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.

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How Dazzle designs lit up Easter

We ran Dazzle workshops over the Easter holidays in libraries across the city to see what interesting and varied patterns people would come up with for their empty ship outline.

More than 150 people took part over the holidays in events at Central, Moredun, Muirhouse, Oxgangs, Fountainbridge, Wester Hailes, Sighthill, Stockbridge, Granto, Ratho and Sighthill.   As you can see from our pictures there were a variety of techniques and approaches used by people of all ages!

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The resource was really intuitive with children of all ages quickly understanding how the resource works with some people returning to libraries to have another go, improving, refining and redrafting their patterns!

Many people liked colouring-in their patterns but there were interesting experiments with collage, fantastic detailed pencil illustration and bright, vibrant painting.

Feedback said the events were “a bit different” “really interesting” “worked great as a joining-in activity” “would like to see more events for families doing a project together” and “Very welcoming staff. I liked the idea of the project. It would be great if the project was promoted in schools.”

Staff at Granton thought that having examples of different techniques was a useful way to inspire people and create varied outcomes and a member of staff at Wester Hailes used his experience as a draughtsman to design a 3D template based on the initial outline.

Wester Hailes 3d

The events were our first attempt to do some work on Dazzles with a view to doing more work with schools this term, the forthcoming commemoration for the Battle of Jutland and the unveiling of Ciara Phillips’ Dazzle Ship and close partnership with Edinburgh Art Festival supporting exciting creative activities in libraries over the summer holiday.

Huge thanks to Ellis McKenzie for designing the outline and Out of the Blueprint for RISO printing the beautiful templates, and massive thanks to all the staff in libraries who took made it possible for so many people to Dazzle up their Easter break!

If you’re interested in finding out more about Dazzle or using the resource in your school, library or after-school club contact Colm Linnane on colm.linnane@edinburgh.gov.uk or 0131-242 8121.

Dazzle the Library this Easter!

During the First World War, the artist Norman Wilkinson was stationed on minesweepers in the Mediterranean. He came up with a clever idea to confuse and misguide U-Boat crews who wanted to sink ships.

© Imperial War Museum (Art IWM PST 4624)

© Imperial War Museum (Art IWM PST 4624)

Using striking patterns and clashing colour schemes, Dazzle camouflage was put on thousands of ships, many of them stationed at Leith. The Dazzle Unit, stationed at the Royal Academy of the Arts, was composed mostly of women who were students at the RA and who produced designs on paper and onto models.

This Easter, Edinburgh Libraries want to see your Dazzle ideas. Why not come along and try out your ideas on one of our specially designed templates!

We will have events in Central Library, Fountainbridge, Balgreen, Muirhouse, Granton, Sighthill, Wester Hailes, Stockbridge, Ratho and South Queensferry.

Keep an eye on local library Facebook pages and our events calendar for details of what’s happening, there’s something for everyone so get involved!

This is the start of an experiment about doing more with art and design in Edinburgh Libraries.

How could we make Dazzle bigger and better? How could we scale up your designs? What would you like to do once you’ve created your pattern, selected your technique, where will your Dazzle lead you?

Dazzle the Forth has been made possible by partnership between Edinburgh Libraries and City of Edinburgh Council Arts and Creative Learning. The partnership aims to sustain work undertaken on the Heritage Lottery funded Project Kitbag which encouraged young people to respond creatively to the commemoration of the centenary of the First World War using objects and documents from the period as a stimulus.

The template has been designed by local designer Ellis McKenzie and printed using the RISO print studio at Out of the Blueprint, sustaining work Edinburgh Libraries have been doing with #artcore.

For more details about Dazzle in Edinburgh Libraries contact Colm Linnane, Service Development Leader, Edinburgh City Libraries. colm.linnane@edinburgh.gov.uk

Meet Finn. He’s a star. Literally!

This is Finn Stormonth. Finn, who attends St Cuthbert’s Primary, is the winner of a nationwide competition held by Usborne Books and the Reading Agency to tie in with Tim Peake going to the International Space Station.

Finn2 (2)Entries were submitted by libraries and Fountainbridge Library was lucky enough to submit Finn’s entry, which turned out to be the winner.

Finn’s prize: getting a star named after him. Out of this world or what? Here’s Finn with his prize certificate and book which he was given at a special surprise award ceremony on Thursday – World Book Day.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering about the hat, it’s not official St Cuthbert’s uniform. Finn is dressed up in his World Book Day outfit as one of the characters from Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy.

Well done Finn!

Libraries on top of their game at Tynecastle’s Family Day for Kinship Care

Staff from Fountainbridge and Wester Hailes were delighted to represent Edinburgh Libraries at the recent Family Day at Tynecastle stadium.

Over 100 children and adults, plus some of the team’s famous faces, were there to celebrate the launch of Big Hearts’ new Kinship Care Programme.

Children joined in with activities including football coaching, music tuition, face-painting and stadium tours. Libraries’ staff hosted popular ‘Tiger Tales’ story and activity sessions throughout the day, with a prime view of the pitch as a backdrop. We practiced our stories before the children arrived!

Tynecastle 1

Meanwhile, carers were able to visit information stalls from a wide range of services, and get memberships for their families at the Libraries’ stand. We also asked children to enter our competition to design their own football strip, and received some fantastic designs!

We were proud to present Hearts legend John Robertson, the club’s record goal-scorer, with his own Edinburgh Libraries card. He said that he’d be sure to use it, as a keen reader and supporter of libraries!

Tynecastle 2

Families were also met by current Hearts stars Soufian El Hassnaoui and Arnaud Djoum.The ‘Big Hearts Kinship Care after school club’, a key component of the kinship care programme, kicked off on Tuesday 27th October and will be run weekly in partnership with leading kinship care charity, Mentor.

Cakes and ale: what’s on at Fountainbridge Library

News of upcoming events at Fountainbridge Library:

Memories of FountainbridgeA history of Brewing in Edinburgh (and beer tasting)

Join the Scottish Brewing Archive for a night of tales, photographs and history of brewing in Edinburgh. There might not be so much rolling of barrels anymore but there’ll be plenty of fascinating stories.

Monday 7th September 6.30pm-7.30pm  – Book online for this event

Add your memories to Edinburgh Collected

Do you have photos, mementos or memories you’d like to share of the local area? Come along and add it to Edinburgh Collected. We have experts on hand to record your stories and upload you photos

Wednesday 9th September 4pm – 6pm (no booking required. Drop in anytime during the slot)

A sail down memory lane: the history of the Union Canal

Join Gemma from the Scottish Waterways Trust as she shares stories and the history of the Union Canal, especially the area that supported the industry of Fountainbridge and its many factories and breweries. Made all the better with coffee and cake on us!

Wednesday 9th September 6.30pm-7.30pm – Book online for this event

Agnes says “You can only win!”

AgnesAgnes, a member of one of our ESOL (English for speakers of Other Languages) Chatabout Book Groups, writes about what the group means to her:

I’m originally from Hungary. I’ve been living in beautiful Edinburgh  more than 5 years now. As I’m a passionate reader I joined an ESOL Chatabout reading group at Fountainbridge Library a couple of years ago. It turned out to be an excellent decision as I gained a lot of benefits from it.

Firstly, I really enjoyed the short stories which we were given to read and I also enjoyed our discussions over the books. As well, my mind broadened through reading historical stories, I found it very interesting to hear other people’s different opinions about the same book.

Moreover, it helped me to learn to express myself better in English, extended my vocabulary and thanks to the friendly, encouraging environment my self-confidence grew. The reading group also provides a great opportunity for socialising, meeting new people or even making friends. If you have an opportunity to join a reading group then grab it, you can only win!

ESOL Chatabout Groups resume in September and are most suited to those who already have some English language skills (intermediate level).

There are two groups. One at Fountainbridge Library on the second Tuesday morning of each month, and another at Central Library, meeting on the first Monday evening of each month.

You are welcome to join us and practice listening, speaking and reading English.

For more information contact wendy.pearson@edinburgh.gov.uk