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.



#artcore Takeover at McDonald Road Library


LeithLate kicked off last night with a huge variety of fun, creative events all along Leith Walk.

Edinburgh Libraries were really eager to host Leith Late and we thought it would be fun to try another #artcore takeover after the success of the event on the Central Library Mezzanine for National Libraries Day in February.

#artcore is a youth arts partnership that lets young people take control, creating a platform for young artists to share or perform their work.

Initially the event was supposed to take place in the Nelson Hall at McDonald Road but the Referendum on EU membership meant we had to use some creative thinking about what spaces we could use, eventually settling on the Business Hub in the Basement!

The team of #artcore apprentices got to work yesterday afternoon transforming the space and bringing in sound and lighting equipment and making it a fun, inviting space for a great evening of music.

set up


The event kicked off with spoken word and beats and rhymes from Totally Sound’s Urban Word project with some great rapping from LDC and other young artists.

We then had beautiful songs and keys from Marley Davidson before returning takeover guest ProkFiskal, NoiseOS and Senzik saw out the evening with some loud, pounding DJing and live electronics.

We had an amazing 170 people come to check it out over the course of the evening! All the performers were buzzing at performing in front of an audience and the #artcore team did an amazing job setting up, and producing such a professional and slick event.


We initially hoped that Creative Electric could present their new physical theatre piece “Fragile” but unfortunately the space was too small. Thanks to Out of the Blue the performance was able to go ahead in their new Leith Walk Studios – a great example of the strong, constructive partnership that’s come from working in partnership on #artcore.

We hope to do more takeovers in future and are already thinking about how we can do more for LeithLate next year!

McDonald Road Library temporary closure

McDonald Road Library will be closed for essential building work from 13th July, re-opening on Monday 27th July.
A mobile library service will be provided on Monday,Tuesday, Friday and Saturday whilst the Library is closed.


The story of Edinburgh Libraries. Part 3 of 3

From one public library in 1890 there are now 28 branches across the city each providing an important service to the community. As well as providing access to information, libraries soon became places to gather and attend events.

Edinburgh’s newest libraries at Drumbrae and Craigmillar have developed this idea with the library housed in a community hub where members of the community can also access other council services.


Drumbrae Library Hub

Craigmillar Library

East Neighbourhood Centre and Craigmillar Library

There’s always been more to the library than books on shelves. In Edinburgh, libraries have played host to some great events and celebrations over the years.  The recent development of Edinburgh Reads has seen numerous author events take place across the city.

Story hour at McDonald Road Library

Story hour at McDonald Road Library, 1962



Ian Rankin and Jeffery Deaver at an Edinburgh Reads event

On opening the library’s catalogue was listed in books. Technology has come a long way since then.  Computerisation came in 1974 when Central Fiction began lending through an offline system. Public internet access was introduced in 1998 and now all libraries have WiFi. Readers can also access services through a mobile app and a growing collection of electronic resources and e-books are accessible online and through mobile devices.

Public access internet launch in Central Library

Public access internet launch in Central Library

Brodie's Close, Lawnmarket, Edinburgh

Brodie’s Close, Lawnmarket, Edinburgh. Reproduction of Bruce J. Home pencil drawing from ‘Old Houses in Edinburgh’. One of the many treasures you can find on Capital Collections.

Over the years, a number of donations have helped shape the special collections held by Edinburgh Libraries. Particular highlights of this collection include the Henry Dyer Collection of Japanese woodblock prints, woodblock printed volumes and painted scrolls; the personal items bequeathed by Charles Boog Watson. Robert Butchart and Thomas Ross as well as an extensive collection of early photography documenting Victorian Edinburgh.

Many of these items form the backbone of Capital Collections, our online image database.

Find out how much you know about Edinburgh Libraries with this quick, fun quiz

masthead quiz


The story of Edinburgh Libraries. Part 1 of 3

Original Architectural Drawing of Central Library

Original Architectural Drawing of Central Library

On 9 June 1890 the doors to the first public library in Edinburgh opened to the public.

In the run up to our 125th anniversary we’ll take a look at some of the significant developments which have taken place over that time.

Andrew Carnegie layse the foundation stone of the Edinburgh Free Library

Andrew Carnegie lays the foundation stone of the Edinburgh Free Library

Edinburgh was the last Scottish city to adopt the Public Libraries Act doing so in 1886 when Andrew Carnegie donated £50,000 to the city to build a free library. Building commenced in 1887 and was completed in 1890. The building was designed by architect George Washington Browne in a French Renaissance style.

‘Let there be light’ is carved above the entrance; something Carnegie insisted should appear on all libraries he funded. Other notable features on the building’s facade include three large roundels depicting the coat of arms of the City of Edinburgh, the arms of Scotland and the royal arms. Nine small square reliefs run along the building relating to the history of printing in Scotland.

One of nine small square reliefs on the exterior of Edinburgh Central Library

One of nine small square reliefs on the exterior of Edinburgh Central Library

The library opened with three departments: Reference, Lending and the Newsroom. Hew Morrison was appointed principal librarian in 1887. In his 34 years in post he was responsible for developing central library and five branch libraries.  A bequest of £50,000 from publisher Thomas Nelson in 1891 funded the development of branches at Dundee Street (1897), Stockbridge (1900), McDonald Road (1904) and St Leonards (1914). Morningside opened in 1905.

McDonald Road Library in 1912

McDonald Road Library in 1912


Find out how much you know about Edinburgh Libraries with this quick, fun quiz

masthead quiz

Last minute Animation Studio for younger animators at McDonald Road Library

animation studio in action

Since February we’ve been running an #artcore Animation Studio for teenagers with Red Kite.

Young people from all around Edinburgh have been coming together and bringing their stories and designs to life with expert guidance from animators from Red Kite, Edinburgh College of Art and Edinburgh College.

As a treat for our younger audience Red Kite will hold an Animation Studio for aspiring animators aged 5-12 next Thursday and Friday at McDonald Road Library.

The studio runs over two days, Thursday 16th and Friday 17th April from 11.30am-1.30pm at McDonald Road Library, 2-4 McDonald Road, Edinburgh, EH7 4L.

The studio is free and all equipment is provided, just bring your imagination!

Contact to sign up.

McDonald Road Library temporary closure

McDonald Road Librarywill be closed from tomorrow (Monday 23 March) to Thursday 26 March (inclusive) for essential building work.

We apologise for any inconvenience.