New pop-up exhibition in Edinburgh Libraries explores British Chinese communities and culture alongside British Library exhibition

Opening on Friday 18 November, the display draws on personal stories and moments of national significance to ask what it means to be Chinese and British.

Inspired by the Chinese and British exhibition at the British Library (18 November 2022 to 23 April 2023), the display celebrates the lasting impact of Chinese communities in the UK, from wartime service and contributions to popular cuisine to achievements in literature, sport, music, fashion and film.

You can find the display in the following libraries:

Friday 18 November to Friday 16 December 2022 – Newington Library

Monday 19 December 2022 to Saturday 14 January 2023 – Leith Library

Monday 16 January to Saturday 18 February 2023 – Central Library

Monday 20 February to Saturday 18 March 2023 – Forrester High School*

Monday 20 March 2023 to Saturday 22 April 2023 – Blackhall Library

From the first recorded individuals arriving from China in the late 1600s to Liverpool becoming Europe’s first Chinatown in the 1850s, Chinese people, who trace their heritage to regions across east and southeast Asia, have played an active part in British society for over 300 years.

Edinburgh Libraries are one of over 30 library services across the UK highlighting the rich history of Chinese British communities as part of the Living Knowledge Network, a UK-wide partnership of national and public libraries. The Living Knowledge Network are hosting a series of events showcasing Chinese culture in the UK, including:

  • the launch of Chinese and British livestreamed from the British Library featuring Helena Lee, journalist and founder of East Side Voices, and Dr Wei Yang, internationally renowned town planner and urban designer, on 17 November 2022
  • an evening exploring the history of UK Chinatowns, on 28 November 2022
  • a celebration of the Lunar New Year with British Chinese authors and artists discussing literature and storytelling livestreamed from Liverpool, Europe’s first Chinatown, on 21 January 2023. 

Liz White, Head of Public Libraries and Community Engagement at the British Library, said: ‘People and their stories form the core of the Chinese and British exhibition in London and the displays in local libraries across the UK. The Living Knowledge Network partnership enables us to connect with people across the country so this is a great opportunity to celebrate the lasting impact of Chinese communities in the UK and uncover more stories along the way.’

Chinese and British has been curated by Dr Lucienne Loh at the University of Liverpool and Dr Alex Tickell at the Open University in collaboration with the British Library.

The Living Knowledge Network streams free events, exhibitions and workshops from libraries across the UK through

*The display boards will not be available to view by the public whilst at Forrester High School.

It’s tapestry month this November at Central Library

Golden Threads reawakened – weaving a legacy

Central Library are delighted to be displaying through November an amazing community woven tapestry, Golden Threads, created by a group of amateur weavers based in Edinburgh. Find this beautiful display in the main staircase cabinets at Central Library.

The tapestry has a very interesting story taking its name from the golden threads it uses that were collected by the German Jew Hedwig Philip and that have not seen the light of day for some thirty years. Hedwig and her husband left Berlin in 1941, narrowly missing the Holocaust, travelling to join family in Pennsylvania.

Photo of Hedwig and the contents of her needlework box not opened for 70 years

Hedwig was a skilled needlewoman: she collected golden threads and embroidered a Torah Mantle for the local synagogue. In 1951 Hedwig travelled with all her belongings to Britain to join her daughter in Newcastle, dying not long afterwards. Hedwig’s box of threads, unopened, was passed from her daughter to her granddaughter, Cathie Wright.

Photo of Golden Threads tapestry

Cathie wanted something purposeful and interesting to be done with the threads. This secular tapestry pays homage to Hedwig’s story using her historic golden threads woven together with contemporary red and gray yarns. The tapestry Golden Threads is divided into sixteen panels designed by the sixteen amateur weavers Judith Barton, Sandra Carter, Sarah Clark, Barbara Clarke, Sylvia Davidson, Jackie Grant, Elspeth Hosie, Joan Houston, Kirsteen Kershaw, Joan MacLellan, Irene McCombe, Francesca McGrath, Lindi McWilliam, Serena Naismith, Anita Nolan, Hilary Watkinson and Ann Smuga. Together the panels pay homage to Hedwig’s story but the quantity and beauty of the threads, the heritage and the journey travelled, called for something more. The result is a modern, secular tapestry incorporating these historic golden threads, drawing on themes of Jewish heritage, refugee travel and survival, conflict avoidance, building bridges and seeking a better world with hope for a brighter future.

To quote from Cathie,

“This is a community enterprise that takes the threads from one spiritual tradition to universal themes that celebrate life and survival”.

The tapestries are woven with contemporary materials (wools and cottons) supplementing the old golden threads. They are joined with an overlay of golden braid which also came from Hedwig’s box. The overall size of the composite tapestry is 30 inches square. Thanks also to professional tapestry artists Joanne Soroka and Jo McDonald.

Supporting the display of the Golden Threads tapestry are books on tapestry weaving from the Art and Design Library.

Art of Tapestry author talk with Helen Wyld

If you enjoy looking at the Golden Threads tapestry and want to learn more about the art of tapestry come and hear author and Senior Curator of Historic Textiles at National Museums Scotland, Helen Wyld, deliver a free illustrated talk about her new book The Art of Tapestry. The book explores the National Trust’s collection of historic tapestries and brings new perspectives to the history of tapestry across Europe.

The Art of Tapestry with Helen Wyld will take place on Tuesday 22 November from 6:30 to 7:30pm in the George Washington Browne Room at Central Library.
Book your free ticket via Eventbrite.

Cinema and literature, screening of Out in the Open, part of the Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival 2022

We are delighted to be taking part in this year’s Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival and the venue for a screening of Intemperie, or known in English as, Out in the Open. The film is based on the 2013 novel written by the English PEN Award winner Jesús Carrasco.

Join us on Friday 4 November 2022 at Central Library for the screening, followed by a Question and Answer session with author Jesús Carrasco chaired by Professor Alexis Grohman (Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies at the University of Edinburgh).

The event is a part of the ninth edition of the Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival (ESFF).

For more information and to book your free ticket for this special event, visit Eventbrite.

If you have any questions, please contact the Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival on

Time for change: Action not words – Black History Month at Central Library

Black History Month runs through October and this year takes the theme ‘Time for Change: Action Not Words’. A display responding to this theme has been installed in the Central Library staircase exhibition cabinets. We’re also running a short programme of author events on Monday 24 and Tuesday 25 October.

The summer of 2020 saw protests, demonstrations and marches across the world in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and in response to police brutality being witnessed against Black people.

Cardboard placard painted white, yellow and black with red and blue flowers. It reads “I don’t want to get political but your ignorance kills real people”.
City of Edinburgh Council Museums & Galleries

Protests were also held in Edinburgh, including a static demonstration on Sunday 7 June, from which colleagues from Museums and Galleries Edinburgh acquired a large donation of placards, banners and signs. These placards and signs demonstrate the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement to Edinburgh residents and the wide-ranging impact of the movement on the city.

Taking the theme of Time for Change: Action Not Words, Central Library are displaying selected reproductions of some of these placards and banners collected by Museums and Galleries Edinburgh alongside books held in the collections of Central Library promoting the contribution of people of colour to society and recounting their experiences. The collections reflect our wish to offer a broad range of material including works related to or created by those from under-represented groups. All images are reproduced with permission of City of Edinburgh Council Museums & Galleries.

Cardboard placard which reads ‘Racism isn’t born it’s taught. Please keep 2 metres, keep safe!”
City of Edinburgh Council Museums & Galleries

View more of the placards, signs and banners collected at the demonstration in Edinburgh in an online exhibition on Capital Collections.

Come to our Black History Month author events:

Monday 24 October, 6.30 – 7.30pm at Central Library
Join Kate Phillips, author of Bought & Sold: Scotland, Jamaica and Slavery

Kate will talk about the powerful political elite in Scotland in the 1700s, who had investments in all aspects of the slave trade. How the anti-slavery campaign was pursued on the streets of Edinburgh, the devastating blow dealt by Henry Dundas, their member of Parliament, Home Secretary and leader of the Tory Party, in the spring of 1792. He proposed that ending the trade should be ‘gradual’ allowing his party colleagues to talk out the anti-slavery bill and the continuing capture and shipping of hundreds of thousands of African men, women and children into a life of enslavement and the propaganda campaign against black people which was then launched by vested interests here in Scotland to protect their business interests and how that white supremacist version of history became ours.

Book your free place via Eventbrite for Bought & Sold: Scotland, Jamaica and Slavery

Tuesday 25 October, 6.30 – 7.30pm at Central Library
Join author, broadcaster and journalist Stuart Cosgrove as he tells the epic story of Black music and the White House from his new book Hey America!

Hey America! is the story of how Black music came from the margins of American life in the early twentieth century through to the mainstream under Barack Obama’s presidency and then was mobilised as a force for radical opposition to Donald Trump’s administration.

Book your free place via Eventbrite for Hey America!

Write your mountain!

Join Anna Fleming, author, mountain leader and rock climber for a workshop on writing the mountains. 

In this creative writing session for young people, Anna will introduce you to the world of the mountains. She will bring climbing equipment and stories from her own experiences in Scotland, Norway and Greece.  

Taking inspiration from other remarkable women writers and climbers, including Gwen Moffat, Nan Shepherd and Helen Mort, Anna will lead exercises that will help you to harness their strength and write your own mountain.  

No previous knowledge of climbing or mountains is necessary – come with an open mind!  

This session is aimed at young people aged 14-18 and will take place at Stockbridge Library on Monday 10 October from 5.30 to 7pm.

Places are limited so please book your free place via Eventbrite.

Virtual creative writing workshops this autumn from Edinburgh’s award-winning Makar, Hannah Lavery

We are delighted to announce, “Our Stories”, an exciting new series of free creative writing workshops in conjunction with Hannah Lavery, Makar of the City of Edinburgh.

2022 is also Scotland’s “Year of Stories”, celebrating the rich literary heritage of the country and looking ahead to future generations of budding writers and storytellers.

These informal sessions are a unique opportunity for those wanting to learn how to run their own creative writing sessions in their communities. They will focus on ways to support group members in sharing their stories and celebrate the themes and ideas that matter to them.

The programme will culminate in a showcase event attended by the Makar along with invited guest poets in April 2023. During this event all participants will have the opportunity to display their work. 

The following three dates have been confirmed, however booking in advance is essential as attendance is limited to 15 people per workshop:

Group One – 14th September 22, 16th November 22, 15th February 23 at 11.30am to 12.30pm.

Group Two – 14th September 22, 16th November 22, 15th February 23 at 1.30pm to 2.30pm.

Makar Hannah Lavery said, “I am so pleased to be able to offer these workshops as part of my Makar-ship and I really hope to support groups across Edinburgh to explore creative writing as a way of telling their stories and the stories of the city, and I am especially looking forward to us all coming together next year to celebrate the writing”. 

Councillor Val Walker, Culture and Communities Convener said, “In this Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022, I am delighted that this unique and exciting programme is taking place. ‘Our Stories’ reaffirms the capital’s status as a creative and literary centre.
I am confident that these workshops will provide positive knock-on effects in communities around our city as more of our citizens experience the magic of creative writing and storytelling”.

For more information and to book email or phone 07970 820352

Celebrating Leith Library’s 90th Birthday

From bombs to visiting elephants, Leith Library has seen its fair share of events.

This month marks the 90th anniversary of the library opening and we celebrate the anniversary with a new exhibition on Capital Collections of photographs going back to 1932.

Leith Library, 1932

The exhibition features among many fascinating images, one of the original architect’s plan, dated from 1927. The library was badly damaged in an air raid in April 1941, but was restored and reopened in 1955.

Elephant visit, The Scotsmans Publications Ltd., 1976

Why not have a look at the Leith Library online exhibition and find out exactly why an elephant made a visit!

The Edinburgh Women’s Mural goes on tour!

A big thank you to everybody that came to see Central Library’s beautiful Edinburgh Women’s Mural while it was on display in the foyer, and another big thank you to the people that attended our short series of Mural Talks. 

Here, below, are the wonderful Iffat Shahnaz and Roshni Gallagher in conversation last week, talking at a sold-out event about their life experiences and insights as women of colour living in Edinburgh.

Central Library says goodbye to the Edinburgh Women’s Mural as it embarks on a short summer tour of community libraries, where local people will be able to visit the Mural on display and take part in related events. 

The itinerary is as follows:
Wester Hailes Library: 4-16 July
Blackhall Library: 18 – 30 July
Stockbridge Library: 1 – 13 August 
Oxgangs Library: 15 – 27 August 
Craigmillar Library: 29 August – 11 September 

Then it’s back to Central Library in mid-September where we hope to run a short series of school events. 

Watch this space for updates!

Breaking news! Giraffe about Town!

Edinburgh Libraries are proud to partner with Edinburgh Zoo and City Fibre on the Giraffe about Town project.

Giraffe About Town is a free art trail featuring more than 40 magnificent giraffe sculptures that will take you on a journey across Scotland’s capital this summer from 1 July to 29 August.

Skittles at Wester Hailes Library

In partnership with Wild in Art, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s Edinburgh Zoo is delighted to share this exciting trail with local people and visitors to help our city recover after lockdown and raise much needed funds for wildlife conservation.

Each incredible sculpture has been sponsored by amazing organisations and businesses. They have been decorated by artists, communities and school children to celebrate Edinburgh’s extraordinary heritage and cultural diversity, and to encourage everyone to explore our city’s hidden gems and iconic locations.

Richie at Craigmillar Library

Edinburgh Libraries are hosting –

Edi-B in Balgreen Library

Richie in Craigmillar Library

Salam in Leith Library

Clovie in Oxgangs Library

Gemma in Piershill Library

Gertie-GiGi in Sighthill Library

Skittles in Westerhailes Library

Come along and visit our giraffe guests and keep an eye out on our Libraries’ Facebook pages for workshops and events to celebrate The Wee Herd during their stay in our libraries.

The Giraffe about Town website, has an interactive map and a host of information to help you discover where all the Giraffes are located in Edinburgh.

After the trail itself, there will be a fantastic ‘farewell’ weekend with the entire herd of tall and small giraffes together at the zoo.  In October the giraffes will then be auctioned to raise money for wildlife conservation.

Gertie Gigi at Sighthill Library
Edi B at Balgreen Library

Edinburgh Libraries are proud to be part of the Living Knowledge Network with the British Library and are hosting various events and competitions across the city.

Art makes us with Art Buds Collective

Edinburgh Libraries are teaming up with Edinburgh Art Festival to host art workshops for children this August delivered by Art Buds Collective.

Inspired by the diverse wildlife, histories and geographies of the Union Canal, we’ll use art to imagine a more planet friendly future.

Free artist-led workshops for children and families across the city – and on the water – will take you on a journey filled with sensory fun and big environmental questions. Use your creativity to rethink local green spaces and waterways and dream up a better world. Get set for adventures – exploring sound, movement, sculpture and sustainable art-making.
Book for these workshops via

Art Buds workshop, Edinburgh Art Festival 2021. Photo: Sally Jubb

Shapes in the city – invent, construct, climb!
Make huge, recycled sculptures inspired by bridges, tunnels and waterways! Created for ages 5 – 12. Parents of under 8s must book a place.

Tuesday 2 August, 10.30am – 12.30pm
Central Library, George IV Bridge, EH1 1EG (SOLD OUT)

Tuesday 9 August, 10.30am – 12.30pm
Fountainbridge Library, 137 Dundee St, EH11 1BG

Friday 19 August, 1pm – 3pm
Wester Hailes Library, 1 Westside Plaza, EH14 2ST

Sounds in the city  – listen, sculpt, get noisy!
Make sound sculptures in the garden, give a noisy performance, then finish with homemade pizza! Created for ages 4 – 8 and their families.

Friday 12 August, 11am – 1pm, Johnston Terrace Wildlife Garden, Johnston Terrace, EH1 2JT, limited access

Wonder on the water – investigate, make, fly your flag!
Set sail on a boat along the canal as we create maps and flags inspired by the history of our waterways. You might even spot some wildlife! Created for ages 4 – 10 and their families.

Friday 5 August, 3 – 5pm, departs from Union Canal at Leamington Lift Bridge, Leamington Road, EH3 9PD, wheelchair friendly and toilet onboard

Book your free tickets at Edinburgh Art Festival. To discuss access requirements, please contact

Art Buds Collective is a social enterprise dedicated to the delivery of sustainable arts education for children across Edinburgh. Creativity, the creative journey and protecting the planet are at the heart of their workshops. Follow Art Buds Collective on Instagram at @art_buds_collective

Women and the environment: Activists, pioneers, and gardeners. 

Join us next month for an exciting programme of events celebrating women activists, pioneers and gardeners.

Part of the Harpies, Fechters and Quines 2022 events programme, Women and the Environment: Activists, Pioneers, and Gardeners is a collaboration with the Bonnie Fechters, Glasgow Women’s Library and Edinburgh City Libraries.

The Three I’s: Isobel Gunn, Isabella Bird and Isobel Wylie Hutchison
Tuesday 7 June at 2pm, George Washington Browne Room, Central Library

Jane George, a tutor in Scottish women’s history and a member of the Bonnie Fechters, will give a talk on The Three I’s: Isobel Gunn, Isabella Bird and Isobel Wylie Hutchison, three unconventional, intrepid and inspirational women whose lives spanned three centuries and whose enthusiasm for exploring and travelling in relatively unknown environments challenged the social conventions of their time.
Book your free ticket via Eventbrite.

“Scots women who chose to challenge”
Wednesday 8 June at 11am, George Washington Browne Room, Central Library

Jackie Sangster is a Learning Manager with the Learning & Inclusion team at Historic Environment Scotland – working across Scotland to bring people of all ages and backgrounds the opportunity to discover, explore, understand, and be inspired by our historic environment. Mostly Jackie works with digital archive material from Scran – that’s ½ million records, not counting all the other HES archives such as Canmore. As a former teacher, she endeavours to make engagement with school and community groups as creative as possible. Allowing people to explore heritage in a meaningful and enjoyable way.

Her talk will explore archive material, meeting Scots women who‘ve made their mark in their respective fields whether in politics, law, medicine, the arts or the world of sport. Introducing some well know faces through archive photography and perhaps a few less familiar, but nonetheless inspiring individuals who chose to challenge their world.
Book your free ticket via Eventbrite.

Sister Earth – Story Café
Wednesday 8 June at 1pm on Zoom, a women only event

In these uncertain times, nature has become more important than ever to us as a source of calm, and healing. In this story cafe, we look to women’s writings and stories of action that celebrate our natural environment, from urban gardeners and wild walkers to women working together on issues of climate change and preserving and protecting our natural environment. We’ll be reading from poetry, prose and fiction about how ordinary and extraordinary women are getting to grips with the present and future of our precious landscapes.  Grab a cup of tea and bit of cake, then sit back and enjoy!
Book through Glasgow Women’s Library

An introduction to climate change and why it’s important that we do something about it.
Thursday 9 June at 2pm, George Washington Browne Room, Central Library

Kirsten Leggatt is a Climate Change Consultant for Arup and a tutor on the online Carbon Management Masters at the University of Edinburgh. She is heavily involved as a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Ambassador in schools teaching students and young people about the causes and consequences of climate change. In January 2020, she presented evidence to the UK Climate Assembly on the solutions to reaching the UK Government’s net-zero emissions target by 2050 and has since represented young people on the Stewarding Group for the Scottish Climate Assembly.
Book your free ticket via Eventbrite.

The garden Ella grew – a Japanese garden in Scotland 
Monday 13 June at 11am, George Washington Browne Room, Central Library

The Japanese Garden, Cowden is a ‘wee’ gem, hidden amongst the hills of Clackmannanshire in Scotland. Created in 1908 by Japanese landscape architect Taki Handa, it was the dream of Ella Christie, independent traveller and explorer, who had journeyed to Japan herself the year before. In 2018 the garden opened to visitors after an extensive restoration project and today it’s unique beauty amongst the Ochil hills is available for everyone to see. 

Join us as we share its history and layout.
Book your free ticket via Eventbrite.

Ground-breaking: Women at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Thursday 16 June at 2pm, George Washington Browne Room, Central Library

Graham Hardy is a member of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh’s Library and Archives team. 

RBGE’s history has always been told from the vantage point of the Regius Keepers and Principal Gardens/Curators, because they leave the biggest historical record.  Tucked away in manuscript accounts and notebooks are the names of the men who were paid to do the work and also as time progressed from the middle of the eighteenth century women’s names start to appear.  

Using original source material from the collections, Graham will give an overview of some of the women who worked or were heavily involved with The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh from 1750 to the present. Their roles range from the anonymous women paid to weed to illustrators, tutors/teachers, gardeners, plant collectors, laboratory and herbarium staff, administrators, scientific researchers and research students. 

Graham’s research, undertaken when not working in his professional capacity, has been much helped by research both national and international on the topic and also by input and enthusiasm from colleagues, volunteers and research associates.  His research is ongoing.  There may be much for Graham and others still to unearth, but we will receive an excellent insight to how much has already been discovered.
Book your free ticket via Eventbrite.

All events, apart from the online Story Cafe, take place in the George Washington Room at Central Library. The George Washington Browne Room is accessible by stairs or the public lift.

Bookbug Week 2022 – join Bookbug’s big journey!

It’s Bookbug Week! We’ll be celebrating all kinds of journeys, whether it’s the excitement of riding on the bus or a train, strolls through the park, an adventure to outer space or even just a wee trip out in a buggy!

There’s lots of excitement in store this Bookbug Week.

Blackhall Library
Special multilingual Bookbug session takes place in the library garden (weather permitting) on Thursday 19 May at 10.30am. Please see Blackhall Library Facebook page for booking details.

Central Library
10.30am on Tuesday 17 and Friday 20 May
Join us in our Children’s Library for special journey themed sessions. Please see Central Library’s Facebook page for booking information.

Craigmillar Library
On Friday 20 May Bookbug is going on a big journey camping! Join Hannah for a walk around the Library garden with your favourite teddy bear, have a ‘camp-fire’ sing-along and then we will go to Bookbug’s campsite! Inside our special black-out sensory den you will be able to watch the Northern Lights, see the stars come out and enjoy a sleepy storytime.

This event is limited to small groups of five families, and is designed to be inclusive of children with autism or sensory processing issues, or who may find larger, noisier groups overwhelming. If the weather is too bad for an outdoor adventure we will still host the event indoors, and if all the tickets for this session get snapped up, we will add more sessions later in the day. Please check Craigmillar Library Facebook page for booking details.

Mobile Libraries
Our Mobile Library team will be popping along to Fox Covert Early Years Centre on Wednesday afternoon to celebrate Bookbug Week (closed event).

Moredun and Gilmerton Libraries
Bookbug is taking his Big Journey to the Union Canal on the Lochrin Belle, on Tuesday with his friends from Rainbow Kindergarten Nursery (closed event).

There will be two special Big Journey themed sessions at Gilmerton Library during the week, at 2.30pm on Tuesday 17 May and at 10.30am on Friday 20 May.

Oxgangs Library
Join our friends from Oxgangs Library for a special outdoor session at the Oxgangs Spring event at Colinton Mains Park on Friday 20 May between 1 and 4pm.

Stockbridge Library
On Monday 16 May, we will have a special storytelling and craft session around the Bookbug week theme Big Journeys. On Saturday we will have themed Bookbug and storytelling session with songs, rhymes and stories about buses, cars, rockets and boats.

Wester Hailes and Sighthill Libraries
Staff at Wester Hailes and Sighthill Libraries are joining forces to take you on a special Bookbug buggy walk. Details will be released on their Facebook pages.

Public mural project to celebrate women of Edinburgh

Edinburgh Libraries are celebrating International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month with a public mural project!

You’ll have noticed how few public monuments to women there are in Edinburgh, despite the tireless efforts of local groups such as the Elsie Inglis Campaign. Yet there are literally hundreds of notable women, past and present, whose contributions to our shared history and our city deserve greater recognition. At Central Library, we’ve decided to redress the balance by creating out own public monument to Edinburgh’s female pioneers and trailblazers. We put out a call to local women’s groups, charities, and organisations such as the National Library of Scotland, and asked for nominations for our mural. We asked local academics and campaigners to help us uncover the lives and stories of many of Edinburgh’s unsung heroines, and we did some digging into the Library’s own resources.

Particularly useful was a book by local author and activist Sara Sheridan, ‘Where are the Women? A Guide to an Imagined Scotland’ (2021) which describes an alternative cultural landscape, where streets, buildings, monuments and landmarks are all dedicated to women. Sara’s immense amount of research added many names to our list.

Borrow Where are the Women? via Libby

Sara kindly took the time to speak to us about a few of her favourite figures from Edinburgh’s history. Watch the video (subtitles available) here:

The mural project – what is it?

We have taken inspiration from a wonderful project which has been running in the USA since 2016. “Work in Progress” seeks to shine a spotlight on female pioneers across many fields and was devised by artists Jann Haworth and Liberty Blake. See a detail here, courtesy of Granary Arts, Utah:

Edinburgh Libraries have been granted permission to create our own version, and this is where you can help!

We are aiming to produce stencilled portraits of as many women as possible from our nomination list. Some of these are already being produced by students at participating Edinburgh high schools, and we invite Edinburgh residents to come to the Library and help us create more!

The workshops – what will we do?

Participants will come into Central Library on one of several dates for an afternoon’s guided stencilling session. No artistic experience is necessary, and the process will be fully explained. There will be over 100 head-and-shoulders images of nominated women ready printed, for people to select, cut, and stencil – resulting in beautiful, unique portraits. Library staff will then gather and collate all the portraits, using them to create a ‘crowd-scene’ mural. We aim to have this finished and ready to exhibit at Central Library and online by early May. Some linked activities, such as live talks, will also follow.

Who would you choose….?

If you would like to take part, please book a place at one of our Saturday afternoon workshops.

Please note, due to the use of sharp tools, this event is offered to over-18s only and due to Covid precautions, each event is limited to 15 participants.

Workshops will take place on Saturday 12, 19 and 26 March, with some potential for further sessions to be added.

Book for workshop on Saturday 12 March

Book for workshop on Saturday 19 March

Book for workshop on Saturday 26 March.

World Book Day is coming!

World Book Day celebrates its 25th year on 3rd March this year with the theme – ‘you are a reader’. Libraries across Edinburgh and our school libraries are putting together a range of events. Don’t forget to check out your local library Facebook page for further details.

Some of our highlights are listed below:
Community Libraries

Blackhall Library
Blackhall have 10 class visits slots planned and a host of fun activities for the children to enjoy. At the end of their visit, the children will receive a note from the ‘Bank of Blackhall’ and will take home a book.

Central Library
Central Library and Central Children’s will both have special World Book Day displays.

Currie Library
Currie Library –  will be running a Bookbug as usual in the morning, followed by two storytimes (one for 3-6’s and one for 7-10’s) and two drop-in crafts. They will also be asking children to find ‘Wally’ to win stickers.

Fountainbridge and Balgreen Libraries
Fountainbridge and Balgreen Libraries are working together with classes and local community groups to create a very special video which will be revealed on World Book Day on their social media pages.
Fountainbridge also has a storytelling session on World Book Day for 7 to 11 years old, from 3.45 to 4.15pm.

Moredun Library
Moredun Library are having a World Book Day party on Thursday 3 March from 3.30 to 4.30pm. There will be a book treasure hunt, quizzes, a book cover competition, word games and activities. (Spaces are limited and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.)

Morningside Library
Morningside will have an adult’s staff favourites, an adult’s book quiz and three books read in a foreign language, French, Greek and Africaans. Follow the fun on their Facebook page.
They’ll also be running a picture book cover quiz for children on Facebook.

Muirhouse Library
Muirhouse Library are pairing up with their local nursery for a range of stories and crafts.

Oxgangs Library
Oxgangs – will be hosting library sessions in the local primary school.

Portobello Library
Portobello Library will be having a World Book Day books treasure hunt, a picture book quiz for toddlers and their parents/carers, a colour in competition for 3-5 years and another for 6+ years.

Ratho Library
Ratho – will be hosting library sessions in the local primary school.

Sighthill Library
Sighthill – will be hosting library sessions in the local primary school.

Wester Hailes Library
Wester Hailes are reaching out to local primary schools for class visits to the library around World Book Day.
They’ll have some children’s resources (quiz & craft packs) available to pick up from the library too.

School Library Activities

Forrester’s High School
Forrester’s High School have Blackwell’s Bookshop supplying the £1 books and will have various activities (bookmark making / word searches / origami) going on over the whole week. All S1-3 classes can take part and their feature competition this year is a staff masked reader.

Wester Hailes High School
For World Book Day, Ms Prince is doing a presentation for S1 – 3 classes during their reading periods to highlight the fantastic ebook and audiobook resources available via Libby. She has vouchers and a handful of the WBD £1 books to give out as well.

James Gillespie’s High School
James Gillespie’s High School will celebrate with book themed competitions and a display of reader recommendations.

Holy Rood High School
Holy Rood High School will be running competitions across the school during the whole week, and we have a Book Sale courtesy of Blackwell’s Book Shop plus 300 of the £1 books to hand out to S1 and S2 pupils and enough £1 vouchers for everyone else!

Boroughmuir High School
S1 will be celebrating their reading journey and joining in with a book themed bingo.

Gracemount High School
Over the course of the day, Mrs Babbs will be hosting Book Pictionary – to highlight new stock, book tasting – S1 & P7’s, book displays – launch of displays by Nat 5 retail pupils and the £1 World Book Day Book Giveaway.

Liberton High School
Mrs Browne has lots of events planned including Masked Reader, staff dress up – fiction character, Read Or Be Read To, along with the launch of a football themed reading challenge.
Liberton and Gracemount will also both be running a silver themed book hunt to celebrate 25 years of World Book Day.

Ni de aquí, ni de allá. LGBT History Month: Blurring borders with Andrés N Ordorica.

Last night we enjoyed a wonderful poetry performance and Q&A session on Facebook with Andrés N Ordorica.

The full performance and Q&A is now available to watch back on Edinburgh Libraries’ YouTube channel.

At least this I know by Andrés N Ordorica

‘One of my big aims in dealing either with queerness, or immigration, or racial identity was not to stay within the trauma. It was ultimately about reaching joy [..] Saying I understand now this facet of myself, and this is what I know about it, and this is what I choose to share with you.’

To celebrate LGBT history month, Roshni from the Library Resource Management team sat down with the Edinburgh based, queer, Latinx poet Andrés N Ordorica, where he performed and discussed work from his collection ‘At least this I know’. His performance was tender and celebratory – rich with colour, characters, and sometimes flowing into Spanish. There is a sense of honouring those who have come before us. From Chihuahua to Bennachie – the collection journeys through childhood to adulthood. Exploring what it means to find belonging both as an immigrant and within queer communities. Here’s a glimpse into their conversation –

The theme of LGBT history month is ‘blurring borders’. How does your work blur borders?

I think for me what really fascinates me about this idea is it really does feel intrinsic to my understanding of the self. I was born in the US, I’m a second generation American so all four of my grandparents came to the US in the early 1960s from Mexico. So this idea of borders and being fixed in any one place – it just is not true of my own existence.

My identity has never been one that could clearly sort of sit with any one place. To have an American passport, to be American, but then not always be ‘allowed’ to be American. To be questioned you know where are you really from? Oh, your family is from Mexico so you’re Mexican. It’s like well, no, I don’t have a Mexican passport and my Spanish isn’t that great. So, you know the place that I am from doesn’t always allow me to lay claim to it.

How do the themes of vulnerability and celebration coexist in your work?

A lot of these poems are dealing with loss and loss of homeland, loss of youth, and then loss of people. There are a lot of poems that are written in a very eulogy-like way. My hope then is that it allows readers the opportunity to process their own loss and then actively kind of work towards joy and celebration.

In the section that deals with queerness there are some poems in there that are revisiting the difficulty that I had in coming out. Navigation this new world and what it means to be part of this community. Then that section is followed by a section that’s dedicated to my husband and they’re love poems. It’s mapping out someone’s journey of contending with these things – because it’s a great thing to be celebrating LGBT history month but I think it would be negligible to not also acknowledge that for lots of people the journey towards coming out can be very difficult. One of my big aims in dealing either with queerness, or immigration, or racial identity, or racism was not to stay within the trauma. It was ultimately about reaching joy and confidently taking a seat at the table. Saying I understand now this facet of myself, and this is what I know about it, and this is what I choose to share with you.

I love how Spanish bleeds into your work, often people speak to you in Spanish – when and why do you use Spanish in your collection?

I think in choosing to write about especially my grandparents I felt like the most authentic or honourable way to have them as a presence is in their mother tongue. You know my grandparents were not the most confident English speakers – they were able to kind of carve a life for themselves with other Mexican immigrants and therefore were able to sort of get by. I often talk about how my mother growing up often had to be the translator. So you know at age eight, she would be going to the bank with her parents and speaking to these sort of scary older men talking about big sums of money and trying to get a mortgage or this or that –  and so for me to really have them there I wanted them there in Spanish because that’s how I grew up with my grandparents. I wanted that authenticity of my very specific experience of being part of the Latinx diaspora to exist in that way within the poems.

Which poets have inspired you and this collection? Can you recommend any queer or LGBT poets ?

This collection very specifically was inspired by the work of Edwin Morgan. Danez Smith is an amazing queer American poet – how they write about desire and race and racism is just profound. Natalie Diaz and her collection ‘Postcolonial Love Poem’ really was something that resonated with me. And then Nadine Aisha Jassat who’s ‘Let Me Tell You This’ (also published by 404 ink). I like to think that our collections are speaking to each other. Nina Mingya Powles is an amazing, amazing poet. How Nina writes of memory and family and growing up between cultures – how much more robust could our relationships with our grandparents be if we were fluent in our mother tongue?

Queer poets in general that I would recommend – Harry Josephine Giles, her collection Tonguit is beautiful. And Joelle Taylor‘s collection is beautiful and it’s very much about honouring her very specific community – you know a butch lesbian during the 80s and 90s and a history that you know has been done away with through gentrification. There are so many beautiful queer writers both in the UK and around the world who are just doing stunning things.

Enjoy Andrés poetry readings and his full conversation with Roshni on YouTube.

At least this I know by Andrés N Ordorica is available to reserve from Edinburgh Libraries.

The lives and works of Iona McGregor, Edinburgh lesbian novelist by Sigrid Nielsen

It’s evening in Edinburgh on 17 November 1860. As darkness falls, events are taking place all over the foggy, smoky, crowded city.

In the Royal Mile, former Police Inspector James McLevy, is walking his dog, Jenny, named for one of the city’s most notorious thieves. He’s wondering whether life will be dull in his retirement.

Up the hill at Waverley Station, a huge crowd has gathered. Eugenie, Empress of the French, is about to arrive – it’s the first time a French ruler has visited Scotland in centuries. Heavily veiled, the Empress alights from her carriage and acknowledges her admirers. But she barely escapes from a demonstration to seek refuge in her hotel in St Andrew Square.

The Empress is planning to visit a new girls’ school, the Scottish Institute for the Education of Daughters of Gentlefolk in Moray Place. Its scheming headmistress, Lady Superintendent Margaret Napier, is making entries in her Black Book. On the upper floors, student Christabel MacKenzie is writing a sonnet about the woman she loves – her teacher, Eleanor.

This is the opening sequence of Iona McGregor’s 1989 novel, Death Wore A Diadem. It was published by The Women’s Press and launched at West & Wilde, Edinburgh’s lesbian and gay community bookshop – in Dundas Street, not far from the locations where most of the novel takes place.

This photo of Iona in 2005 was taken by Phil Ewe and appeared in Rainbow City, published by Lighthouse. 

Death Wore A Diadem was described at the time as a lesbian mystery (Iona herself referred to it as a lesbian novel). And yes, there’s a theft and a mysterious death. The Empress lends the school her fabulous paste diadem – but it goes missing, a servant is found dead, scandal threatens and Christabel and Eleanor’s romance develops as they work to solve the mystery.

But there’s more to the story. It has a huge cast suggesting a light opera – from the Empress to the real-life detective and crime writer McLevy to a Rose Street landlady who lets rooms by the hour. Detailed Edinburgh history and lesbian history collide.

Death Wore A Diadem was also something else as well – the fulfilment of Iona’s longterm dream. Perhaps it was something she had hoped to do for most of her life.

Born in 1929 in Aldershot, Iona always said she would have been born in Scotland except for the fact that her birth was premature. She described her childhood in 1993 in Bob Cant’s Footsteps and Witnesses: Lesbian and Gay Lifestories from Scotland. The daughter of a teacher in a military school, she had a rough and physically active childhood with his male pupils for friends. A great reader, she had a difficult time at her convent school when she argued with the nuns about evolution, but won a scholarship to a school in Monmouth where she discovered the classics. She spent the summers with her grandmother in St Andrews, a place she loved.

When she began to write in the mid-60s, St Andrews figured in her first young adult historical novel, The Popinjay, the story of a teenage boy marooned in the city during the Wars of Religion. ‘A notable story…the living sense of the time is brought home with intense reality,’ said one reviewer.

The Popinjay was followed in 1968 by An Edinburgh Reel, a more complex work set in the aftermath of the Battle of Culloden in 1745. Christine, the heroine, is 15 when the story opens. Her father, a veteran of Culloden who fought on the losing side and has spent years in exile, returns to Edinburgh a changed man – destitute and suffering from what would today be called post-traumatic stress.

Christine herself is still living with the effects of civil war and the early death of her mother. She and her father find lodgings in a Lawnmarket stair, called Davidson’s Land in the story. Despite more difficulties they are gradually healed – through Christine’s growing strength and the support of a collection of neighbours and strangers.

An Edinburgh Reel received a glowing review in the Times Literary Supplement – ‘a wholly delightful creation,’ their reviewer said. A friend of Iona’s who was worked in children’s publishing a few years later says Iona was well thought of and read at book fairs and children’s events. Later, in 1986, Canongate Books republished it in their Kelpies series.

Iona published another novel set in Fife ten years after An Edinburgh Reel, The Burning Hill. It was substantially based, not on secondary sources, but on memoirs of the time.

In 1972 she published The Tree of Liberty, a young adult novel about Edinburgh at the time of the French Revolution. Her hero, Sandy Lindsay, becomes drawn into radicalism through his friendship with Geordie, a politically active odd-job man who works for his father. He takes part in a riot and is imprisoned, but unrepentant.

Some of the story may reflect changes in Iona’s life as the 1970s progressed. She had begun to work as a volunteer at the Edinburgh Gay Centre in Broughton Street and in Glasgow, organising meeting places and offering support to other LGBT people. Though this sounds like ordinary voluntary work today, it was extremely risky at the time. LGBT people’s jobs and family relationships were at serious risk if they came out and many lived double lives divided by high barriers.

Iona told Bob Cant in her interview in Footsteps and Witnesses that she knew as early as age eight that she was ‘different’. She was strongly attracted to some of her fellow students at her girls’ school – and one of the best things about the classics, she added elsewhere, was ‘Sappho et cetera’, almost the only mention of queer people she could find. 

When she started her working life in the 1950s she found that LGBT people were extremely isolated in Edinburgh, and so she went to London, found a teaching job, and met the woman she called her ‘true love’. They moved to Edinburgh together, but both were teachers and the stress of keeping their relationship absolutely secret became unbearable for Iona’s partner, who left her after 12 years.

Iona’s new career as a lesbian activist may have been the result of her breakup and the secret life she was forced to lead. But it was even more of a threat to her job than her relationship had been. At first she used an assumed name,  but as time went on she welcomed visitors to the gay centre, using her own name, week after week. Another friend remembered her taking part in demonstrations.

Asked if there were any LGBT characters in her young adult novels, she said that the publisher had made it clear that even hints of LGBT feelings were out of the question. Did she ever break the rule? Perhaps, just perhaps, with Sandy and Geordie, she thought.

But she was already have been hoping to write openly and honestly about the lives she imagined for Edinburgh queer folk. And by the beginning of the 1980s, publishing had changed – and there were companies which would give her book a home, not grudgingly, but proudly.

Iona found a sympathetic editor at The Women’s Press, a feminist publisher which welcomed lesbian manuscripts. (The growth of LGBT and feminist presses also made it possible to open Edinburgh’s lesbian and gay bookshop, Lavender Menace, which later became West & Wilde.)

Rosy Mack, PhD student from the University of Texas, recently researched Iona’s correspondence with her Women’s Press editor, Jan Green. Ironically, Iona was more forthcoming about her lesbian identity than about her writing – it was a very private matter for her. Her letters offer some of the only insights we have into her approach to writing, research, and lesbian characters.

In her conversations with Jen Green, Iona meticulously mapped the movements of her characters in the fictional Scottish Institute. She also considered their lives as lesbians carefully – she argued that she did not want to write a novel about fear and inner angst – she felt that Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness had set an unfortunate tone for grim lesbian ‘problem’ fiction. Christabel and Eleanor, no matter what other problems they might have, belonged to an earlier, less dangerous era when even Queen Victoria believed that lesbians did not exist.

The novel may have been the first story of lesbian characters set in Edinburgh. It seems clearly aimed at a sequel, or a series. Christabel and Eleanor are young and their relationship is just beginning: a new theme comes up when Eleanor is accepted for training in the US as one of the first women doctors, while Christabel wants to entice her to Paris.

But the sequel was never written – possibly an opportunity for lovers of lesbian and Edinburgh stories of the future.

Iona continued to live her many lives as a writer, a traveller, a learner, a teacher (she taught for University of the Third Age), a cat lover and a friend. She lived to be 92 and died, sadly missed by her friends and readers, in March last year.

Lavender Menace Queer Books Archive want to celebrate her life for LGBT History Month and highlight her role in the history of Edinburgh.
Come to our live illustrated talk and workshop at Currie Library at 7pm on 18 February.
Book your free ticket via Eventbrite

Or join us online at our Conversations with Writers event, hosted by LGBT Health and Wellbeing, at 7pm on 25 February.
Book for this free event via Eventbrite

As a teacher, an activist, and a writer who made the past lives of Scottish and LGBT people real, Iona surely ranks as one of Edinburgh’s notable women and I will be nominating her at the International Women’s Day Panel at Central Library on 8 March. (More details about this exciting event to come soon).

Many thanks to Sigrid Nielsen for contributing today’s article. Sigrid, together with Bob Orr, set up Lavender Menace, Scotland’s first lesbian and gay bookshop in Forth Street in 1982 and which would become the West & Wilde bookshop.

Book Week Scotland programme 15 – 21 November 2021

Central Library – Book Café online

Scottish novelist, Jane Alexander reads from her recently published short story collection, The Flicker Against the Light, for our Book Week Scotland BookCafé session.

Ms Alexander is the author of two highly-acclaimed novels; she completed her PhD in 2018 and is currently a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh. Her fascination for and study of the uncanny makes her the perfect guest for the current socio-political climate.

Book your ticket via Eventbrite to join the BookCafe on Wednesday 17 November at 1pm.

Westerhailes Library

  • Zine-making session for young people on Wednesday 17 November at 5.30pm
  • Book Cafe on Thursday 18 November, from 10.30am to 12.30pm
    Drop in for a tea or coffee and chat about books with our friendly team!
    Get specially tailored reading recommendations; sign up for our ‘Personal Shopper’ service; get help with accessing online resources, including free access to online ebooks, audiobooks, newspapers and magazines.

South Queensferry Library

  • Poetry discussion group, Monday 15 November, at 7pm
    South Queensferry Library’s very first session of their Poetry discussion group will take place, kicking off with a discussion about the attendees’ favourite Scottish poet/poem.
  • Scottish Book Nook, Wednesday 17 November, at 7pm
    They’ve asking library users to come along and tell us about a favourite book they think is a Scottish hidden gem.
  • Storytime, Friday 19 November, 10.30 – 11am
    Children’s storytime featuring some fantastic Scottish stories

Online event

Join Edinburgh Libraries and Lavender Menace for an exceptional hour with inspiring writers, poets and panellists on Thursday 18 November at 6.30pm.

By film, especially for Book Week Scotland, Bob Cant, editor of the first published queer oral history in Scotland (1993 and 2008) talks about his background as a Scottish gay man, his life as a gay writer, trade unionist and activist, and his experience organising his book. He comments on directions queer oral history might take today. His film also includes clips of four interviewees on their views of the book.

The film will be followed by a panel discussion hosted by Sigrid and Bob of Lavender Menace with esteemed guests: Ann Marriott – General Manager, LGBT Youth Scotland; Jaime Valentine – oral historian, OurStory Scotland and Rowan Rush-Morgan – archivist, oral historian and PhD student.

Book your free ticket via Eventbrite to join this fantastic online event.

Once and future LGBT history: celebrating life stories with Bob Cant’s ‘Footsteps and Witnesses’

In 1957, in the Meffan Institute Library in Forfar, 12-year-old Bob Cant learned a new word.

He enjoyed reading and learning, but he had probably never expected to read anything like this. There in the Dundee Courier was a story about the Wolfenden Report on homosexual law reform, as it was called in those days. He had never seen the word homosexual before.

Wolfenden Report of the Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution

In 1957, sex between men was a crime. Oscar Wilde and Alan Turing were among thousands who had suffered severe penalties under the law. Many others escaped prison, but lost their jobs or were publicly disgraced.

The government was discussing changes which, years later, led to decriminalisation – for some. Bob Cant didn’t know any of this history, but he sensed the word had something to do with feelings of his own which he had not been able to name before.

He also knew that he could not mention what he had read to anyone.                                      

Today, he says he’s glad he made his discovery in a library – a place where he could read uninterrupted and unobserved. ‘[The story] contains a message about the power of public libraries,’ he says – which ‘circulate ideas which might not otherwise have seen the light of day.’ And the chance discovery of the headline during his school lunch break helped lead him to a life as a gay writer and trade unionist, who fought to secure the right for LGBT people to live open lives at work.

Bob Cant became fascinated with other LGBT people’s stories. How had they survived? How did they ‘make sense’ of lives and feelings which were supposed to be kept dark? He began to collect stories – at first, from friends and co-workers. 35 years after he read the headline in the Forfar library, he published Footsteps and Witnesses: Lesbian and Gay Lifestories from Scotland, based on 22 interviews from all over the country.

Footsteps & Witnesses book cover, edited by Bob Cant

‘Lesbians and gay men are, for the most part, invisible in Scotland,’ he wrote in the 1993 preface. ‘…This book is part of a process which began in the late 1960s, to end that invisibility. …This book, by bringing together diverse life stories, is a kind of coming out.’

The title came from a poem by Glasgow writer Edwin Morgan, who told his story in the book’s first interview. Iona McGregor, an Edinburgh young people’s writer and teacher, also told her story – closeted at her school, she spent evenings helping the Scottish Minorities Group organise Glasgow discos. ‘There are nurses, poets, youth workers and teachers,’ Bob Cant wrote of the other interviewees. ‘There is a bowling alley manager, a farmer and a taxi driver’. There were four unemployed people, Catholics and Protestants, incomers and native-born Scots, people from rural areas as well as Scotland’s cities. Several were unable to use their own names.

It was not always easy to find interviewees, and only one review of the book, by Sarah Nelson of The Scotsman, was ever published. But Polygon put the book into print and it was launched in Edinburgh by West & Wilde, successor to Scotland’s first lesbian and gay community bookshop, Lavender Menace. The launch took place at the Linden Hotel, a well-known gay venue in the New Town.

Bob Orr, co-owner of West & Wilde, still has a copy of Footsteps signed by Bob Cant and of some of the interviewees on the night. When Bob Orr and Sigrid Nielsen came together to collect and preserve LGBT books for Lavender Menace Queer Books Archive two years ago, they thought of Bob Cant’s anthology and decided to approach him for a film interview during Book Week Scotland – part of their Conversations with Writers series. Working with Edinburgh Libraries, they asked him to tell the story of the book’s creation, made short film clips of some of the interviewees today, and searched out illustrations of places, books and people in the story.

Conversations with Writers: Bob Cant

In the film interview, Bob Cant talks about Footsteps and Witnesses and the moments in his life which led up its creation. ‘This book hopes to let the world know that [our] communities have histories,’ he wrote in the 1993 introduction. ‘This book is only a beginning.’

And it was. 15 years later, the book took on a new life: by 2008 it had gone out of print, but customers at Word Power Bookshop in Edinburgh were still asking for it so often that the bookshop offered to publish a new version. There were 11 new interviews along with 11 of the original ones. At the end was a section called ‘Next Steps’ which included books and films about LGBT people and history – including new projects such as OurStory Scotland, which records LGBT people’s oral history, and LGBT History Month, dedicated to celebrating the past with a look toward the future.

Edinburgh Libraries and Lavender Menace Queer Books Archive will be presenting the film, followed by a panel discussion about the future of queer oral history in Scotland. At the end of his interview, Bob talks about his ideas of the future of telling our stories in a world where openness is more possible, but challenges and silencing are still with us. The panel, Jaime Valentine of OurStory Scotland, Ann Marriott of LGBT Youth Scotland, and Rowan Rush-Morgan, an archivist now conducting oral history interviews, will continue the conversation with each other, and the online audience.

You can see Bob Cant’s interview and the panel discussion online at 6.30pm on Thursday 18 November – please register through Eventbrite for this free event.

Like Footsteps and Witnesses, libraries and archives aren’t only records, they are beginnings.

Macmillan Digital Storytelling Programme

Our colleagues from Macmillan Cancer Support are running workshops to support people affected by cancer to tell their stories in their own words. They’re working with Scottish Book Trust to create digital stories in the form of videos.

“It was really helpful to hear others’ stories. Initially they provided a guide but also the messages made me realise that everyone has a story worth listening to (including me!)” –

Mhairi, Digital storyteller

Telling your story can help you connect with people, help others feel less alone, and even help improve cancer services. It can also be therapeutic and help you to work through your experience.

“The whole experience was amazing. I loved every minute and it really made me think about what matters to me.”

Moira, Digital storyteller

Who can take part?

You can sign up if you have been diagnosed with cancer or if you know someone who has.

Who runs the workshops?

The workshops are co-hosted by Morag MacLean from Macmillan Cancer Support and Chris Leslie from Scottish Book Trust.
Their next session is on Tuesday 16 November. At this event, they will watch and celebrate the stories created through the programme. There will also be a chance to hear from fantastic speakers and workshops for people interested in taking part.

You can find more information and sign up on the Scottish Book Trust website.

Exhibitions resume in the Art and Design library

The Art and Design Library is very excited to announce that our programme of exhibitions resumes this month. 

The Cool Sax Man by Mhairi Chambers

Edinburgh Photographic Society are displaying their annual exhibition throughout November. A regular exhibitor, the Society was established in 1861, and has close to 200 members.  Their exhibition features an array of different styles and photographic techniques, including intentional camera movement and polaroid transfer. The exhibition includes examples from the spectrum of photographic genres including portraiture, nature, landscape and street photography. The exhibition runs for four weeks from 1st to 27th November 2021.

Ptarmigan In Deep Snow by David Wolfender

The Art and Design Library hosts 12 exhibitions a year and we encourage artists who are interested in exhibiting to contact us for more information: