What does it mean to be a reader today?

Library Advisors Hope Whitmore, Fiamma Curti and Dawn Gibson share what they think it means.

eBooks, graphic novels, blogs, audio and eaudiobooks, traditional printed books, fiction, non-fiction, and that genre that falls somewhere in between the two; there are many ways to be a reader in 2022, which is why the theme of World Book Day, You Are The Reader, is great – opening, as it does, a discussion of all the ways we can be readers now.

Illustration copyright: World Book Day

As a child, I struggled to read, the weird symbols on the page that didn’t make sense until I was seven when suddenly they did. Until this miracle of clarity, I was read to by my parents, by my siblings, or cross-legged on the bumpy carpet at primary school story-time. Even then, before the symbols made sense, I was a reader. I was hungry for stories. The worlds of Narnia, The Children’s Odyssey and Mordor were all wonderfully, terrifyingly real. I fought to learn to read, not because I had to, but because I needed to, needed to experience these stories myself, without the limit of one chapter a night (though I would often plead for more.)

I guess my point here is, that even though I wasn’t reading, I was engaging with the text in a real and vivid way. Reading wasn’t simply about knowing and deciphering the letters, it was about how books placed me in the world of someone else, someone in whom I was deeply invested, someone I shared adventures with and could not bare to see left in peril. The symbols were the means, a gateway, but the real experience of reading was far bigger than they could convey.

When I see children in the library being read to, even tiny babies, I see their engagement as their parent turns the pages, their excitement and anticipation. What will the next page reveal? These tiny infants are also readers. They engage, and engage so deeply, in such a real way, that seeing them, I think, yes, this is what reading is.

I love that there are so many ways to be a reader, as a child and as an adult, so many ways to immerse yourself in a good book. While I love to prop myself up on a stack of pillows with a traditional printed book, feeling the paper in my hands as I turn page after page, I see the appeal of ereaders, their lightness and portability (a whole library in 300grams.) Audiobooks are also great. During a period of agoraphobia, I would listen with one headphone in, one out, to audiobooks as I walked to and from work – the story somehow making the real world less scary, making the walk possible.

Others see reading differently: it’s the only solitary, slow activity in a world where everything is about instant communication and speed, says one friend. I don’t see it like this, but I love that opinions and experiences of reading differ so widely.

Fellow library adviser Dawn Gibson speaks about how reading for her has always been a sanctuary:
“It’s somewhere to go when real life gets too much and I always used to choose fiction and get lost in the inventions and sagas of lives of people I would never meet. More recently I need to know facts, which in part is probably a reaction to the snippets of information that are drip fed through social media. Working amongst the wonderful collection housed within Central Library is almost like having a superpower. I know that if I want to learn about something, this could be helping my daughter to start coding, or how to bake a Swedish Bundt, I can turn to the pages of a book and discover and keep discovering. Since having children it has become almost impossible to read a book cover to cover (I have a very precarious pile of half-read books on my bedside table) but even if I manage a few pages, it still provides a quiet moment, and the opportunity to escape somewhere else for a while.”

While library adviser Fiamma Curti emphasises the fellowship of reading, the connections it forges between one person and another: 
“Sometimes reading can be a group experience, through book clubs or by forcing all your loved ones to read that one book you can’t stop thinking about. Solitary readers still sharing the experience through the story. Or you can just read around people who are reading something else, everyone lost in their own world of fiction, but all connected by the same activity. And even more, you can read and be read to, through an audiobook put on during a long car journey, by reading to someone over the phone, in person before bed. Reading is a wonderful way of connecting not just with the great authors of past and present, with their character and their world, but also with those around you, creating beautiful communities with strangers and strengthening connections with friends.”

There can seem, at times, to be a division within reading, between what is real reading, and what isn’t, but I think that our varied experiences show this not to be real. I’ve been guilty of seeing some books as having a veneer of dust, similar to that on a butterfly’s wings – dust that is not to be disturbed by someone like me, but this too is a fallacy.

Fiamma agrees and goes further:
“Sometimes people preclude themselves from wonderful reading experiences because they don’t think they are going to get it. I see that happening a lot with one of my favourite things in the world: poetry. I often hear ‘I don’t get it,’ or ‘I’m not smart enough for it,’ and to that I reply: there is nothing to get. The beauty of reading is that you shape the book as much as the writer did when creating it. Once the book is in your hands what you get out of it is always right, because it is about your connection with it. Sometimes with poetry all I “get” is the rhythm of the words, sometimes it’s just one image that sticks with me, other times I get nothing until I re-read the poems months later. It’s all valid, it’s all good. As long as engaging with the text makes me feel something, then I’m reading it right.”

She continues,
“Reading is so wonderful because there is no wrong way of doing it. If you want to read a series out of order, no one can stop you. Skip a whole chapter if you’d like. Read the dialogue first and then go back for the description. Skim the page, skip a paragraph, go back to it at the end of the chapter. Leave a book half read and never look back. You, the reader, are the master of your own reading experience. I love to read the last line of any novel before I even start them. It usually makes no sense, sometimes it’s a massive spoiler, but it’s my way of reading and therefore it’s right for me.”

One of the reasons Central Library is so excellent, is the variety of books. As a staff member you can step from the hustle of the library floor with the red new stock trolleys, into the hush of the annex, where the old books live and breathe their dust. There is a magic about stepping from one to another, just as there is in moving from non-fiction to general fiction, to graphic novels and science fiction. There is space afforded to all these, as well as large print, books in various languages, ebooks and eaudiobooks. The latter gained massive popularity in lockdown on our Libby, BorrowBox and uLIBRARY apps, when we couldn’t be open as a physical building. They have maintained this popularity afterwards – which is brilliant. eBooks and downloadable audiobooks are a great extension to our library offer, as well as reaching out to people who might want a book and yet are not able to come into the library.

The inclusiveness of our collections, that we do not – will never – gatekeep, that we have something for everyone, is part of the magic of Edinburgh Libraries, and this is what I think it means to celebrate, you, the reader.

Illustration copyright: World Book Day

What have you been reading?!

Our downloadable library has proved a lifeline to many during the pandemic and Edinburgh Libraries has seen usage of its ebook, audiobooks, newspaper and magazine services grow over this period. But, what have you all been reading over the last year and is it any different from anywhere else in the UK?!

You have borrowed over 205,000 ebooks from our Libby by OverDrive service this year! Surprisingly only three* of the titles on our top ten loans match those of the rest of the UK. Many of our top lenders have a decidedly Scottish theme or author –

  1. A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone – 1,050 loans
  2. The Thursday Murder Club* by Richard Osman – 938 loans
  3. Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro – 689 loans
  4. The Hoarder by Jess Kidd – 652 loans
  5. In Dark Water by Lynne McEwan– 642 loans
  6. What He Knew by Marion Todd– 497 loans
  7. Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming – 432 loans
  8. The Sentinel* by Lee Child – 411 loans
  9. The Sea Gate by Jane Johnson – 407 loans
  10. The Coffin Maker’s Garden by Stuart MacBride – 402 loans

You read over 2.3 million newspaper copies last year through our PressReader service, making newspapers by far our most popular downloadable resource. The Scotsman however is our run-away favourite newspaper read –

  1. The Scotsman – 441,021 loans
  2. The Guardian – 161, 162 loans
  3. Daily Telegraph – 144,243 loans
  4. The Herald – 122, 476 loans
  5. Scottish Daily Mail – 91,279 loans
  6. Daily Mail – 74,421 loans
  7. The Independent – 61,467 loans
  8. Daily Record – 60,645 loans
  9. Daily Express – 44,670 loans
  10. The Observer – 25,510 loans

Again only four* of the national top issuers make it on to our Libby list with Scottish themes again dominating some of the top spots. Crime and thrillers also feature strongly. This selection comes from Libby, but we offer three audiobook services with a different range of titles on each –

  1.  Klara and the Sun* by Kazuo Ishiguro – 518 loans
  2.  A Song for the Dark Times* by Ian Rankin – 497 loans
  3.  Luckenbooth by Jenni Fagan – 426 loans
  4. The Coffinmaker’s Garden* by Stuart MacBride – 383 loans
  5. The Cut by Chris Brookmyre – 335 loans
  6. The Duke and I by Julia Quinn – 329 loans
  7.  Lockdown by Peter May – 321 loans
  8.  Midwinter Murder by Agatha Christie- 289 loans
  9. The World’s Worst Parents by David Walliams – 285 loans
  10. Cold Mourning* by Brenda Chapman – 281 loans

Our top magazines on Libby are pretty much the same as everywhere else except for the inclusion of The Week and surprisingly The New Yorker! Both our Libby and PressReader magazine services have over 3,000 magazines in them each. Top magazines on PressReader include the TV Times and Auto Express –

  1.  HELLO! – 2,831 loans
  2.  The Economist – 2,050 loans
  3.  New Scientist – 1,557 loans
  4.  Good Housekeeping – 1,432 loans
  5.  Woman’s Weekly – 1,368 loans
  6.  BBC Good Food Magazine – 1,283 loans
  7.  The New Yorker – 1,211 loans
  8. The Week – 1,052 loans
  9.  Radio Times – 987 loans
  10. Woman – 832 loans

Find out how to use our downloadable services at www.edinburgh.gov.uk/library2go

Temporary closure of Libraries – Update

We want you to know that we are keen to reopen libraries in line with the Scottish Government route map which allows for this from 26th April 2021, where safe to do so.
However, as you know this is in a context of challenges – including the Scottish Government guidance /roadmap and the continuing pressure on resources to keep our school population safe.

The health and safety of citizens and staff is our main priority. We work closely with our colleagues in Facilities Management, Health and Safety, Environmental Health and Estates to ensure this.

We intend to reopen library buildings on a similar model to pre-Christmas 2020. However, it is a complex process to identify and allocate resources when there are many competing priorities in the City.

For this reason, it is not yet possible to be specific on exact locations or dates for reopening. Please be assured that much work is continuing in the background, to plan for library reopening.

Thank you for your continued understanding and patience, we hope to be able to open our doors and welcome you back into our buildings as soon as we can.

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

Covid Test Centres
From Monday 22 March until at least the end of August, Leith Library, Newington Library, Sighthill Library at Gate 55 and Oxgangs Library will operate as Covid Test Centres. The buildings will be operated by the NHS for this period and no library transactions or staff will be available during this time.

RBdigital audiobooks move to OverDrive

This month has seen the transfer of our RBdigital audiobook collection to our OverDrive service. Over two thousand adult, teen and children’s audiobooks were moved to the OverDrive Libby app and OverDrive website more than doubling the collection available here and making it easier to find and download your favourite books. You’ll find best-selling authors such as Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, Chris Brookmyre, Jojo Moyes and David Nicholls.

Over 4,000 audiobook titles are available on OverDrive along with almost 10,000 ebooks. Many of the audiobooks are multi-access, meaning no waiting and instant access. Over lockdown lots of people have discovered the joy of listening to books whilst at home for company and its great whilst you are doing other things such as cleaning, cooking or gardening. Logging into the Libby app is super-easy too – you just use your library card number and PIN. Full user instructions can be found on our Your Library website.

If you were previously an RBdigital user, but have not been able to login to OverDrive drop an email to informationdigital@edinburgh.gov.uk and we’ll quickly sort it out for you.

Love audiobooks? Check out our other audiobook platforms – BorrowBox and uLIBRARY for a further range of authors and titles.

Reading around the world by Hope Whitmore and Cecylia O’May

One part of the library I have always felt drawn to is the travel spinner. Diagonal to the travel guides, it’s easy to walk past on the way to other books – useful books, which tell you where to stay in foreign cities, what restaurants to eat at, how to see the sights in a day. Suddenly though travel guides are no longer what they were. Instead of a selection of possibilities, we are faced, on opening them, with a world of impossibility. There is a sadness to these useful books, a wistfulness to the festivals listed, the convivial atmosphere cited, the bustling cafes and packed streets described.

2020 has been the year that travel went away, leaving us alone, as it were on a dusty train platform, our little case in hand, with no place to go, and no way to get there. Travel guides are poetic reminders of a world we once had, and will have again, but maybe not for a while.

The travel spinner is different. These books are not designed for purpose, rather they represent adventure, exploration and discovering something as yet undiscovered.

In this spinner are tales of Arctic adventures, walks across the Middle East, people who relocated to France or Spain or Italy and found something of themselves on the way. Spanning decades and centuries, the travel spinner tells not only of destinations the authors have visited, but the dusty slopes or frozen tundra they traversed to get there, and the people they met on the way.

While travel guides feel sad, robbed for now, of their purpose, these narratives of adventures old and new, ranging from Robert Byron’s The road to Oxiana to Rory Stewart’s The Places In Between charting his walk across war torn Afghanistan in 2002, the travel spinner contains books which can transport you not only to different places, but also different times, even in these Covid days.

Here, library staff members Hope Whitmore and Cecylia O’May choose their favourite books which can take you on adventures, even as you sit at home.

Berlin: Imagine a City by Rory MacLean is Cecylia’s favourite travel book, although as the member of staff who runs the Found In Translation Book Group, she is someone who literally reads around the world.

Berlin by Rory MacLean is not your typical travel book. Although it tells the story of Berlin, it is not your typical history book either. It takes you on a journey through Berlin with people who lived there. Starting with the portrait of poet, Konrad von Cölln in medieval times, and arriving at the twenty-first century and the story of Ilse Philips, a child who came to the UK in the Kinder transport. Along the way it tells the stories of Frederick the Great, Kathe Kollwitz, Marlene Dietrich, John F. Kennedy, David Bowie and many more characters who shaped that great city. 

First and foremost, it tells the story of Berlin from its brightest to its darkest moments. It’s a great read not only for those who know Berlin but also for those who have never been. This book will inspire you to go and visit one day when it’s safe to do so.”

Hope, who works in Central Lending, cites her favourite travel book as Laurie Lee’s As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning.

“As young man, with very little money, Laurie Lee set out from his family’s small village in Gloucestershire, on foot, to London, where he lived in boarding houses for a year, scribbling poetry and making money where he could, before boarding a boat to Spain. 

‘Take me with you,’ say all the girls, and before he leaves his landlady’s young daughter – a child – stands on tiptoes, kisses his cheek and whispers ‘take me with you,’ too.

Flawed by the very things which create the magic — the youthful exuberance of the young Laurie Lee, and the nostalgia of the older author looking back on days which were almost certainly not as innocent and carefree as he thinks — As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning, is enchanting, evocative and immersive, taking the reader to Spain in 1935. A Spain with long dry roads, bosky wine, dry bread, friendly people, and the rumblings, distant but ever nearer, of fascism.

The book ends with Laurie Lee being unwillingly rescued; evacuated to Gibraltar, with other British citizens, and from there taken home. The next year, he took a boat to France, crossing the Pyrenees in the snow alone to reach Spain and join the Republicans in their battle against Franco, as Fascism came in like an unstoppable wave over much of Europe. He wrote of this experience in A Moment of War.”

You may not be able to travel at the moment, but the travel spinner awaits you in the newly reopened Central Lending, ready to take you on adventures the world over.

Six of our libraries have reopened for browsing and borrowing. Please book your visit in advance via our online booking form or by phoning the library.

Six Edinburgh Libraries Reopen from Tuesday 6 October

The first phase of reopening libraries will see a selection of branches across the city opening on Tuesday 6 October.

The six branches are:

Central Library
Kirkliston Library
McDonald Road Library
Fountainbridge Library
Stockbridge Library
Newington Library

Initially at least, services will be restricted. As you might expect, numbers within buildings will be limited and social distancing measures will be in place. Face coverings are mandatory in Libraries.

From Tuesday 6 October you can:
return your books
pick up Hey Girls sanitary products

You will have to book a slot to:
browse and borrow books
use a public computer
apply for a National Entitlement Card (bus pass)
collect hearing aid batteries

For more information visit the Libraries Reopening page.

You can make your booking online here.

Or by phoning one of the six branches above.

We appreciate your support and look forward to welcoming you back.

Edinburgh Libraries are supporting NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect. To stop the spread of Coronavirus we’ll record your name, contact telephone number, date of your visit, time of arrival and departure. We have a lawful basis to process your information. Contacting people who might have been exposed to coronavirus is an important step in stopping the spread. Your information will be held securely, controlled by City of Edinburgh Libraries and will be destroyed after 21 days. Your information will only be used if requested by NHS Scotland or statutory partners. You have the right to have your data erased or corrected. Full Collection of Data Privacy Notice. 

Instant access to ebooks and audiobooks

This New Year we are running a fantastic promotion for non-library users offering them free instant access to ebooks and audiobooks on OverDrive without the need for a library card. If you read this blog you are probably already a member of the library, but do you know someone who isn’t, but would love free ebook and audiobook downloads? Please spread the word to your friends, family and work colleagues! 

Anyone over 13 years old with an EH postcode home, work or study address can sign up for instant access in seconds. All you need is a mobile phone number and the access code – Library2go. Thousands of best-selling books for adults, teens and children are available through OverDrive’s website or the Libby app. It’s a fantastic way to make the most of your electronic Christmas presents and to save money!

This promotion gives you access to OverDrive for three months.  However, its easy for people to keep on using the service for free by joining the library and receiving a permanent membership card. 

To find out how to get started go to  www.edinburgh.gov.uk/IDC This access option will be available from 7 January – 7 February 2020.

Libraries Week focus: ebooks


Today we’re highlighting our ebook collection for Libraries Week. We have a truly fantastic ebook service at Edinburgh Libraries offering you access to 12,500 titles for adults, teens and kids. You’ll find a wide range of genres in fiction and non-fiction – there’s definately something for everyone!

Our OverDrive system makes it super easy for you to find and borrow books whether through their fantastic Libby app on your tablet or phone or their website on your computer. Some of our favourite things about OverDrive are-

  1. It’s super-easy to get started – just login with your library card and PIN
  2. You can borrow from anywhere – at home, on the bus, or on the beach in Spain
  3. You can change the font / size / background colour to suit your own eyesight
  4. New stock is added twice a month to keep the site fresh
  5. You can borrow ten titles (in addition to your physical loans from the library)
  6. When the library is closed – OverDrive is open! Its like having a library branch in your own home
  7. There is a dyslexic font available
  8. You can access a great range of specialised collections – Reading Well for Mental Health,  LGBT, Bibliotherapy, Read-a-long ebook/audiobooks for children
  9. As well as ebooks there’s audiobooks and comics on OverDrive
  10. You’ll find Polish ebooks and audiobooks available too

OverDrive is incredibly easy to use and you’ll find full user
instructions available on our Your Library website. Or why not pop in to our drop-in sessions at Central Library every Tuesday from 2-3.30pm where you can get help setting up your mobile device and all your questions answered.

Top Ten eBooks

Ever wondered just what people read on our OverDrive eBook service? Well here’s the current top ten most popular online books with our readers –

Becoming by Michelle Obama

The biography from the former American First Lady is top of our charts.Looking like this is going to be our most popular ebook ever! Is also the most popular audiobook too (available through RBdigital).


Past Tense by Lee Child

Find out about Jack Reacher’s latest escapades. Our readers can’t get enough of Lee Child novels, which is why you’ll find 66 of his ebooks and audiobooks available on OverDrive. Also available on BorrowBox as audiobook.


Normal People by Sally Rooney

Winning prizes all over the place, this is the book of the moment. Follow the story of Connell and Marianne who grow up in a small town in rural Ireland and how their relationship effects their lives as they move in to adulthood. Audiobook also available on RBdigital.


Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

THE book of 2018 – if you’ve not read it yet, then why?! Meet Eleanor who has learned how to survive – but not how to live and follow her as life comes knocking on her door. Also available on RBdigital as audiobook.


Mythos by Stephen Fry

A surprising, but enchanting hit in both ebook and audiobook format – Stephen Fry vividly retells the tales of the Greek Gods in an entertaining and enthusiastic manner.



This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay

This will make you laugh, it will also make you cry, but perhaps most importantly it will make you think. This diary of a junior doctor opens a window into the NHS from the other side and you’ll never think about it the same way again. Also available as audiobook on BorrowBox.


Milkman by Anna Burns

Another highly acclaimed novel, that tackles the Northern Ireland conflict from the perspective of an 18-year-old girl with no interest in the troubles, who’s aim is to stay as invisible as possible. As available on RBdigital as audiobook.


Transcription by Kate Atkinson

Another bestselling novel from one of Scotland’s top writers. In 1940, Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into MI5. After the war she presumes the events of those years are over, but soon learns that there are no actions without consequences. Also available on BorrowBox as audiobook.


The Little Cafe in Copenhagen by Julie Caplin

Glad to see our readers like a little light-hearted romance too!  Described as “Danish happiness and hygge in one un-put-down-able story” this is the perfect read for a chilly night.



The Subtle Art of not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

Well last in our line up is a self-help book with a difference (hence the title!). It’s a much-needed grab you by the shoulders and look you in the eye moment of real-talk, filled with entertaining stories and profane, ruthless humour. Available on OverDrive as ebook and audiobook..


So surprised at our top ten? Or hopefully impressed by the great choice of acclaimed and popular titles available now to download! Access these titles from our Libby or OverDrive apps or the OverDrive website. Full instructions for using our ebook service can be found at www.edinburgh.gov.uk/overdrive.

Join in with our audiobook group

Love audiobooks? Then come along to our monthly Stockbridge Library audiobook group starting on Friday 16 November, 2.30-3.30pm. You’ll get tea, biscuits and some lovely chat about our chosen audiobook! Our first title is Shaun Bythell’s The Diary of a Bookseller.

Shaun owns The Bookshop, Wigtown – Scotland’s largest second-hand bookshop. In these wry and hilarious diaries, he provides an inside look at the trials and tribulations of life in the book trade, from struggles with eccentric customers to wrangles with his own staff. He takes us with him on buying trips to old estates, recommends books and evokes the rhythms and charms of small-town life.

This audiobook is available for you to borrow for free from our RBdigital service. Simply download to your phone, tablet or computer to join in. Full user instructions can be found on our RBdigital help pages or get in touch with the Digital Team if you need any extra help (informationdigital@edinburgh.gov.uk  0131 242 8047).

Some of our favourite books of 2017

Ever wondered what your library staff choose to read? We asked colleagues to recommend their favourite books from last year.

Susan’s book of the year was Fingers in the Sparkle Jar by Chris Packham
“This memoir, mostly covering Chris’s childhood and young adulthood, will be unlike anything you have ever read.  His prose is so rich and description laden and you quickly realise that this is how Chris sees the world – in intricate detail; a series of tastes, smells and sensations that he remembers with complete clarity even years later. It was such a privilege to be given access to someone else’s mind and to experience what it’s like to have Asperger’s. The descriptions of young Chris’ connections to animals and nature are both extraordinary and heartbreaking. Rarely has a memoir been written with such honesty, it truly is a unique and special book.”
Available as an ebook

Clare recommends Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
“Based on a true story, a group of people are brought together in their desperation to flee war-torn Europe. Upsetting and gripping, it’s not an easy read. Despite being set during World War Two, the story’s themes resonate with the world today: a vital read.”
Available as an ebook


Karen says,
“If you don’t want anything too taxing, then read Mick Herron’s Slough House series. The first one is ‘Slow Horses’, but I think you could read them in any order and still enjoy. Certainly, ‘Spook Street’ was both funny and suspenseful. I’m now reading all the series!”


Win has read a few this year, some of them better than others… however, she’s just started The stars are fire by Anita Shreve, one of her favourite authors.
“Her prose is wonderful – pared back – but, in those short paragraphs and sentences, she draws a picture of the characters. She opens up the lives of ordinary people and compels us to walk beside them as their stories emerge. She writes with ease, and I always feel confident in her ability to write a cracking good read. I get hooked very quickly each time I start one of her books!”

Nicola really enjoyed His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet
“This was a really disturbingly dark read, but one which has you gripped from the start to finish! It’s set in the 19th century in a small crofting community in the Highlands. The historical content and attention to detail were brilliantly executed and I really felt the sense of oppression and poverty of that period.
A gruesome crime has taken place and the reader hears the confession of the main protagonist Roddy, but there is a lot more that is gradually to be uncovered which explains the circumstances which led to Roddy’s actions. I ended up having a great deal of sympathy for the main character, which was completely unexpected.
It was a fascinating read, especially the detail of day to day life in a crofting community, and the influence and corruption exerted by those in authority.
I would highly recommend this book.”
Available as an ebook

Janette chose The Tent, the Bucket and Me by Emma Kennedy.
“I had a notion a few months ago, that I would randomly pick a book of the type I wouldn’t normally go for and see what I found. Well, this was one of them.
Emma recalls tales of nine consecutive years of camping holiday catastrophes with her mother and father in the 1970s, whether it was being swept away by a force ten gale on the Welsh coast or suffering copious amounts of food poisoning on a trip to the south of France. It’s been a long time since I have laughed out loud reading a book, but I did with this one.”
Available as an ebook

And ahead of this year’s anniversary of Muriel Spark’s birth, Carol’s book of the year was revisiting The prime of Miss Jean Brodie.
“She is a fantastic writer. I read it for my book group, there were lots of themes to talk about: social class, schooling, adolescence, society and politics in the 1930s, gender. Plus, the crème de la crème – Edinburgh, of course!”
Available as an ebook

What was your favourite book of the year?


Happy Read an eBook Day!

Today is Read an eBook Day!  eBooks enable you to take the stories and authors you love with you anytime, anywhere. If you have a smartphone, tablet or computer you can be connected to a world of literature whether you’re sitting on your couch, on an airplane 30,000 feet in the air and anywhere in between!

They save you space in your suitcases, can’t be lost or damaged and can be accessed at the click of a button. If you’ve never tried reading an ebook before, today is the perfect time to try one out! Borrow one of your favourite books or something completely new and discover the joys of digital reading.

Checkout our OverDrive ebook service today – stop off at the Your Library website first to find all the information you need to be able to start downloading in minutes.

Today you also have the chance to win a Kobo Aura One ereader. Simply check out an ebook from OverDrive and then “share” on social media what you are reading using the hashtag #eBookLove and you’ll be entered into a prize draw. For more information and to see what everyone else is reading see the Read an eBook Day website.

Tools out for summer!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summer Reading Challenge

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

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

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

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

Seven uses for your library card besides borrowing books


Could you be getting more from your library card?

Here are seven things that magic little piece of plastic entitles you to – and they are all wonderfully FREE:

1. Download free emagazines and newspapers with PressReader and Zinio

2. Read scholarly journals with Access to Research

3. Get help setting up a new business using the COBRA database

4. Trace your family tree with Ancestry

5. Get book recommendations from a real life librarian

6. Stream music with Naxos

7. Take a mock driving theory test with Theory Test Pro

How do you use yours?







How does using the library benefit you?

Library members and users are invited to join a focus group discussion about their use of Edinburgh Libraries, at Edinburgh Central Library on Thursday 5th November from 11 am  – 12 noon.

The group is run as part of a wider research project seeking to investigate the impact and value that public libraries have in the UK.

If you are interested in participating please call 07969 513087 or email l.appleton@napier.ac.uk

Refreshments will be served at the meeting and participants will receive a £10 Amazon voucher for taking part.

A helpful new feature on the library catalogue

We know that many of you use the handy ‘lists’ function on the library catalogue to keep a track of books you want to read, so we thought you might like to know that you can now add notes to any of the items you’ve got on your list.


These notes will show up on any lists you choose to make public.

For an introduction to using lists see our previous post on ‘how to be a superborrower‘.


Your personal reading recommendations

“Received my recommendations today. Thanks very much, they’re really interesting and not books I’d have discovered myself. Great!” 

Want to broaden your reading horizons?

Simply fill in this form and we’ll get back to you with five unique reading suggestions.

And that’s it! What are you waiting for?

Level Up at Wester Hailes

lvlup5Level Up launched last year in Wester Hailes Library as a way to tackle low levels of reading among teenagers using the library. The library adopted an innovative approach to try to boost the reading habits among this group which tied reading into the more familiar territory of computer games.

We caught up with the level uppers at their AGM (yep, they take this seriously) as they plan the year ahead. A group of around 14 teenagers sit enthusiastically pitching ideas to Library Officer Tony Stewart for future activities and reward nights which include games tournaments, minecraft sessions to pizza nights and archery. The caveat being these must be earned through the accumulation of xp points they gain from reading.

lvlUp2Tony explains: “We brought  these two worlds together and in order to keep it as a group we made it weekly and based it around interesting activities for them to do and at the same time encourage them to take out books.  Gaining XP points as they take out books then creates a sense of achievement through reading.”

“The XP awarded to a book is based simply on how long the book is. Each list includes   5 short books/graphic novels, some of which are dyslexic friendly, and 5 longer books. This is to give those who have issues with reading the option of an easier read. Reading the shorter books means reading more books to reach the level cap but this adds to the sense of achievement in completing the level, encouraging them to try a longer book in the next.”

Like any game Level Up starts on “LvL1”. This consists of a list of 10 books, each with its own amount of XP reward. Once the player reaches the 1000 XP cap they can then move onto “LvL2” which has its own list of books and so on. Along the way the readers are given stickers to add to their reading journal to document their journey.

lvlUp4Tony says this approach has made a real difference: “We have seen higher borrowing levels in all the kids who take part and greater self-confidence and more enthusiasm for the library in general.”

“They all seem to have a feeling of ownership for the group as well which is one of the things we aimed to achieve. This has bonded the group quite tightly together.  They come to the weekly meetings now and take part in activities and now all leave with a few books tucked under their arms to get their xp points.

We have some who aren’t confident readers who are taking out books. They aren’t taking out tonnes or reading them all but even if they read a few I feel it makes a difference and we are making some progress.”

Everyone is also encouraged to share their new love of reading and discuss what they’ve been reading. This can take place during one of their weekly sessions or through a micro book review which they post to the Level Up twitter feed.  During our visit everyone is busy writing a love letter to the library, an event promoted as part of Book Week Scotland.

LevelUP Letters

Some of the boys taking part are happy to point out the benefits of the group:

Alex: I’ve been doing this for over a year. It’s great taking part in all the activities and games. I like building up my points and collecting the stickers and achievements for reading. It’s  good to come along to a group where you are rewarded for learning.

Daniel: You get different points for different books so there’s always something you can find to suit you. I’m currently on 595 xp.  I definitely take out more books now and where I never used to read much before and now sit at home and read for ages.

With the future year getting planned out so diligently it looks like Level Up has become a firm fixture in the regular events at Wester Hailes calendar and  is likely to expand out to some of the other libraries in the city.  If you are interested in taking part, ask in your local library for more details.

Follow Level Up and read reviews on twitter: @LVLUPxp

How to be a super-borrower

Five tips to help you save time choosing, ordering and collecting your books from the library. Leaving you more time to READ!

Choosing made easy

Out of the many book recommendation sites out there, two of our favourites are WhichBook, which has a really unique way of finding the right book for you, and if you have a favourite author or genre Who Else Writes Like? makes finding new authors you’ll love a piece of cake.

Reserve and collect

So you’ve found the books you want to read. Next step is to reserve them on the library catalogue to be delivered to your nearest library.


We’ll email you when your books are ready for collection. So simple!

Make a reading wishlist. Or two. Or three.

But what if your to-read list is so long that it’s just not practical to reserve everything at once? Log in to your account and save these titles to a list.

save to list


You can have as many lists as you want, and you can make them public to share with other library members, or if you prefer, keep them private.


Add a book review to the catalogue

Once you’ve finished a book you can share your thoughts with other library members by posting a review on the library catalogue.



If you need any help with any of this, JUST ASK! You don’t even need to be in the library to do so. You can phone, email, tweet, or even leave a message on your library’s Facebook page.

Happy reading.