Make Music Day 2022

Way back in 2019, Central Library put together a programme of interesting and talented local musicians for the Make Music Day celebrations of that year. We had groups in our Lending department and on the Mezzanine in our Music Library. We reflected at the end of the day about how we could grow on this success and how do we encourage our groups to come back and new performers to join us?

Then we went into the two Covid-filled years we have just had.

We, with the rest of the world, went online and put together programmes to be part of the day. In 2021, our online programme included original music for flute and piano, 3 local choirs, a film premiere and a performance of “Stand By Me” by members of staff – not to be missed!

This year, and my fingers are still crossed, we are back in the building and able to have a programme of live music with performances starting at midday and going on till 6pm.

Craigmillar, McDonald Road and Stockbridge Libraries are also hosting performances on Tuesday 21 June.

For the Central Library programme, we start our day by welcoming back the group who opened our programme in 2019, The Rolling Hills Chorus.

The Rolling Hills Chorus in May at the UK Barbershop Championship

Expect a superb programme of close harmony, a capella favourites from film, musical, folk and pop. The Rolling Hills Chorus are a busy group. This will be the first of two appearances on Make Music Day, as they have their own show in the evening, which I am sure they will mention.

Some quotes –
‘Fantastic show… Heart warming and uplifting’
‘Definitely feel-good 100% Distilled Harmony!’
‘The Rolling Hills Chorus just keeps getting better and this 5th Fringe appearance is a triumph!’
‘Wonderful Scottish songs sung in beautiful harmony’
‘My friend was so moved by “My Homeland” it gave her goosebumps!’

Two members of staff from the Music team, Michalina Pawlus and Fernando Bijos, have been working on a “jam” session for anyone to join in on. The session will feature new tunes by Fernando and Michalina and some jazz standards. If you have a few minutes to spare and your instrument and you are in the area, come and join the session at 12.45pm on the Mezzanine.

Another group returning to the library, are the artists formally known as “Play it again, Tam”. Now called Drookit they will be playing their folk-based selections in the Lending Library. Drookit members initially came together in a Scots Music Group, mixed instrument ensemble, playing distinctive folk tunes chosen and arranged by Sarah Northcott.

The six-piece band was created after the musicians performed in the 2018 “Big Tune Machine”, an Edinburgh Festival event organised by fiddler Amy Geddes and guitarist Donald Knox.


We are thrilled to welcome musicians from the Tinderbox Collective to Central Library for the first time.

Tinderbox Collective

Tinderbox will be represented for this performance by some of their eclectic young talented players from this growing collective of musicians and artists. Edinburgh Libraries are pleased to be in partnership with the Tinderbox collective for their “We Make Musical Instrument Libraries” initiative, in which they will house musical instruments in various Libraries around Edinburgh and other towns and cities around Scotland.

Some quotes on Tinderbox Collective projects:
“Rave Culture meets last night of the Proms”, The Herald
“A trip on a grand, ambitious and stimulating scale”, The Scotsman
“Makes the consequences of globalisation personal, it’s impressively powerful stuff”, The Scotsman
“A spectacular modern band”, The Guardian
“An unusual and curious idea, this is a meeting of cultures that typifies the spirit of the Fringe”, Broadway Baby
“Clashes cultures on very personal and emotive footing”, **** fest
“A musical tour de force… This Tinderbox has already kindled something that dazzles”, The List

We are also pleased to say a big hello to the Edinburgh Mandolin and Guitar Orchestra in their first of hopefully many, visits to Central Library. EMGO’s programme will draw from their wide repertoire of musical genres, from classics to pop, baroque to bebop and striding across continents along the way.

Edinburgh Mandolin and Guitar Orchestra

Tenement Jazz Band are also making their first appearance in the library and we hope not their last. In their brief history they have played in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Dundee and as part of Glasgow Jazz Festivals, and performed their own hit show on the Edinburgh Fringe telling the story of the ‘Red Hot Roots of Jazz’ from turn of the century New Orleans and beyond.

Tenement Jazz Band

Some quotes:
“Brings a freshness and energy of youth to New Orleans style traditional jazz whilst also staying true to the original style”, Ron Simpson, The Jazz Rag, May 2019
“They’ve done their homework… The results are rich and multi-layered”, Joe Bebco, Associate Editor of The Syncopated Times. 

Bringing our day to a close, but not Make Music Day, are the Edinburgh Police Choir. Formed in 2008, as the Lothian and Borders Police Choir and then expanded to include members of the other emergency services and their family and friends, now the Edinburgh Police Choir has developed into a truly community choir. They have performed at the Royal Albert Hall for a concert in aid of Care of Police Survivors, at the Sage in Gateshead as part of Sky Arts Project and at Edinburgh’s St Giles Cathedral for a National Emergency Services Day event.     

Edinburgh Police Choir

Our Libraries around the city are hosting events and performances. Craigmillar Library has a busy day with performances starting at 10.30am in the morning with players from Castlebrae Community Campus followed throughout the day by programmes of guitar music by three very different performers, David Price, Danielo Olivara and Raymond Charles.

The Nelson Hall in McDonald Road Library will resound to the sound of music with the indie feminist punk band Suffrajitsu.

Our colleagues at Stockbridge Library will host performances form mezzo-soprano Ana Filogonio and from accordionist, Linda Campbell. 

All the music performances in Edinburgh Libraries will take place during the day, except for McDonald Road Library, where Suffrajitsu are due to play in the evening.

Wherever you spend 21 June, spend it musically! Make Music Day is a celebration of music, all events are free and open to the public. That is the same for all the events in the library service.

All of the events for Make Music Day for the Libraries, for Edinburgh and for the UK are listed on the Make Music Day website.

Don’t forget to follow Central Library on the day for coverage of all the musical happenings on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Edinburgh Queer Sci-Fi Book Club

Today we hand over to Jac, Jess, Liz, and Kate from the Edinburgh Queer Sci-Fi Book Club who normally meet at McDonald Road Library on the first Monday of the month. Whilst it’s not been possible to meet in the library, they’ve continued to meet online and they welcome new members. Anyone interested in more information or getting added to the book group list should email:

Poster of the Edinburgh Queer Sci-Fi Book Club

During the past year they’ve read:

Book cover of Woman of the Edge of Time

Woman on the edge of time by Marge Piercy
In this feminist sci-fi classic, Marge Piercy imagines both a utopian society we could get to if we dare to dream and act on those dreams and the dystopian world that we might head towards instead if we give up on hope. Set in New York in the 1970s, the story follows Connie Ramos, a working class Latinx woman, first into a psychiatric hospital and then into two possible but very different futures. With themes of poverty, domestic and institutional violence and psychiatric abuse it is a dark book. But it is also a book of hope and inspiration for anyone who is dreaming of a gender-less society based on sexual liberation, inter-generational community and co-operation.
Available to borrow as an ebook.

Front cover of 'Pet'

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi
Pet centres on Jam, a Black trans girl living in a community formed in the aftermath of a revolution, where there are, or should be, no monsters left. Aimed at the younger end of the young adult range, Pet is an astonishing feat of craft that asks difficult questions about what allows child abuse to go unchecked, what it might take to recognize it, and what justice might mean. Emezi handles emotive subject matter with a sensitivity and deceptive simplicity that in no way detracts from its power.
Available to borrow as an ebook.

Front cover of The left hand of darkness

The left hand of darkness by Ursula le Guin
The left hand of darkness is a classic for good reason. Exploring themes of gender and sexuality through the meeting of interstellar cultures, it was groundbreaking when written and continues to be thought provoking to this day. It follows the story of ambassador Genly Ai who is sent to negotiate the joining of the planet Gethen into a federation of planets he represents. Although it isn’t a perfect book (it foregrounds heteronormative relations) its poignancy and insight make it well worth a read.
Available to borrow as an audiobook.

Lilith’s Brood by Octavia Butler
Octavia Butler’s acclaimed trilogy, Lilith’s Brood, imagines humanity as a species saved from near extinction through the intervention of aliens, the Oankali. Apparently benevolent, the Oankali seek to free humanity from its violent, hierarchical tendencies, and to combine their peoples’ genes to transform them both. Butler’s powerful and disturbing work reflects on colonialism, slavery, and humanity’s capacity for change.

To be taught, if fortunate by Becky Chambers
Chambers novella, To be taught, if fortunate, explores the idea of what if instead of colonizing and changing other planets, we changed ourselves? Set in a very near future, it is about a group of four scientists who have been sent on a several decade long mission to explore four planets with vastly differing ecosystems. Though short, it is a thought-provoking book which explores themes of colonialization, the role of scientific research and mental health. While at times quite intense, it is a book that feels very human and asks big questions despite being short.

Trouble on Triton by Samuel Delaney
Trouble on Triton tells the story of self obsessed jerk Bron and his slightly bungling journey of self discovery through infatuation, rejection, and his attempt to find happiness in a society which offers everything he could reasonably want. Delaney skilfully uses Bron to explore and critique gender roles in a society at war with Earth in a book that’s difficult to love but well worth a read.

The long way to a small, angry planet by Becky Chambers
In The long way to a wmall, angry planet, Becky Chambers manages to write a space opera that feels like a comforting hug or a warm bubble bath, which is something we could probably all do with right now. Centred very much on the characters and their relationships, it follows the multi-species crew of the Wayfarer whilst they are doing their job of building wormholes in different corners of the galaxy. If you are after a book full of thrilling adventure and suspense, this might not be the right fit for you. But if what you are looking for is to read a cosy story about a multi-species queer chosen family in space, then this is the one for you.

The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas
Kate Mascarenhas’ The Psychology of Time Travel interweaves the perspectives of four women united by their invention of a time machine in 1967. It’s an intricate and multi-layered book whose strengths lie in its focus on the emotional and psychological impact of time travel, in how knowledge of the future might limit the possibility of equality within romantic relationships, and affect people’s ability to connect with one another. In a genre still often perceived as overwhelmingly straight, cis, and male, Mascarenhas’ novel is refreshing in its representation of women’s relationships with one another: professional, personal, and romantic.  
Available to borrow as an ebook and an audiobook.          

Front cover of The Outside

The Outside by Ada Hoffmann
The Outside explores theme of the unknown in space. Our main character is a queer neurodiverse scientist university of AI gods. By banding together with an alien crew aboard a sentient ship to track down a rogue professor, they explore the nature of truth and whose truth really matters.
Available to borrow as an audiobook.

On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden
There’s something instantly magical about Tillie Walden’s On a Sunbeam. The palette of colours and the staggering illustrations are fabulous enough, but the story is gripping and bold, telling of rebellious teen Mia and her adventures on board a spaceship as part of a queer crew that repairs and documents old buildings. There’s love, danger, and workplace solidarity all beautifully depicted amongst an exuberant backdrop of galactic ruins.

The Deep by Rivers Solomon
Rivers Solomon’s The Deep builds on the mythology developed in the music of Drexciya and clipping, which imagines the children of enslaved Black women thrown overboard during the Atlantic slave trade as founders of a new, underwater society. Solomon’s book reflects on what it means to struggle with intergenerational racial trauma, how memory and storytelling might open up more inclusive futures, and the possibilities of queer love.

Front cover of Octavia's Brood

Octavia’s Brood edited by Adrienne Maree Brown and Walidah Imarisha
Octavia’s Brood is a collection inspired by the science fiction accessibility ethos of Octavia Butler, who said that science fiction should be for everyone. Each short story is written by an activist or artist to explore social justice themes and ideas. Often this is each authors first foray into writing fiction and the tales are interesting and varied including space environmental concerns and frequent post apocalyptic themes. Each of the 22 writers takes a new spin to their story which can includes nightmares or visions of their future dream. This diversity of thought keeps you engaged and the only disappointment is when your favourite story ends too soon.
Available to borrow as an ebook.

Discover these and more great titles in our collection of LGBTQ+ fiction and non-fiction ebooks and audiobooks available on Overdrive and via the Libby app.

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. 

Stop number 79

On Wednesday 21 August, something was afoot at McDonald Road Library. Someone was joining the library. This new member wasn’t just any new member though! He was an author. An author who has set himself the challenge of joining all 209 Library Authorities in the UK. His name is Joseph Coelho, and this is his Library Marathon.

Joseph’s aim is simple – join all 209 library authorities across the UK – and celebrate all the amazing work and events that go on in our libraries. Edinburgh City Libraries was stop number 79 on his marathon and what a stop it was!

Whizzing across town from the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Joseph joined staff from our Children and Young People’s team and pupils from Leith Primary School at McDonald Road Library. Before Joseph joined the library, the pupils were given the chance to hear Joseph read some poems and be told a (not so) scary tale or two and ask him questions before the big moment came.

And then the big moment arrived, Joseph was joining Edinburgh City Libraries! Joseph was helped by a friendly librarian called Emma. She told Joseph about all the marvellous things he could do with his library card. And then it was done, Joseph had signed up to his 79th Library Authority.

If you would like to follow Joseph’s Library Marathon, you can track his adventures on his website.

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.

Borrow a human!

Next Monday from 5.00 – 7.00pm McDonald Road Library hosts a Human Library, in association with LGBT History Month.

Learn about living history through the lives of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people contributing to the richness of cultural diversity in Scotland – please come and interview a LGBT ‘human book’.

All welcome!

For more information email or call 0131 555 3940

Learning English and making friends: Tomasz’s story

Hi. My name is Tomasz and I am from Poland. I work in hospitality.

Although I attended college to study English and I have been trying to meet as many native speakers as possible I have not felt satisfied with progress of my English. I was simply not confident. Native speakers talking to me with full speed often made me feel uncomfortable. I did not understand everything they were telling me and often I felt embarrassed to ask for explanation or even repeating.

Then Tomasz joined one of our Chatabout ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) Reading Groups. 

Discovering that I am able to read a whole book in English changed things  a lot. Well, books we read at Chatabout group are written in a  simple language, are not too thick, neither scientific. But all in all I read books in English not in my native language, and this is a fact. And even more importantly,  I can talk afterwards about it in English too. The book and discussion are adjusted to our level of English but it builds my self-esteem greatly.

The social aspect is also important

At our monthly meetings we not only chat about a book but also there is a space to learn new words and we are encouraged to ask for meanings of  the difficult ones.

In a friendly atmosphere we also find  time to talk about any interesting topic, and to share our views. For me it is like meetings with friends, a lot of fun and I am assured I will always learn something new and have a great time.


Thansk to Tomasz for sharing his story.

There are three Chatabout Reading Groups where you are most welcome to join us and improve your English, gain confidence and meet new friends: at Fountainbridge Library on the second Tuesday morning of each month, at McDonald Road Library, on the last Thursday morning of each month, and a new group starting at the Central Library, meeting the first Wednesday afternoon of each month. The groups are ideal for those learning English at Intermediate Level. To find out more details please contact

esol chatabout

Meet the author: Gordon Anthony

On March 18th McDonald Road Library hosts a visit from a remarkable author.

Registered blind, Gordon Anthony found himself with time on his hands after retiring.

With the aid of special computer software, he returned to his hobby of writing. This was a wise move.

Gordon’s debut novel, “In the Shadow of the Wall”, was published in 2010 to critical acclaim, including a four star review in The Scotsman.

Gordon then ventured into crime fiction, and has attained a worldwide following for his “Constantine Investigates” series of spoof murder mysteries.

Book online to hear Gordon talk about his latest work and his experiences as a blind author.

Don Paterson OBE at McDonald Road Library

Acclaimed Scottish poet, writer and musician Don Paterson will be speaking on the theme of ‘Journeys’ for this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day (Monday 27th January).

As a sign of respect we will be asking guests to help us recreate ‘Path’ in line with the Journeys theme by writing a message, poem or quotation on a memorial brick.

Contact or call 0131 529 5636 to reserve your place at this event.

What is a Social Media Surgery?

McDonald Road Library hosts Edinburgh’s latest Social Media Surgery on Wednesday 14th August from 5.30 – 7.30pm. We caught up with James, one of the “surgeons”, to find out more

A previous surgery at McDonald Rd Library. Photo courtesy of Lilly Hunter (@lillylyle)

What are social media surgeries and who are they for?

Social Media Surgeries are informal sessions aimed at helping people make the most of the web and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. They take place across the UK and are run by volunteers (the “surgeons”) offering their time and expertise to help individuals, local voluntary or community organisations, charities, clubs or societies looking for a bit of advice. They are completely free and very relaxed. You don’t need any particular skills or knowledge of using the web – our surgeons can help you whatever level you’re at.

Why are you doing this?

The web and social media sites have opened up new worlds of communication for millions of people worldwide. They are a powerful tools for campaigning, collaborating and engaging others; helping charities to spread their message, allowing volunteers to come together, and empowering citizens to become more active in their community. The surgeries aim to help more people make use of these wonderful tools – our surgeons have all found ways to use social media to improve their lives and the lives of those around them, and they want to share that!

What’s been your experiences of the surgeries you’ve attended?

Every surgery is different, and each person who comes along brings something new – whether it’s a surgeon with a great tip for a useful new website, or a patient with a challenging question that makes us all stop and think! But what they’ve all had in common is the wonderful buzz in the room – the excitement of the surgeons not knowing what they’re going to be asked next, and the genuine appreciation of the folk who come along and get all this great advice and support for free! It’s so rewarding to start with someone who knows nothing about any of this, and to have them tweeting or blogging just a hour or so later!

What if I want to be a surgeon?

The surgeries rely on the goodwill of those who come and offer their time to help others. The surgeons don’t have to be “experts” – in fact, we strongly believe there’s no such thing as a social media expert! If you think you could spare a couple of hours to come along and help someone to discover the world of social media, visit to see when our next dates are and follow the links to sign up to say you’re coming – this helps us to ensure there are enough chairs and biscuits!

Thanks James!

Helping you make the most of social media

Edinburgh’s Social Media Surgeries are back!

Would you like some help and advice on social media and the web? Come along to McDonald Road Library next Monday evening (21st January) any time between 5.30 and 7.30pm and get the heads up from the experts.

The surgeons are especially keen to help any local voluntary or community organisations, charities, clubs or societies who are interested in making the most of the web and social media.

Of course, everyone is welcome so sign up today and we’ll see you there.

Prepare for the British Citizenship Test

If you or someone you know is preparing for the citizenship test and have reached Intermediate level English or above this will be of interest.

Starting 23rd January we’ll be holding drop-in sessions for applicants where an ESOL tutor will be on hand to give help and advice on the test. This will run from 5.30 – 7.30pm every Wednesday from 23rd January through to 20th March.

Come along to as many sessions as you like or come along when you can – it’s up to you.

You can of course also practice from home by using your library card number to log on to Life in Great Britain online.

These sessions will take place at McDonald Road Library. For more details and to book your place contact or call  0131 529 5636.

World Aids Day

Some facts about HIV:

  • More than 90,000 people are currently living with HIV in the UK.
  • Between 1981 and 2012 more than 35 million people have died from the virus, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.
  • Despite advances in the treatment and understanding of HIV and AIDS, many people  do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others from HIV, and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with the virus.

This Saturday (1st December) is World AIDS Day, a timely reminder that HIV has not gone away. Here’s how we’re getting involved.

Volunteers from Waverley Care, Scotland’s leading charity providing care and support to people living with HIV or Hepatitis C, will be manning information stalls at Central, McDonald Road and Portobello Libraries this Saturday.

Libraries will also be stocking material from the HIV Aware campaign, and you can find out about other local and national organisations and sources of help and advice on Your Edinburgh, our community information site.

We’ve also put together a list of books which look at HIV and AIDS from a range of interesting perspectives, all available to collect from your local library.

Finally, look out for a new Scottish awareness and anti-stigma campaign called ‘HIV Always Hear‘. It captures the stories of people living with HIV in Scotland in 2012 and 4 people tell their story through 4 short films.  The website goes live on Friday.

Six authors in six libraries: it’s Book Week Scotland

We’re celebrating Book Week Scotland with the help of some very special guests. Book now for the following events:

Alex Gray – Glasgow Queen of Crime!
DI Lorimer is up against the freezing weather and a double serial murder.
Mon 26 November, 6.30-7.45pm at Muirhouse Library. To book call 0131 529 5528 or email

Ken McClure – Medical Man.
Ken talks about his recent writing and bestselling medical thrillers including ‘Lost Causes’ (June 2011)
Mon 26 November, 6.30-7.45pm at Craigmillar Library. To book call 0131 529 5597 or email

Doug Johnstone – ‘Hit and Run’
Local writer, musician and journalist, Doug Johnstone talks about his latest book ‘Hit and Run’.
Mon 26 November, 6.30-745pm at Newington Library. To book call 0131 529 5536 or email

Denise Mina – the End of the Wasp Season
Author of the Garnethill trilogy, Glasgow crime writer and playwright Denise Mina talks about her new book ‘The End of the Wasp Season’ and her writing career.
Mon 26 November, 6.30-7.45pm at Drumbrae Library. To book call 0131 529 5244 or email

Margaret Bennett – Folklore and Scottish Song
A folksinger and scholar of great sensitivity and versatility, and a ‘major figure of the modern Scottish revival, Margaret embodies all that is best of the spirit of Scotland’. (Hamish Henderson)
Fri 30 November, 10-12am at Oxgangs Library. To book call 0131 529 5549 or email oxgangs.library

Anne Donovan
Prize-winning short story writer and novelist, Anne Donovan’s debut novel Buddha Da was shortlisted for the Orange Prize.
Thurs 29 November, 2.30-3.30pm at McDonald Road Library. To book call 0131 529 5636 or email mcdonaldroad.library@edinburgh.