A childhood dreamland

The staircase exhibition in Central Library for April is Idyllic Garden in Mind: Childhood Dreamland which uses illustrations from Kate Greenaway’s children’s books. The exhibition was created by Lin Fan, an Art History master’s degree student at the University of Edinburgh.

Fan has selected some beautiful Kate Greenaway books as well as some lovely winners of the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal from the Library’s collections. Last month, she also held a Garden Book Family Craft Workshop inspired by Kate Greenway’s illustrations and some of the books created by the children will be on display too.

Browse the ‘childhood dreamland’ in the Central Library staircase and foyer display areas from 3 – 28 April 2017.

 

World Autism Awareness Week 27 March – 2 April – A personal story Part 3

Following on from yesterday’s post Hope talks about working for Edinburgh City Libraries.

It was my boyfriend who suggested I apply to libraries. He thought the work would do me good, give me stability that seasonal waitressing and freelance writing didn’t.

I didn’t think I had a chance, but he found out that Edinburgh City Council have a scheme where they guarantee an interview to candidates who declare they have a disability. I felt a bit weird about using this, but I also remembered the libraries of my childhood, the magic there, the tales of courage and failure, as well as success, the way that books seemed to be the haven for kids who felt they were outsiders. With this in mind I applied and got an interview, where I spoke to the interviewer about how important libraries were to me as a child, how I’d like to see other children have similar positive experiences in libraries, how books could make a kid feel that he or she was not so alone after all. I thought I’d talked to much and made a total mess of it.

When I got the phone call to tell me I’d got the job I was delighted. Andrew, the interviewer, told me that my passion had come across and I’d given a good interview.

There have been challenges to working in libraries. One emotion I cannot recognise in others is anger, and this makes me edgy – aware of the potential that someone may become angry and I will not recognise it. A raised voice will frighten me for example, and I have mistaken customers’ legitimate frustration’ with anger directed at myself and my colleagues. But I’ve learnt to deal with this, communicating clearly with customers who have problems, and speaking with them about the steps we can take to ensure that the problem is solved.

Working in libraries has been an overwhelmingly positive experience, and I think that because of my experience as an outsider I can relate to library users who may have challenges in a more direct way than other staff members can. Of course, all staff will seek to help library users with disabilities, but I feel that wanting to help, and being able to relate are different things.

The customers are for the most part friendly, engaging and interesting, and something I’ve learned about people since I was a child is that whether they are on the autistic spectrum or not, they are all as keen to be liked as I am, and everyone has at one stage in their life had a time where they feel like an outsider; whether that is when they are starting a new role, or in an unfamiliar situation. Alienation is lonely, but also universal, and it took a long time for me to understand that.

Just today a member of the public came into the children’s library and asked about books on autism. He works as a play worker with autistic children, and was looking for resources. I pointed him in the right direction and we had a chat about his work, and how important it is. I didn’t tell him I’m on the autistic spectrum and I don’t think he guessed. Sometimes it’s nice to pass as normal.

World Autism Awareness Week 27 March – 2 April – A personal story Part 2

Following on from Hope’s post yesterday.

So how can I work in libraries, working not only within a team, but also serving customers, dealing with their enquiries, advising them on where to find a book, or how to get a bus pass, or which part of the library to go to?

Hope

Hope working in the Central Library

Ever since I can remember I have loved libraries; I remember the childhood treat of being allowed to choose new books every Saturday, which would be my bedtime stories for the week ahead, learning to read myself, making slow but crucial sense of the strange characters on paper which make up words, sitting on the little plastic orange chairs and reading story books about kids who also felt isolated, or awkward or were in some kind of jeopardy. The monsters who they fled from seemed similar to the bullies who I spent my lunch break hiding from.

The books in the library told stories of outsiders, kids like me who although they weren’t autistic, had something separating them, something which meant that they weren’t like all the other kids, something a bit magical. Through the magic of libraries and the kindness of librarians I learnt a lot, and even as a child, frightened of the world and the people in it, I always thought it would be sort of cool to work in a library.

As I got older I learnt to disguise my weirdness and fear, until the fear was far smaller and the weirdness transformed into something people called ‘quirkiness’ or ‘magic.’ I went to University and graduated at the height of the recession then worked as a waitress, because there was literally no other work. I found to my amazement that excepting the odd person, working with members of the public is kind of nice.

Tomorrow Hope talks about her experience of working for Edinburgh City Libraries.

 

Free magazines anyone?

Edinburgh Libraries online magazine collection just got even better! We’ve added 21 new titles to our Zinio service giving you a fantastic 130 popular magazines to choose from. New titles include:

Women’s magazines
Current affairs to motoring

Technology to men’s magazines

Check out the whole list of available titles as well as instructions about how to access Zinio on your device on our Your Library website.

Be the next Mary Berry!

No baking class needed, just a library card! Join in with our latest OverDrive Big Library Read event, the world’s largest global ebook reading club. From the 16th – 30th March there will be unlimited access to ebook Art of the Pie by Kate McDermott.

This is the first time a cookery book has been chosen for the Big Library Read and looks like they’ve selected a good one with hundreds of five star ratings online. One reviewer stated:

“This is a wonderful book, inspirational in every way. The writing is an unexpected joy, evocative and moving. Perfect for those of us who really do read cookbooks as well as cook from them. But the recipes themselves will become an important part of your repertoire. Partly because Kate encourages you to think flexibly about what you are doing – which crust, which filling, how to combine them. And the instructions are clear and empowering. You can tell that I like this book! It is well worth a place on your shelf and may even change your life”

To get involved  just go to our OverDrive website or app between the 16th-30th March and you’ll find Art of the Pie waiting to be checked out near the top of the homepage. Full instructions for using OverDrive can be found on our Your Library site.

So why not host a reading group with a difference where everyone brings along a pie they’ve made! There’s a fantastic range of sweet and savoury recipes to choose from.

Celebrating St Valentine’s Day with Love in Art

couples-in-artFebruary has always been a month for romance, although the origins of St Valentine’s Day itself have become murky. Way back in the day, on February 15th, pagans celebrated Lupercalia; a fertility festival dedicated to their God or Agriculture, Faunus. But the 5th century arrived all too quickly for the pagans and Lupercalia was outlawed by the Christian Church. It was replaced with St Valentine’s Day (Valentine being one of three possible Saints of the same name), and moved to February 14th.

bridal-fashionsRomance only really came to Valentine’s Day during the 14th and 15th centuries, when some clever Englishmen and Frenchmen thought February 14th was the first day of the birds’ mating season. Thus, from then on, St Valentine’s Day became a day of not only birdy romance, but a celebration of human love.

Art, literature and music have often found their muses in romance, and the work of artists, writers, poets and musicians often celebrates the love symbolised by Valentine’s Day. Find artistic inspiration in our selection of books celebrating love in art.

Our writer in residence

The Scottish Book Trust recently announced the 2017 winners of their New Writers Award. You may have seen this picture in the press or on social media. Standing front and centre is our very own, Simon Brown, Library Advisor at Fountainbridge Library!

Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award Winners 2017 - photograph by Rob McDougall

Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award Winners 2017 – photograph by Rob McDougall

We’re delighted for him and thought it only right to ask him to tell us a little bit more about the award, his writing and how this fits with working in the Library:

Simon Brown, New Writer Award Winner and Library Advisor at Fountainbridge

Simon Brown, New Writer Award Winner and Library Advisor at Fountainbridge – image by Rob McDougall

I’m still not sure this isn’t some sort of elaborate prank. Someone somewhere must’ve made a terrible mistake.

Even after having visited the lovely folks at the Scottish Book Trust and accepting a New Writers Award, it still doesn’t feel real somehow. It’s something I’ve dreamt about for years; I’m one step closer to the day when I shelve my own book – or, more likely, the day when I get an earful from a reader who hated it.

People always ask where you get your ideas from. My answer is easy: libraries. And I’m not talking about all the books on the shelves – which, as any library advisor will tell you, are just the tip of the iceberg – but the people who frequent our libraries, day in, day out.

We meet sad people, happy people, troubled people, lonely people. Sometimes these are the same person. We meet those with nothing and those with a lot. We meet refugees taking their first English classes; we meet old people who’ll talk your ear off if you’re not careful.

They all come to us. It’s impossible not to find even a little inspiration in that. I’m not just talking about writers here; we’re lucky enough to count painters, musicians, playwrights and actors among our staff. Edinburgh Libraries contain a tremendous amount of passion and creativity and perhaps we need to tap into that, now more than ever.