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.

Page Flipper the penguin visits the Library

Central Library’s Dyslexia Chatterbooks Group meets on the last Tuesday of each month in the Central Children’s Library. page-flipper-2The following is an extract from a story created by the group at a recent meeting. The children started by putting their ideas together on a storyboard with the help of Library Advisor, Beth Cochrane. The original idea for the story started with a missing toy Penguin, who mysteriously turned up in the library one day…

When he entered Page Flipper found himself surrounded by lots and lots of books, so he decided to pick one up and read it. It was called ‘The Giant Penguin Book.’ But as he started to read, he started to grow! Once he had finished the book, he realised he was now a giant penguin!

After searching for more fun and interesting books, Page Flipper found himself a little bitpage-flipper-1 lost. He shouted for help, and along came a friendly librarian. With a big smile on her face she said: “Hello! My name’s Sophie, would you like to come to our Chatterbooks?” Page Flipper was happy to be invited so along he went, and made lots of new friends at Chatterbooks. So many new friends, in fact, that he decided he would live in the Library forever!

For more information about the Dyslexic Chatterbooks Group contact carol.marr@edinburgh.gov.uk

And Another Winner!

We ran not one, but two competitions as part of our Digital Reading Week at the beginning of November! The lucky winner of our OverDrive competition was Sally Butler. Sally borrowed some ebooks to go on holiday and came home to find that she was the recipient of a shiny new Fire Tablet.

sally-butlerIt was great to hear that Sally has been using our OverDrive service since its inception in 2010 finding it especially useful when travelling. The beauty of it is that you can checkout new titles from anywhere whether you are in the South of France or the doctors waiting room!

New titles are added to OverDrive every two weeks meaning there is always something new to check out. If you don’t find anything you fancy remember that users can always recommend titles and authors using our Book Recommendation Form.

Green Pencil Awards 2016

Last week the Central Library hosted this year’s Green Pencil Award Ceremony when 20 finalists, their friends and families and other special guests came to the awards ceremony held in the Reference Library on Thursday 24th of November. Councillor Richard Lewis attended to hand out the prizes.

Photograph of Green Pencil Award

The 2016 finalists from left to right
Bethany Woodburn – Cargilfield School, Megan Rutherford – Bruntsfield Primary, Afra Schwannauer – Preston Street Primary, Jemma Cattanach – Bruntsfield Primary, Catherine Byrne – Cargilfield School, Alice McGuire – Hermitage Park Primary, Greta Grant – Leith Primary, Councillor Richard Lewis, Lily Chatwood – Leith Primary, Cara Campbell – Pentland Primary, Catriona Simpson – Preston Street Primary, Finlay Black – Cargilfield School, Blair Henderson – Clifton Hall School, Rachael Smyth – Davdison’s Mains Primary, Natalie Ruzgar – St Margaret’s Primary, Amy Brand – Oxgangs Primary, Samuel Joester – Wardie Primary, Rose Kinsler – Sciennes Primary, Seren McDougall – Bruntsfield Primary

This year the theme was ‘Scotland’s Glorious Gardens’, Edinburgh school pupils in the P4 to P7 age range were inspired by the many gardens, parks and green spaces that we are lucky enough to have, and to enjoy using, here in the City.

Photograph of Councillor Richard Lewis and Green Pencil Award winner

Councillor Richard Lewis congratulates the winner, Rachael Smyth from Davidson’s Mains Primary

The Award aims to promote literacy, in particular reading and creative writing and firing the imagination. It also helps raise awareness and encourages learning about nature and other important environmental topics.

Photography of Green Pencil Award

Rose Kinsler from Sciennes Primary reads her entry to the crowd

This is the ninth year the competition has run. This year’s competition was launched by the author Vivian French on September 1st at Central Children’s Library and Princes Street Gardens with pupils from Preston Street Primary School.

The Green Pencil Award

The Green Pencil Award

The night was a great success and we very much look forward to next year’s competition.

And the winner is….

As part of our Digital Reading Week we ran a competition for BorrowBox users to win a iPad Mini and we are pleased to announce that our winner was Mrs Mary Oliver! Mary popped into the Central Library to collect her prize and stayed for a wee chat and a glamorous photo shoot! It was great to find out that Mary has been using our OverDrive and OneClickdigital services for the last couple of years and had recently started using BorrowBox too – “I find BorrowBox the easiest of the apps to use, within a couple of clicks you are listening to an audiobook”.

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Mary told us that she likes to use all of our downloadable audiobook services to get as wide a range of titles as possible – “Romances are my favourites. I listen to audiobooks in bed at night, saves me disturbing my husband with rustling pages and the light on!!”. She is also a fan of ebooks too, preferring to read these during the day, and especially enjoying titles by Maeve Binchy. It turned out that Mary was a familiar face as she had used our Tuesday afternoon drop-in sessions in the Central Library for help when she was having problems downloading books and this was also where she’d been introduced to BorrowBox.

BorrowBox is our newest downloadable audiobook service and has a growing collection of bestsellers including titles by James Patterson, David Baldacci, Alexander McCall Smith and Kate Aitkinson. It does have the easiest the use app ever and you can always renew your book even if someone else has has put a hold on it.

Thanks again to Mary for coming in and having her photo taken – we hope she’ll have lots of fun downloading ebooks and audiobooks with her new iPad!

The Butterfly Tree and the Lost Child

In 2011, the first mystery paper sculpture was discovered in the Scottish Poetry Library. It was an incredibly delicate gift; a tree growing out of a book, an eggshell of poems and a little card with read:

dsc_4944_582“@ByLeavesWeLive and became a tree….We know that a library is so much more than a building full of books… a book is so much more than pages full of words…This is for you in support of libraries, books, words, ideas..”

More sculptures were discovered that year at the National Library of Scotland, the National Museum of Scotland, the Filmhouse, the Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust, the Edinburgh Writers’ Museum, the Edinburgh International Book Festival and here at Edinburgh Central Library.

The identity of the artist was withheld, and to this day we don’t know who the artist is.

We do know that this sculpture, the Butterfly Tree and the Lost Child, is dsc_4953_591her last and we are tremendously privileged to have it here at Central Library.

You can see the small sculptures donated to Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust and the Edinburgh International Book Festival in Central Library’s foyer or online on our Capital Collections Website. You can go to Wikipedia for more information on all the sculptures.