Central Library’s BookCafe is back for Autumn!

We’re almost ready for our autumn season and we’re looking forward to sharing some great new finds with you! We’ve been digging around for interesting new (and old) work that’ll be perfect for your lunchtime listening.

Our BookCafe isn’t an ordinary book group; it’s a shared reading group. We come together to listen to a book, short story or poem being read aloud. You can say as much or as little as you like, and just listening is fine too. It’s a simple as that.

If you’ve never been to a shared reading group before, and are wondering if it’s for you, please come along and say hello. We run 1 – 2pm once a month so you can pop in on your lunch break and see what you think. And, as well as good stories, good poems and good chat – there’ll be plenty tea and biscuits to go round too!

Our dates for Autumn/Winter are:

20th September, 18th October, 15th November & 20th December

We love our BookCafe and we’re sure you will too, but you’ve heard enough from us. Here’s what our members say:

‘It’s an hour of calm in my day’

‘It’s such a great way to leave your day at the door and focus on something completely different for an hour’

‘Coming to the BookCafe really makes my week’

Book online at www.edinburghreads.eventbrite.co.uk or drop in on the day!


Switch energy supplier – online workshop

Changeworks is an organisation which informs and enables householders to live in affordably warm homes. Advisors will be at Central Library, George IV Bridge on Wednesday 13 September from 2 – 4pm to show you how to better manage your gas and electricity costs online.

In this interactive workshop you will:

  • find out about cheaper tariffs and discounts
  • learn how to compare prices of different suppliers
  • learn how to choose a new supplier
  • gain confidence in using supplier websites

If you have a mobile computing device bring it along and get help straightaway but, even if you don’t, we will have laptops on which to show you what you can do


A library is more than a building of books…

‘A library is more than a building of books,’ the anonymous book sculptor wrote on the note attached to her first gift, a sculpture crafted from the pages of books and left anonymously in the Scottish Poetry Library.

These beautiful book sculptures are a love letter to libraries, and a celebration of the power of story. A paper egg at the foot of a swirling paper oak holds a jigsaw of words to form the Edwin Morgan poem, A Trace of Wings –  a poem which tells us that we see beauty in a flash, a glance, and then it is gone like a flash of a bunting’s wings.

The sixth paper book sculpture: Lost in a good book…

The book sculptures, however, remain a glimpse of beauty and generosity in a world which is so often hard and cynical. One gift depicts a reader lost in a forest of words, the trees cut from pages rising high behind her. What you do not see you can imagine – the deep blue sky in the background as night falls, the crackles and rustles and forest-y sounds which the lone reader is too absorbed to hear, the comforting sense of darkness, the warming sense of cold, the cosiness of the sculpture sings. The black text on the white paper has always made me think of snow.



The fifth paper book sculpture: Tea, cake and a book

Other gifts are a paper cinema screen from which the characters explode, running towards the enthralled audience; a dinosaur coming boldly to life from between the covers of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Lost World; an old-school gramophone which you feel really is playing the songs of the 1950s as couples dance slowly unseen in the background; a cup of tea and a cake. From the fantastical to the everyday, the sculptor tells us, there is magic in books and stories which cannot be found elsewhere – a cup of tea and a dinosaur are not incompatible, the comfort of one and the danger of the other sing, and herein lies the beauty of stories.


The seventh paper book sculpture: Magnifying glass

That the sculptures were gifted anonymously is a sign of generosity not only of the sculptor herself (though this is undeniable) but also of stories – the deep humanity of the words we use to pass stories on from one person to the next, mother to child, elder to younger, author to reader. The sculptures reflect the infinite magic of libraries like Edinburgh Central Library, the National Library of Scotland and the Scottish Poetry Library, where the shelves are lined with books, between the covers of which are endless adventures and ideas, if you dare to open the cover.



Four of these sculptures are on display in Central Library – works of art for everyone who loves stories, created by a fellow wanderer in the forests of fiction. Stories are what make us human. These sculptures remind us of that, and they are truly beautiful.

This blog post was written by Hope Whitmore, writer and member of the Central Library team. You can read more of her gorgeous writing on her Barnes & Noble Review page.

The last book sculpture: Butterfly Tree and the Lost Child

10×10 Stories from Finland: a donation to Edinburgh Libraries

Visitors to Edinburgh’s Central Library  will be able to sample a special selection of Nordic noir, as well as sci-fi, history and poetry, thanks to a delivery by the Finnish Institute in London.

Jaakko nousiainen and cllr
Jaakko Nousiainen and Cllr Alison Dickie

The Capital is one of 10 locations chosen by the Institute together with the Finnish Embassy, to receive a consignment of literature by Finnish authors, translated into English.

The ‘10×10 Stories from Finland’ campaign has seen 100 books donated to 10 libraries around the UK in celebration of Finland’s centenary as an independent country.

On Friday last week, Councillor Alison Dickie, Vice Convener of the Education, Children and Families Committee, was presented with the books by Jaakko Nousiainen, the Head of Arts and Culture programme at the Finnish Institute.

She said: “This generous donation will offer library users a fascinating insight into Finnish culture and tradition – these books are a welcome addition to our collection.

“Like in Finland, we really value our libraries here in Edinburgh, and the opportunities they provide for lifelong learning, enjoyment and interaction with others.”

Each of the libraries involved, including Southampton, Leeds and Nottingham, have been given a different collection of stories, both classic and contemporary. Amongst these are two novels by Tove Jansson, author of the much-loved Moomin series, and epic poetry compilation, Kalevala – The Land of the Heroes.

Johanna Sumuvuori, Head of Society and Culture at the Finnish Institute in London, said: “We wanted to celebrate Finland’s centenary in the UK by bringing 10 wonderful Finnish stories to British readers and library users. We believe these stories offer great literary travels across Finnish culture.”

Find out more about 10×10 Stories from Finland on The Finnish Institute in London’s website and on Twitter, by searching #StoriesFromFinland.

Full list of books donated

Tove Jansson
Art in Nature, 2012
The Summer Book, 2003

Antti Tuomainen
The Mine, 2016

Elias Lönnrot
Kalevala – The Land of the Heroes, 1985
Translated by W.F. Kirby and introduced by M.A. Branch

Rosa Liksom
The Compartment no 6, 2014

Hannu Rajaniemi
The Quantum Thief, 2010

Tua Forsström
I studied once at a wonderful faculty, 2006

Lars Sund
A Happy Little Island, 2016

Markus Majaluoma
Daisy Darling, Let’s Read a Story! A Daisy and Daddy Story Book Vol. II, 2015

Timo Parvela
Bicycling to the Moon, 2016
Illustrated by Virpi Talvitie

Found in Translation

Today, we hand the blog over to Cecylia from the Edinburgh and Scottish Collection to tell us about Central Library’s Found in Translation book group:

The Found in Translation book group meets in Central library every first Monday of the month and we read and discuss English translations of fiction from around the world. Every book takes us on a literary and cultural journey to a different country. We are a diverse group spanning many nationalities, backgrounds and careers. We come from different parts of Europe: Bulgaria, Italy, Poland, Scotland and Ireland.

This year we were chosen to shadow the Man Booker International Prize. This prize is given annually to a book which is translated into English and published in the UK. We were asked to read the shortlisted title, ‘Compass’ by Mathias Enard, review it and join in the online conversation about the book and the prize on Twitter and Facebook. 


We have absolutely loved the whole experience – from the excitement of being picked by the Reading Agency as a shadowing group, to reading beautiful and challenging  ‘Compass’, sharing our thoughts online and finally discussing it as a group during our monthly meeting. Read our reviews to see what we thought of ‘Compass’.

We have gained so much from reading books from many languages and cultures and we’d encourage readers to get out of their reading comfort zones and join us.

The winner was announced last week and the prize went to A Horse Walks Into a Bar by David Grossman and translated by Jessica Cohen. Read this and the other Man Booker International 2017 longlist from Your Library.


In the Ink Dark

a dance and poem
made from memory and from conversation

In the Ink Dark is a new project from artist Luke Pell and collaborators. Throughout May and June a series of conversations and encounters with different people in Leith and Edinburgh will lead to a week of live dance performances at unique spaces across the city including Central Library and McDonald Road Library.

Performed by an eclectic group of dance and performance artists with an original music composition from Scott Twynholm, In the Ink Dark collects and explores experiences of loss and landscape, memory and materiality through dance, design and poetry.

Luke draws upon his own and others stories to make objects, dances and installations that can only exist because of different people coming together to listen and to share. This project invites people from all walks of life to talk with him, to share, reflect and celebrate something they have loved and lost. In the Ink Dark is an immersive project with different moments and modes of participation, an accumulative poem and choreography – for live and virtual space – that can only be made by the many people it meets with.

Drawings and photographs will be made as part of every performance of In the Ink Dark. The performance is immersive with seating provided, lasting approximately 1 hour with no interval.

Performances take place at:
McDonald Road Library Monday 19 June at 6 – 7pm
Central Library Thursday 22 June at 7 – 8pm.

Book online via Edinburgh Reads on Eventbrite.

Visit the In the Ink Dark website to find out more about the project and further performances.


Harpies, Fechters and Quines Festival 2017

We’ve very pleased to announce the programme for this year’s Harpies, Fechters and Quines Festival, organised in partnership with the Glasgow Women’s Library and the Edinburgh Womens’ Group Bonnie Fechters.

This year the focus is on women and film – Reel Women – and includes many free film screenings. Come along and meet like-minded folk, learn something new or just sit back and enjoy.

Browse the full programme and book your tickets via Eventbrite