Green fingers at Oxgangs Library

For the past year here at Oxgangs Library we have been working hard to improve the green spaces around the library. This has been done with the help of the community, especially the local children who have played a pivotal role in getting things done!

Initially the kids seemed unsure, can gardening really be that exciting? Well it turns out… it can!

Our first project involved planting some lovely pollinator friendly bulbs at the front of the library, these were a mix of snowdrops, crocus and snakes head fritillary. Although the local earthworm population might be a bit disgruntled, it turns out they have played a key role in getting the kids involved. Who can find the biggest earthworm providing all the motivation needed to get stuck in do some digging.

We then set our sights on bigger goals! Our attention was brought to the wonderful Free Trees scheme by the Woodland Trust, so we decided to apply for a hedging pack. This provided us with a whopping 36 trees, including Dogrose, Dogwood, Crab Apple, Hawthorn and Hazel! These arrived mid-November and were successfully planted once the ground had thawed, again with the kids providing a helping hand.

Box of saplings from the Woodland Trust

We are looking forward to these maturing over the next couple of years. Not only will our new hedge provide food and shelter for local wildlife, it will also provide a nice outdoor space were the community can feel closer to, and learn about, nature.

If you would like free trees from the woodland trust scheme, please find more details here


Virtual Reality comes to Edinburgh Libraries

Over the last few months more than a 100 visitors to Portobello, Muirhouse, Drumbrae, Leith, Oxgangs and Wester Hailes Libraries have had the opportunity to immerse themselves in the Berlin Blitz by flying over Berlin with the crew of a  Lancaster Bomber, encounter gorillas in the Congo and travel in Dr Who’s Tardis courtesy of the BBC Virtual Reality Libraries Tour.

The BBC created new and unique VR experiences for public libraries in the UK.
For most of the participants they were trying a VR headset for the first time and everyone enjoyed the experience and would like to have the opportunity to try it again.

Visitors to Portobello Library enjoying the VR experience.

Find out more about the BBC project that brought virtual reality experiences to new audiences in over 150 UK libraries.

Bookbug’s Library Challenge re-launch

Bookbug’s Library Challenge is a fun way to encourage young children to explore and enjoy their local library.

Bookbug Library Challenge at Oxgangs Library

Bookbug Library Challenge at Oxgangs Library

As a result of the feedback from consultation, a few changes are being introduced to the materials we use to support the program. What better excuse for some Bookbug fun? Children from 2 local nursery classes came to Oxgangs Library to celebrate the changes.

We were delighted to have author/illustrator Alison Murray, who shared stories, songs and activities with us and each of the children also got a gift of a mini bookbug!

Alison Murray and the Bookbug Library Challenge at Oxgangs Library

Alison Murray and the Bookbug Library Challenge at Oxgangs Library

Bookbug’s Library Challenge runs in all libraries in Edinburgh. Talk to staff at your local library for more information.

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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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 or 0131-242 8121.

Library news round-up

As one month comes to an end and another begins let’s take a quick trip across the city to see what’s been happening in the capital’s libraries.

Much excitement among the members of Muirhouse Library’s children’s garden club as their daffodils and gladoli are beginning to bloom. Spring has almost sprung!

Sticking to the great outdoors, visitors to Portobello, Craigmillar and Piershill Librares have been having their say on the design of the new park in the area.

stockbridgeMeanwhile, Stockbridge Library has been exhibiting pictures by Boris Bittker (1916 -2005). A native New Yorker, Boris was a keen amateur photographer who travelled to many exotic and intriguing countries.

Next, news of some new groups and clubs meeting in libraries:

Satellart is a new group for 8 – 14 year olds in and around Oxgangs which brings together art, science and crafting. At our first meeting on Saturday we looked at the work of Mondrian.

Over at Corstorphine Library we are just about to launch a Colouring-In group for adults and a beginner’s chess club. Details on our web page.

Balerno and Colinton Libraries have both started Friday afternoon knitting clubs for kids. Balerno’s meets at 2.30pm and Colinton’s an hour later.

Star Wars fever is still in full ‘force’ down the road at Currie Library, where youngsters have been hard at work creating  Paper Plate Millennium Falcons and these terrifying Gamorrean Guard masks.

Finally, Many thanks to Tatsuya Yamauchi, Shun Mizobuchi and Kaori Kozakai for bringing a mix of Scottish and Japanese music to Morningside Library.







Why a US-based singer songwriter is playing a gig at Oxgangs Library

This is the video for Like Warriors, the new single from US-based singer songwriter Kathy Muir.

Kathy is originally from Oxgangs, and the song is about growing up there in the sixties and seventies.

This is where Oxgangs Library comes in. Kathy wanted to make a video featuring photos and film footage of Oxgangs as it was, and after a phenomenally successful Facebook appeal (which was featured in the Edinburgh Evening News) Kathy visited Oxgangs Library last month to collect even more pictures and meet some of the people who donated them. Here she is talking about her visit and the background to the project.

We’re delighted to say that Kathy will be making a return visit to the library tomorrow for a live performance at 3pm. We’re really looking forward to welcoming her back and seeing Like Warriors being performed live.

Celebrating 25 years of Oxgangs Library

1990: a momentous year. Gazza wept, Margaret Thatcher resigned… and Oxgangs Library opened its doors to the public.

We invited friends and supporters to join us in celebrating a quarter century at the heart of the local community. It is these community connections that we hope to work on so that in 25 years we will be celebrating a similar occasion for a community library that is even more fabulous than it is now!

Here’s Councillor Elaine Aitken (acting as Baillie representing the Lord Provost) cutting our birthday cake under the watchful eye of Library Team Leader John McGowan.

cake cutting

Meanwhile musical entertainment was provided by pupils from Firrhill High School


Edinburgh South West MP Joanna Cherry took the opportunity to peruse Book Week Scotland’s Journeys anthology.


And more tunes were supplied by Lindsay McCullough  – the only member of the original Oxgangs Library team who’s still working in Edinburgh Libraries.


Try our dyslexia-friendly library services

An informal opportunity over a cuppa to see the how our library services are helpful and accessible to adults with any level of dyslexia.

Oxgangs Library, Tuesday 24th March from 6.30 – 8.00pm

See how to use our e-books, and e-magazines…did you know the text can be fine-tuned to suit you?

Our e- audio books are great for listening to in the car, outside, anywhere.

We’ll try to answer your questions or put you in touch with somebody who can.

Andy McNab at Oxgangs Library

Fans of ‘Bravo Two Zero’ author Andy McNab got a rare chance to meet up with the master of action and suspense yesterday at Oxgangs Library.


The former SAS soldier spoke openly and engagingly about his tough upbringing, his experiences in the army, his writing life and his work in Hollywood.

Andy was particularly passionate when speaking about the importance of developing literacy skills and the power that comes with reading and knowledge.

A fascinating and inspirational talk – thanks Andy!

Pop-up opera returns to Edinburgh’s Libraries

Love in a Library is back! Edinburgh International Festival’s series of pop up performances are coming to a library near you  Here’s what to expect:

Performance venues and dates:

Central Library: Tuesday 13th May, 12.30pm

Stockbridge Library: Monday 9th June, 3.30pm

Central Library: Tuesday 10th June, 12.30pm

Wester Hailes Library: Friday 13th June, 3.30pm

Fountainbridge Library: Thursday 19th June, 2.00pm

Oxgangs Library: Friday 20th June, 11.00am

Morningside Library: Wednesday 23rd July, 3.00pm

Andy McNab comes to Oxgangs Library

Your mission: Brunch and banter with bestselling author and former SAS soldier Andy McNab.

Location: Oxgangs Library

Call: 0131 529 5549 to book.

Andy’s book Last night another soldier is one of the Quick Reads series of short, easy to read books for adults who are less confident with their reading skills. So this event is especially suitable for anyone discovering the joys of reading for the first time.

Watch Andy and a host other celebrities and authors talking openly and passionately about their relationship with reading – both good and bad – in this short film:

Book group for parents with young children launches at Oxgangs Library

babyOxgangsOxgangs Library have just launched a new book group aimed at parents with young babies.  If you’ve been held back from attending a book group because of childcare arrangements then this book group could be exactly what you are looking for.

Come along to Oxgangs Library and meet like minded parents have a chat about books and reading. These friendly fun sessions will include short stories, poetry and short readings. There also be time to share books and rhymes with baby too.

Forthcoming sessions will take place on March 17 and 31, April 28 and May 12.

For more information email Carol Marr at Oxgangs Library or phone 0131 529 5546.

Coming soon… Previously

Now in its third year, Previously…the festival of Scottish History, just gets bigger and better. Here are four ways you can get involved:

1. Share your memories of Corstorphine

Corstorphine residents past and present are invited to the library at 6.30pm on Wednesday 20th November, for an illustrated talk on the history of the village followed by your opportunity to share a Corstorphine memory or anecdote. If you’ve got something you’d like to share contact Corstorphine Library in advance so we can make sure there’s time to fit everyone in. 

2. Celebrate one of Edinburgh’s most famous sons

UN739 RLS Day 2012 Block

Mark Robert Louis Stevenson Day on 13 November with walks, talks and afternoon tea.

3. Join The Big Book Club

Join the biggest Book Club ever as we discuss ‘The Glorious Thing’ by Christine Orr. Set in Edinburgh in 1916, this funny, sometimes tragic, beautifully written novel centres on a group of young people trying to find their place in society. Orr examines the changing role of women, politics and religion against the backdrop of the First World War. Contact for your free copy of the book in advance of the event and book online to reserve places for your book group.

4. Explore Edinburgh’s hidden past

Our Town Stories brings the hidden stories from Edinburgh’s past to life with some amazing photographs. Find out about the country’s oldest fire brigade and read the story of the nine-year-old suffragette.

There are well over 200 other events to choose from – visit the Previously… site for details

Guerilla opera and mystery sculptures

Libraries are full of surprises. Take last week…

Visitors to Oxgangs, Central and Wester Hailes Libraries were taken aback when one of their fellow browsers burst into song. Things got stranger still when a “member of staff” joined in… and what about the guy playing the piano in the corner – where did he appear from??

This was “Love in a Library” – a series of “guerilla operas” put on by our chums from the Edinburgh International Festival. Here’s a film of one of the performances along with an interview with the performers. Bravo!

Meanwhile Edinburgh’s mystery book sculptor struck again. The latest creation was dropped off at Leith Library to the surprise and delight of staff and visitors. This one is called ‘Preparing to fly” and it’s every bit as intricate and beautiful as our elusive artist’s previous work. This is one story that looks set to run and run…

Harps in Session

To celebrate the forthcoming Edinburgh International Harp Festival, now in its 32nd year, Central Library will be hosting a ‘harps in session’ in the foyer on Sat 23rd March from 12-1pm and 1.30 – 2.30. Various harp players will fill the library with their magical sounds.

harp festival logoThe EIHF is organised by The Clarsach Society and its Artistic Advisers, Isobel Mieras and Patsy Seddon will be on hand to tell you more about it.

Oxgangs Library is also getting involved, with two ‘Stories with Harp’ sessions on Thursday 28th March. There will be a performance for under 8s and their parents and carers from 10.30 – 11.30am and another for everyone over the age of 8 from 2.30 – 3.30pm. These will include the opportunity for audience members to try some hands-on harping for themselves.

Seeing as it’s Burns night tonight…

How about some poetry to start the day? Oxgangs Library recently hosted its first ever Renga poetry session. Renga is a thousand year old Japanese form of shared writing, where participants sit, listen, write and read their poetry together.

So here we present the fruits of their labour – Oxgangs Renga

Oxgangs Renga

The frosty snow fell soft
perfectly laid out
on a winter’s night

Streets of frost, ice dark
scarfs, coats, duvets, gloves, boots, furs –
porridge or soup, logs fires or snow

The snow crackled slowly
under the young children’s feet
on a winter’s day

Hope changes tulips, clocks afresh
like warm birds, lambs nest anew

A lamb is born
among daffodils it lays
the farmer collects the eggs

Harvest everywhere
children play among tulips
The air feels fresh, clear

School uniform on, every day of spring, walk
to school among flowers, drinking chocolate in my head

Everyone gets cherries
Beach tide comes in each day
tanned girls in Ibiza bikinis

Flip flops flopping on the sand
sunglasses on my face
warm breeze hits my legs

The air gets colder, the beach becomes quiet
The holidays over, shorts back in the drawer

Harvest moon, yellow full
glowing leaves falling, damp earth
apples, berries; pick store box

Bonfire leaves red
Halloween toffee, bramble mists
bare trees, damp ground falling

Fresh starts, new beginnings
seasons end in cycles.

It’s time for Renga

What is Renga? Renga is a thousand year old Japanese form of shared writing. People sit, listen, write and read their poetry together. It’s an art of time and space as well as words and images.

Intrigued? Well, our Reader in Residence Ryan Van Winkle will be hosting our very first “Sharing Haiku and Renga” session on Wednesday 16th January at 2.30pm at Oxgangs Library. Why not come along and create something beautiful?

BBC’s Big Debate comes to the library

What’s got your dander up? Wind turbines? The economy? Europe? Education?

BBC Radio Scotland is bringing Brian Taylor’s Big Debate to Oxgangs Library on Friday 7th December. The show goes out live from 12pm – 1pm. You can book your place and send your questions to or go to the BBC Radio Scotland web site.

This isn’t the first time Oxgangs Library has hosted the show. Here’s a pic from November 2010 when Brian was joined by Robin Harper MSP, Margo MacDonald MSP, Joy Hendry of Chapman magazine and David McLetchie MSP.

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.

Thrills and chills with “Scream Street” author Tommy Donbavand


Probably best known for the popular ‘Scream Street‘ series of children’s books, writer Tommy Donbavand has also penned titles including “My teacher ate my brain” and “Terror in cubicle four”, as well as writing for CBBC’s “Planet Cooks”.

No stranger to the performing arts, panto veteran Tommy knows how to put on a show, so we’re really looking forward to his forthcoming visit to Oxgangs Library.

Although we’re not sure whether he’ll be wearing his fairy costume for the occasion…

Tommy will be at Oxgangs on Friday 9th November, from 2.30 – 3.30pm. Book your place by calling 0131 529 5548 or emailing

Tommy’s just one of the fantastic authors we’ve got lined up for Dyslexia Awareness Week 2012. Take a look at the programme to find out what else is happening.