawned comedy versions and an answer called the Queen of the House by country music star Jody Miller (no relation), who wrote a new lyric to Roger Miller’s music. 

According to The Top of the Pops Archive, The Bee Gees first ever performance on the programme was on 11 May 1967. Broadcast on a Thursday and presented by Pete Murray, the Bee Gees performed “The New York Mining Disaster 1941”. This was the first of 89 appearances on the programme. 

Born on 11 May in 1888, composer Irving Berlin came into the world as Israel Beilin, one of eight children, thought to be born in Byelorussia, the family immigrated to New York in 1893. Berlin had his first hit in 1911 with Alexander Ragtime Band. Variously described as “The Greatest Songwriter who has ever lived” by George Gershwin or by Jerome Kern “Irving Berlin has no place in American music – he is American Music.”  Berlin lived to the age of 101, dying in in 1989. 

Irving Berlin
Samuel Johnson Woolf, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Still rocking and rolling Eric Burdon of the Animals, famous for their hit “The House of the Rising Sun,” was born, or you could say – the son rose in the Burdon household – in Newcastle on 11 May 1941. 

Eric Burdon interviewed by Judith Bosch after performing in the Dutch TV programme Fanclub, 1967
Photographer: F. van Geelen, CC BY-SA 3.0 NL via Wikimedia Commons

On 11 May 2006, the late, great George Michael was discovered “tired and emotional” behind the wheel of his car and then was involved in his second small car smash in as many days, trying to evade the pestering paparazzi. 

Richard Harris
City of Boston Archives, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Dumbledore (Richard Harris) recorded and had a hit with the enigmatic Jimmy Webb song MacArthur Park, in 1968. Richard Harris could only magic up a number nine place in the charts. Ten years later Donna Summer had a no. 1 with her disco version. Bass trombonist and arranger Adrian Drover, who played with the BBC Scottish Radio Orchestra, scored a massive hit with his arrangement of MacArthur Park for the great Canadian trumpeter Maynard Ferguson and his band. There are several recordings of his arrangement at our Jazz streaming service Naxos Jazz.

Donna Summer performing at the inaugural gala at the Convention Centre in Washington DC, 19/1/1985
President (1981-1989 : Reagan). White House Photographic Office. 1981-1989 (Most Recent), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Reggae Legend Bob Marley passed away in 1981 from cancer. Exodus by Bob Marley and the Wailers was voted best album of the 20th century by Time Magazine. A 1984 compilation Album “Legend” became the best-selling reggae album ever with sales of over 20 million. 6 February, the day of Bob Marley’s birth, was made a national holiday in Jamaica in 1990. 

Bob Marley live in concert in Zurich, Switzerland, 1980
Ueli Frey, CC BY-SA 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/, via Wikimedia Commons

If you are reading this on 12 May, then you can celebrate with us the birth of French Composer Jules Massenet known mainly for his work in opera but probably most famous for the Meditation from Thais. This piece written for solo violin and orchestra is an entr’acte or intermezzo between scenes one and two in Act 2 of the opera. This work has a life of its own and has become the chosen encore of many of the world’s greatest violinists. It perhaps overshadows the opera it came from and probably all of the composer’s other works. Massenet was born in 1842 and died in Aug 1913.  

Jules Massenet in 1880
Pierre Petit (d. 1909). Tim riley at English Wikipedia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

If you are reading this on 13 May then we can all celebrate the 81st birthday of the wonderful Joe Brown, entertainer, rock ‘n’ roller and ukulele player. His version of “I’ll see you in my Dreams” (written by Isham Jones and Gus Kahn), is the reason I took up the ukulele. 

Access our catalogue and search for books and music of The Beatles, Massenet, Donna Summer, The Animals and much more. Stream and download music from our two online collections: 
Naxos Music Library
and
Naxos Jazz.

Watch music documentaries, concerts, operas including 3 versions of Werther by Massenet and one production of his Manon, ballets, and masterclass at Medici TV

Welcome back (for tomorrow), come in and see us soon.