In conversation with Nick Coleman and Professor Raymond MacDonald

Edinburgh City Libraries actively seek to raise awareness of diversity and inclusion in the public arena by participating in various Awareness Weeks throughout the year.

We are honoured to highlight Deaf Awareness Week by hosting an ‘in conversation’ with two highly prominent professionals, whose life and work experiences have enabled them to talk so personally, interestingly and eloquently, that by watching this video you feel like you are all in the room together!

Nick Coleman is a qualified psychotherapist after 30 years spent as a writer and editor on broadsheet newspapers (chiefly Independent and Independent on Sunday) after starting out as a music journalist for NME and Time Out. He has written over the years for The Times, Daily Telegraph, Guardian, New Statesman, US Vogue, GQ etcHe is the author of three books: The Train in the Night: A Story of Music and Loss; Pillow Man (a novel); and Voices: How a great singer change your life (all Vintage/Cape).

Professor Raymond MacDonald – ​after completing his PhD in Psychology at the University of Glasgow, investigating therapeutic applications of music, Raymond worked as Artistic Director for a music company, Sounds of Progress, specialising in working with people who have special needs.  He joined the School of Music in 2012 having worked at Glasgow Caledonian University previously. Between 2012 and 2013 he was Director of Postgraduate Studies and was Head of The School of Music between 2013 and 2016.  As well as working as a saxophonist and composer he is also a Chartered Health Psychologist and has published over 70 papers and co-edited five texts.

We’re delighted to host ‘Coming through it together’ – a conversation around music and deafness between Nick Coleman and Professor Raymond MacDonald.

Adult Education Programme for Spring 2021

Edinburgh’s Adult Education Programme has been running for over a 100 years, offering day, evening and weekend courses to over 10,000 students per year. The courses have traditionally run in a variety of venues including community centres, high schools, libraries, outdoor spaces, as well as venues offered by partner organisations, such as museums and historic buildings.

Since Spring 2020, the courses have also been offered online whilst it hasn’t been possible to meet in groups. Adult Education are currently running an online programme and enrolment is underway for Spring term of both outdoor and online courses. 

Courses will start from Monday 10th May 2021 and range from writing, health and wellbeing, walking, local history, art and much more…..

Browse and enrol on the upcoming Adult Education Programme courses online or for more information contact:

You can also follow the Adult Education Programme on social media:

Redefining autism with Edinburgh Libraries

Hope from Central Lending Library writes today’s blog, sharing her personal insight and bringing together responses gathered on Twitter during Autism Awareness Week on how we can correct assumptions around autism.

One thing which always gets me about the word autism is how cold it is, all clinical and science-y blue. No blood pulses through this word, no vitality, no humanity, which is ironic, as to be autistic is to be human in so many ways. 

On April the sixth, Edinburgh Libraries put a call out on Twitter to ask autistic people about perceptions about autism, and how these should be challenged. There is an appetite, now, to understand autistic people, but sadly this appetite comes with many misunderstandings, and well-meaning misconceptions. As an autistic member of staff at Central Library I find the desire to learn about autism among non-autistic people to be good-willed, and to come from a positive place – but like many others who responded on Twitter, I find that well-intentioned misunderstandings are still rife. 

Below we look at some of the responses about the reality of autism, as opposed to the perception. 

Alan Gardner, the autistic gardener, and Mairi Black, pointed out that all autistic people do not feel the same way – there is a huge range of needs, perceptions, interests and vulnerabilities within autistic individuals – as Alan Gardner says, ‘We are not a diagnosis, we are our own strength and needs.’ 

@ClearAutism said it was time we should redefine the autistic spectrum, highlighting Rebecca Burgess’ comic redesign of the Autism Spectrum which sees it as multi-faceted, full of wonder and deeply nuanced, showing the individual skills and needs and vulnerabilities of autistic people as a wonderful symphonic, complex, organic thing, which is so often misunderstood.  

Her cartoon (which struck a chord with me, as an autistic person who can ‘pass’ as neurotypical, until faced with a scary or challenging situation) can be seen on

@Bookishlaloba and @Mairiblack pulled out two of the most frustrating misperceptions about autism, that autistic people lack empathy and humour. This is emphatically untrue – autistic people can be funny, and their experiences of life and the knocks they have experienced can also make us deeply empathic. For me, personally, I may appear lacking in empathy as I don’t pick up on body language which would tell me someone was upset, or angry, however if they tell me verbally, then I am fully capable of understanding and empathising.  

Staff members at Kirkliston Library also spoke to Neurodiversity advocate Jess Rowlings, who spoke about masking, and the effort of appearing non-autistic, of constantly trying to fit in, and how damaging and exhausting this can be for autistic people. When asked what she would tell her younger self she said, 

“I think the first thing I would do is give my younger self a big hug, and tell her that things will be okay, even though it really doesn’t feel that way! I really struggled socially during my school years and wasn’t diagnosed with autism or ADHD until I was an adult, and I wish my younger self knew that there was nothing “wrong” with her. I would also tell her that she will find love and support from people who accept her for everything she is, she just hasn’t met them yet. As awful it was to struggle to fit in, I wish I knew that it wouldn’t be this way forever, and school isn’t representative of the adult world. Your people are out there, you just may not find them in school!’ 

By asking about, and dismantling misconceptions, I think the library has started to build valuable work. Staff are also undertaking training through organisation Dimensions in making libraries a more accessible and friendly place for autistic children, young people and adults, and Edinburgh Libraries have put together a teenage reading list of ebooks and audiobooks, both fiction and non fiction, exploring the experiences of autistic people. You can browse our Autism Awareness Week collection on Overdrive or via the Libby app.

We’re grateful to all those who took the time to respond to our questions and you can see more of those twitter responses below.

We asked:
What assumptions around Autism would you correct?

Emily Kenny, author replied:

Actor, producer, YouTuber and Autistic ambassador, Max J Green replied:

Reply from writer, Elle McNicoll:

And in reply to:
What would you tell your younger self about acceptance?
Elle said:

In conversation with Alan Gardner

Edinburgh City Libraries are privileged to assist in raising awareness for diversity and inclusion in the public arena e.g. Holocaust Memorial Day, LGBTQ+ History, International Women’s Day and in the future, Deafness & music, Mental Health, Dyslexia and more…

However, last week we focussed on Autism during Autism Awareness Week. Our very good friend Alan Gardner, diagnosed as Autistic when he was 55 years old, talks opening and honesty about his experiences and debunks some of the assumptions that surround Autism.

Watch and enjoy Alan’s conversation with Maya Aslam, doctoral researcher at Heriot-Watt University, talking about coping with lockdown, being Autistic and the misconceptions around Autism.

Autism Awareness Week – 29 March – 4 April 2021

Author event with Jane Evans and children’s colouring competition
On Monday 29 March, Newington Library welcomed Edinburgh author, Jane Evans reading an extract from her fantastic children’s book, ‘Vera McLuckie and the Daydream Club’.                                                                                  

Jane Evans lives in Edinburgh with her family, their cat called Pie and new puppy Bonnie. Jane discussed her book Vera McLuckie and the Daydream Club featuring an autistic character and illustrated by the very talented autistic artist, Ruth Mutch. In this recording, we’ll find about the characters and what makes them that bit different, as well as reading one of her favourite chapters.
Watch Jane reading from Vera McLuckie and the Daydream Club on Facebook.

Children’s colouring competition – three lucky winners will receive a signed copy of Vera McLuckie and the Daydream Club, with our first prize winner also getting a book token. To enter, colour in one of our cute penguin pictures. Or if you’re unable to print at home, you can submit your own drawing of a penguin.
The competition is open to Edinburgh residents with an EH postcode. Winners will be selected by Jane Evans and illustrator Ruth Mutch. The deadline for entries is Sunday 18 April 2021 – so get colouring!
Colouring competition pictures and details on Facebook

Staff awareness
Autism Awareness Week is an opportunity to celebrate and raise awareness and education around autism. We are encouraging library staff to raise their own personal awareness of autism and to consider in team meetings how we can apply what we’ve learnt in our library service.

Citywide conversation
Our librarians will be tweeting out to organisations and individuals the following questions:

“Edinburgh Libraries – Autism Acceptance.
Alan Gardner, a true friend of Edinburgh Libraries once said – We do not have Autism, we are Autistic – and this has resonated with us.
What assumptions around Autism would you correct?

What would you tell your younger self about acceptance?”

The twitter responses will be gathered and collated into a blog article released next week.

Alan Gardner in conversation with Maya Aslam, Directorial Researcher, Edinburgh Business School.
Alan and Maya will discuss lockdown, coming out of lockdown and how as an autistic person and friend of Edinburgh Libraries we can help change the assumptions and preconceived ideas for Autistic people in the workplace and in life.
Recorded discussion, date and time of release to be confirmed.

Interview with woman’s footballer, Fiona Brown

To celebrate International Women’s Day, join Fiona Brown (Scottish professional footballer who plays as forward for both FC Rosengård and Scotland’s international team) as she answers questions from Edinburgh’s secondary school pupils.

In the interview, Fiona discusses her career, the challenges she has faced as a player and her experiences of being a professional female footballer. 

Secondary school pupils across the city were given the opportunity by their school librarian to submit questions to ask Fiona via an online form. A small group of school librarians then had the challenge of whittling down to the best questions to put forward to Fiona and this interview is a culmination of their amazing questions and Fiona’s thought-provoking answers. 

Celebrating International Women’s Day

Ahead of International Women’s Day 2021 staff from Central Library highlight inspiring women who have touched their lives. 

Did you know? International Women’s Day is in its 44th year since being recognised by the United Nations in 1977, but it had its infancy in New York as far back as 1909. 

Although International Women’s Day is now a globally recognised event, countries across the world vary in their approach to it. Some nations mark it as an opportunity to celebrate traditional femininity and womanhood, while others use it as a focal day of political protest against issues ranging from reproductive rights, femicide and domestic violence. This year’s campaign theme is #ChooseToChallenge, which highlights the brave and often fatal struggle for equality across the developing world. But it’s also a call to action, aimed at people living in more peaceful countries such as Scotland, to take a stand against discrimination in all its forms.

Staff at Central Library have chosen a selection of creative people from across the world whom they admire and whose work fits the theme of Challenge. As you will see, our chosen writers, artists and adventurers all had to push against the status quo in order to express themselves creatively, and each of them were trailblazers in their own way. We feel they deserve to be championed!  

Please read on…

Douglas from the Music Library says:
Born in the Barnton area of Edinburgh, Thea Musgrave had a Boarding School education away from the city but returned to Edinburgh University to study Medicine, later changing to Music. After a long career in Music and now in her 93rd year, Thea Musgrave is still working and composing. 

In an interview for the BBC in 2018 Thea Musgrave was asked about being a woman composer. She responded by saying,  “Yes, I am a woman, and I am a composer. But rarely at the same time”. Asked in the same interview if she had any advice for young composers, she said “Don’t do it, unless you have to. And if you do, enjoy every minute of it.” 
Listen on Naxos Music Library

Florence Price (1887 – 1953) was a composer, musician, organist, pianist and teacher. In 1932 her 1st Symphony won the Rodman Wanamaker competition and was performed in 1933 by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, making her the first African-American woman to have a work performed by a major symphony orchestra. Unfortunately, Florence Price’s works are still little known and rarely performed or recorded.
Listen on Naxos Music Library

Gregg from Central Lending says: 
Gerda Rohorylle, known as Gerda Taro, was a photojournalist who came to prominence through her coverage of the Spanish Civil War. Her early black and white photographs had a distinctive square format, though in later work she favoured a more rectangular style. Her work is noted for being bold and direct. Lisa Hostetler, of the International Center of Photography in New York, has described the strengths of Taro’s work as “Their graphic simplicity and emotional power”, and her “effective portrayals of individuals at war”. Taro was killed aged 26 while working at the frontline in July 1937. She was later buried in Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. Her tomb was designed by the artist Alberto Giacometti, who gave her the epitaph, “So nobody will forget your unconditional struggle for a better world”. The Art and Design Library has a monograph of her war photography. See the International Center of Photography’s online exhibition of Taro’s work.

Belal from Blackhall Library says:
Zaha Hadid was a leading British-Iraqi architect, artist and designer, and was the first female recipient of the prestigious Pritzker Prize (2004), challenging the largely male architectural establishment. The Complete Zaha Hadid, part of the Art & Design Library’s physical collection, presents the complete monograph of Hadid’s works, from her early, unbuilt projects and ideas from her student years, to her very latest projects around the world, including the Aquatics Centre for the London 2012 Olympic Games, the Guangzhou Opera House in China, and the Eli & Edythe Broad Art Museum in Michigan, USA. The book also features her furniture, product design and exhibitions.
Visit Zaha Hadid Architects website to find out more about her work.

Jeanette from the Art & Design Library says:
Jo-Anne McArthur is a multi-award-winning photographer whose groundbreaking work documents our complicated relationship with animals, in particular those we eat, wear, experiment on and confine in zoos and aquaria. Her books, including ‘We Animals’, call into question the ethics of how we treat the other sentient beings with whom we share this planet. In 2003, she founded We Animals Media, an online resource bringing “visibility to hidden animals worldwide through compelling photography and film”, with an archive of 10,000+ images which anyone can use for free to advocate on behalf of animals.

McArthur was the subject of the 2013 critically acclaimed documentary ‘The Ghosts in Our Machine’ which explored the question of whether non-human animals were property to be owned and used, or sentient beings deserving of rights. Her work is often done undercover and exposes the reality of animals’ lives we were never meant to see, resulting in images ranging from beautiful and haunting to utterly shocking and brutal, yet always urging us not to turn away but to pay attention, take action and make change. Find out more on Jo-Anne McArthur’s website.

Ania from Central Lending says:
I have always been a great fan of an amazing woman, Wanda Rutkiewicz, a Polish mountain climber who successfully climbed K2 without supplemental oxygen. Rutkiewicz also reached the peak of Mount Everest, becoming the third woman to reach the peak, and the first Pole.

Front cover of Edge of the Map

In the 1980s when Rutkiewicz started her ‘adventures’ it was a huge undertaking. It was nothing like commercialised expeditions of today. Also, in her time it was strictly a male bastion. She became widely recognised as a face of the emancipation of women in mountain climbing and went on to advocate for women’s climbing. She published books and produced documentaries on the subject. However, underneath all her great achievements, her life was also filled with many tragic events, loneliness, anxiety, rejection, and depression. Rutkiewicz was last seen alive in October 1994 while climbing Kangchenjunga. Her body has still not been found. Read more about her life via Wikipedia.
There are several ebooks on women climbers available to borrow on Overdrive/Libby app. Read ‘High Infatuation’ by Steph Davis or ‘Edge of the Map’ by Johanna Garton.

David from Morningside Library says:
Nan Shepherd was born in West Cults, near Aberdeen in 1893 and died there in 1981. During her long life she spent hundreds of days and thousands of miles, travelling on foot, exploring the Cairngorm mountain range, which lies between West Cults and Aviemore, in North East Scotland.

Front cover of The Living Mountain

In The Living Mountain, Nan writes poetically and spirituality about the effect that walking into the mountain has on her senses. She writes about the Mountain range as a living whole entity, made up of many component elements. However it is how these essential elements make her feel alive and feel connected to the mountain that shapes Nan’s poetic and evocative writing. She sees the mountain range as something to walk into, and to both lose yourself in and find yourself in, at the same time. Writing in the 1940s about the thoughts, feelings and emotions that a mountain range could heighten within yourself, was very much the opposite of the male dominated mountain literature of the time of reaching and dominating the peaks, which Nan so aptly describes as a trivial diversion. Nan literally was a free spirit who challenged conventional wisdom, and you can feel her spirit set free in this slender masterpiece. 
Borrow The Living Mountain ebook via Overdrive/Libby app.

Doris from Central Lending writes:
As a teenager growing up in a sleepy North of England village during the 1980s, I craved glamour and excitement. To me, Annie Leibovitz and her photographs embodied those qualities. 

I first came across the American photographer when her images of Anjelica Huston and David Bowie were published in the mid 1980s. Her iconic cover of a heavily pregnant Demi Moore for Vanity Fair magazine caused a huge stir in 1991. Although celebrated, Annie Leibovitz’s photography has sometimes been dismissed as superficial and overly commercial.  Whatever your opinion, undeniably, as one of the few female celebrity photographers, Annie Leibovitz is a trailblazer. Tying in with this year’s International Women’s Day theme ‘Choose to Challenge’ , she certainly challenged the norm and brought provocative portraits of celebrities to an eager public. 

Annie Leibovitz cites both Richard Avedon and Henri-Cartier Bresson as influences to her work, in titles such as ‘Women’, which forms part of the Art & Design Library’s physical collection.
See a retrospective of her early work on the Hauser and Wirth gallery website.

Front cover of Flights

Joanna from Art & Design Library chooses:
Olga Tokarczuk, Polish writer, activist, and public intellectual who has been described in Poland as one of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful authors of her generation. In 2018, she won the Man Booker International Prize for her novel ‘Flights’, translated by Jennifer Croft. In 2019, she was awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize of Literature.
Borrow ‘Flights’ as a ebook.

Zoe from Central Lending says:
I have chosen Svetlana Alexievich, who is a historian, journalist and activist from Belarus. She is celebrated for painstakingly gathering ordinary people’s stories and perspectives of war and disaster, such as Chernobyl, and for exposing the propaganda, deceit and the magnitude of suffering behind the official accounts of these events. She was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2015. She has been threatened, persecuted and even arrested a number of times following publication of her books, and was forced into exile for ten years in 2000. She continues to be politically active, lately during the 2020 Belarusian protests. 

Edinburgh Libraries have a number of Alexievich’s paperback titles including ‘The Unwomanly Face of War’. Read more about her life and work on Svetlana Alexievich’s website.

And lastly, I would like to celebrate the work of Nawal El Saadawi, who is a pioneering Egyptian writer and activist. She has bravely challenged Islamic codes and doctrines especially concerning the traditional status and treatment of women and girls, paying particular attention to issues such as child marriage and FGM. She has received death threats, been imprisoned, and has had to flee Egypt to escape persecution. El Saadawi has inspired an entire generation of young activists and feminists across the world  – such as Egyptian writer Mona El Tahawy – and she continues to be an advocate and campaigner for human rights, still speaking out against racism, religious fundamentalism, capitalism and imperialism, at the current age of 89.
El Saadawi’s autobiography is on the shelves at Central Library. Read an interview with her on The Guardian website.

Choose to challenge – Panel discussion event for International Women’s Day

“A challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change.
So let’s all choose to challenge.”

Stockbridge Library will host a Panel Discussion for International Women’s Day on 8 March at 6pm on their Facebook page.

Local author and poet Claire Askew will be in discussion with writers Stella Hervey Birrell, Helen Sedgwick and Theresa Muñoz. They will talking about this year’s International Women’s Day theme ‘Choose to Challenge’.

Portrait of Claire Askew
Claire Askew

Claire Askew’s books include the poetry collection This changes things (Bloodaxe, 2016), the multi-award-winning novel All The Hidden Truths (Hodder, 2018), and the creative writing guide Novelista (John Murray, 2020), among others.  She is a former Jessie Kesson Fellow and was Writer in Residence at the University of Edinburgh from 2017 to 2019.  Her next book is the novel A Matter of Time, forthcoming from Hodder in September 2021.

Portrait of Stella Hervey Birrell

Stella Hervey Birrell is an award-winning novelist poet whose debut poetry pamphlet, Parent. Worshipper. Carrion. sold out in a week. She co-parents one trans and one enby child: neither of which would award her for her efforts. She blogs at #atinylife140, tweets as @atinylife140, posts cat pictures on Instagram as stella_hb and can be found on Facebook as StellaHerveyBirrell.

Portrait of Helen Sedgwick

Helen Sedgwick is the author of The Comet Seekers (Harvill Secker, 2016) and The Growing Season (2017). The first of her Burrowhead Mysteries trilogy, When the Dead Come Calling, was published in 2020, with the second, Where the Missing Gather, due in 2021. She lives in the highlands with her three-year-old daughter and five chickens.

Portrait of Theresa Muñoz
Theresa Muñoz

Theresa Muñoz is a Canadian-born poet living in Edinburgh. She is a Research Associate at the Newcastle Centre for Literary Arts at Newcastle University, where she teaches Creative Writing. She has one collection, Settle and has been nominated/shortlisted for a number of prizes. In 2020 she received a Creative Scotland Award to write one of the first poetry sequences on inter-racial couples, entitled ‘Mixed Feelings’.  

Meet the author – an evening with Monique Roffey

An exclusive Edinburgh Libraries online event, celebrating the power of women and writing on International Women’s Day.

Monique Roffey

Join us to celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day with award-winning author Monique Roffey.

Monique Roffey will be reading from and talking about her Costa Book Award winning novel The Mermaid of Black Conch, published by Peepal Tree Press. The judges called The Mermaid of Black Conch, ‘a story of rare imagination and exciting scale – an adventure and a fable, a glorious myth that tells a far bigger story.’

This will be an unmissable treat to celebrate the power of women and writing!

This event will take place online via Zoom starting at 7.30 pm on Monday 8 March 2021.

For more information about the event and to book your free ticket please go to Eventbrite.

A selection of Monique Roffey titles, including The Mermaid of Black Conch are available to borrow as ebook or eaudiobook and print for Edinburgh Libraries members. 

Edinburgh Libraries are celebrating World Book Day and International Women’s Day – March 2021

March gets off to a busy start with Edinburgh Libraries! Here’s our programme of activities for World Book Day and International Women’s Day. We hope can join us!

World Book Day – 4 March 2021

Battle of the books on the Children and Young People’s Facebook page
A battle like no other… For World Book Day, eight of Edinburgh Libraries’ finest storytellers go head-to-head, Mon 1 March -Thurs 4 March. Watch the reading battles and vote for your favourites to decide the champion!

Our School Libraries
Every day from Monday 1 March – Thursday 4 March, pupils will be invited to take part in a Book-Off of Carnegie Medal Prize nominees. Two previous year’s nominees will be pitched against each other and pupils asked to vote for their favourite. The winning book from each day will move forward to the final on Friday where pupils will be asked to vote for their overall winner. School Librarians will also be offering activities and quizzes for pupils to try during online learning.

Look out on Morningside Library and Newington Library Facebook pages for children’s activities and quizzes during the week.

Ratho Library Chatterbooks reading group is also celebrating World Book Day with a dress-up challenge.

International Women’s Day – 8 March
A challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change.  So, let’s all choose to challenge.

Women in Football
Our School Librarians will be hosting a video Q & A with Fiona Brown, who plays as a forward for FC Rosengård in the Damallsvenskan and the Scotland national team.
Our Librarians and Sports departments have gathered questions from pupils to be put to Fiona in a pre-recorded video.
Look out for this video going live on Monday!

Panel Discussion Event, 8 March at 6pm on Stockbridge Library’s Facebook page
Local author and poet Claire Askew will be in discussion with writers Stella Hervey Birrell, Helen Sedgwick and Theresa Muñoz. They will be talking about this year’s International Women’s Day theme, ‘Choose to challenge’.

Local author Elaine Gunn, 8 March at 7pm
Ratho Library had a lovely chat with author Elaine Gunn about her feminist fairy tales, The Silver Moon Storybook. Watch Elaine talk writing, fairy tales, feminism and more on Ratho Library’s Facebook page.

Meet the Author – An Evening with Monique Roffey, 8 March at 7.30 – 8.30 pm
An exclusive Edinburgh Libraries online event, celebrating the power of women and writing on International Women’s Day.
Monique Roffey is an award-winning Trinidadian-born British writer of novels, essays, a memoir and literary journalism, a Senior Lecturer on the MA/MFA in Creative Writing at The Writing School, Manchester Metropolitan University, and tutor for the Norwich Writers Centre. Her seventh book, The Mermaid of Black Conch won the Costa Book of the Year, 2020. It was also short-listed for the Goldsmiths Prize 2020 and longlisted for the Rathbones/Folio Award.
This is an unmissable treat to celebrate International Women’s Day! 
Book your free ticket now via Eventbrite.

International Women’s Day – Live Quiz at 7.30pm
Join Moredun Library for an interactive quiz on Facebook Live to celebrate International Women’s Day.
Join the Facebook event fun

Women: their communities, Monday 8 March
Sighthill Library talked to four amazing women about their work in the Sighthill community. Read about Pat Lee, Gill Dunn, Linda Newlands, and Marjorie Edmondson on Sighthill Library’s Facebook page on Monday 8th March to help us celebrate International Women’s Day and these amazing women.

Ratho Chatterbooks, Tuesday 9 March at 4pm
Ratho Chatterbooks will be celebrating International Women’s Day by using the Little people, Big dreams series of books available to borrow via Overdrive/Libby app. There are some amazing women in this series and Ratho will be asking the group to take some time to interview then write a profile about an amazing woman in their life.

Welcome to our new online craft group!

Bee on flower

Central Library warmly welcomes to you join them for a new online craft group for adults. Informal, friendly and open to all levels of ability, we hope to facilitate a virtual gathering of creative folks and like minds, where lovely things are made, skills are shared and talents showcased. 

Creativity has been helping many of us through lockdown, with craft reported as being the UK’s fastest growing industry. Hobbycraft reported an online sales surge of 200%, whilst shows such as Grayson’s Art Club have inspired others, reflected in a huge rise in sales of online art supplies. A similar spike in sales of seeds and compost has been reported at garden centres across the country as people have been discovering the benefits of getting their hands in the soil and growing things, whether in pots or gardens. 

The power of using our hands to make things can imbue us with a sense of achievement, encouraging creative expression and promoting wellbeing. Studies have shown that creative work is most beneficial when it involves face to face interactions, which is where our online craft group comes in. By bringing people together to swap ideas and keep in touch, we hope to create a community of makers, sparking inspiration and easing some of the isolation that has been unavoidable for many of us during lockdown. Current COVID restrictions limit our interactions to online meet ups, but as those restrictions ease we hope to transfer our sessions to Central Library where we can meet in-person. 

Collection of colourful textiles

Our aim is that this group should be as all-encompassing as possible by including a wide and varied range of skills. So, do you knit, crochet, or make macrame bags or tufted rugs? Perhaps you use natural dyes, mix your own soaps or devise your own eco-recipes for household cleaners? Or are you happiest outdoors whittling wood or planting wildflower beds for bees? 

Selection of objects including towels, citrus fruit, essential oils and wooden pegs

Regardless of whether your passion is for piecing together intricate quilts, or for darning old socks in rainbow colours, if you use your hands to create something and this makes your heart sing, then you are perfect for this group. And did we mention that you don’t have to be good at it? Your enthusiasm for making is all that’s needed, and if you’d like to learn more about a particular craft or skill, let us know and we’ll do our best to bring it to you. 

If this all sounds like your idea of a most wonderful night in, then please get in touch! Tell us a bit about yourself, your ideas for the group, the most convenient meeting time, preferred platform or anything else you’d like to contribute by filling out our survey online.

Or you can contact us by email at:

We look forward to hearing from you! 

Edinburgh Libraries are marking LGBT History Month

We’re marking LGBT History Month with a series of activities and events.

Wednesday 17 February at 1pm – BookCafe online
Central Library’s women-only reading group is marking LGBT History Month by celebrating some incredible queer writing.
Sign up via Eventbrite and join them for an hour together online, away from Lockdown limitations.

Wednesday 17 February at 2pm – Drag Queen, King and Super Queen Storytime
As part of our celebration of LGBT+ History Month, join with us for a special edition of Drag Queen story hour featuring Drag Queen Ada HD – Super Clare Deloon and Drag King cyro.
The session will last 30 mins and can be found on the day on the Children and Young People’s Facebook page.

Thursday 18 February – Unsung: Queer books that tell our story
Bob Orr and Sigrid Nielsen, the founders of Lavender Menace Book Shop, release a pre-recorded talk about their recently set up Lavender Menace Queer Books Archive. As part of this year’s LGBT History Month, they will highlight some of the titles from the archive by authors who remain ‘Unsung’ to today’s readership.
Watch the short film, Unsung: The queer books that tell our story.

Wednesday 24 February at 6.30pm – Live Q&A with Lavender Menace
The Lavender Menace recording will be perfect and required viewing ahead of a live Q&A session with Bob and Sigrid on 24 February at 6.30pm.
Register online for a free ticket to join the Q&A with Bob and Sigrid.

Bob and Sigrid set up Scotland’s first Queer LGBT Bookshop in Edinburgh. Lavender Menace opened in August 1982 and returned as a pop-up bookshop in 2019 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall. They have since built up an exceptional archive of books, magazines and ephemera and Edinburgh Libraries are also working closely with Lavender Menace to see how they can assist in keeping this legacy alive.

Monday 22 February – Unsung Heroes – students takeover the Libraries’ Tales of One City twitter!
Young people from across Edinburgh’s schools will takeover Edinburgh Libraries’ @TalesOfOneCity twitter account for one day to tell us about their Unsung LGBT+ Heroes from fiction.

Look out for more activity across our social media platforms too!
Our Children and Young People’s team have partnered with Escape, Connect, Relate, our Bibliotherapy project that runs in all High Schools to support positive mental health, and will be highlighting a new LGBTQ+ book list throughout the month.

Community libraries will be featuring important LGBTQ+ historical figures on their social media.

And we have a great selection of LGBTQ+ fiction and non-fiction ebooks and audiobooks for you to discover and enjoy on Overdrive/Libby app.

Be the light in the darkness

Join Edinburgh Libraries’ staff and library members for an evening of reading, listening, and remembering tonight, Wednesday 27 January, to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

We will be reading a selection of short passages from fiction and non-fiction books about the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution and the genocides that followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur.

Library staff have each chosen a poem, or a short passage from a book that has helped us learn and understand about the experiences of people who survived the Holocaust and genocide.

All the works from which we will be reading this evening are available through Edinburgh Libraries, either in print or as an ebook or audiobook.  

See Holocaust Memorial Day Trust website for suggested titles or browse our online collection of downloadable ebooks and audiobooks.

At the end of the ceremony, there will be an opportunity for everyone to light a candle and take part in a minute’s silence, so please have a candle ready if you would like to participate.

This event will take place online via Zoom starting at 7pm.
Book your free ticket via Eventbrite.

Reading suggestions for commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day

We’ve created a reading list of fiction and non-fiction titles for commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day on Wednesday 27 January and to learn more about the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution and the genocides that followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

Books can be useful for finding out more about and discussing the impact of genocide. If you choose a fictional book, we recommend you bear in mind that the story may not provide a factually correct account of the genocide it explores.

You can find and download all of these books on Overdrive/Libby app, our ebook service.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
A nine year old girl in WW2 Germany steals books to defy the Nazi regime while her foster family hides a Jew in their basement.
Borrow the ebook

Children of the River by Linda Crew
A young Cambodian refugee in America struggles with her grief for her lost family, and her cultural identity, as she enters a relationship with an American boy.
Borrow the ebook

In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner
Cambodian seven year old Raami’s world is shattered when the Khmer Rogue takes over. Amid forced labour, death and starvation she clings to her father’s legends and poems to survive. 
Borrow the ebook

A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali by Gil Courtemanche
An expatriate journalist starts a love affair with a local waitress in his hotel, in the run up to and during the Rwandan genocide.
Borrow the ebook

Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin
Set in modern day Rwanda, Angel’s cake business draws people from all walks of life to share their stories.
Borrow the ebook

The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway
The story of three people trying to survive the siege of Sarajevo in the 1990s, while a cellist plays in their midst.
Borrow the ebook

Poor mercy by Jonathan Falla
A tale of forbidden love – Mogga and Leila, from the black and Arab communities, build their relationship as violence in the Darfur region mounts.
Borrow the ebook 

What is the What by Dave Eggers
A novel exploring a boy’s dangerous journey to safety with thousands of others after his village in Darfur is attacked.
This title is available to borrow as both an ebook and an audiobook.

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank 
Beginning on her thirteenth birthday, Anne’s diary traces her experiences of persecution and hiding from the Nazis in World War 2. 
This title is available as both an ebook and an audiobook.

Night by Elie Wiesel 
An account of the author and his father’s experiences in Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps during World War 2. 
This title is available to borrow as both an ebook and an audiobook.

When Broken Glass Floats: Growing Up Under the Khmer Rouge by Chanrithy Him
Chanrithy Him tells of the struggle she and her family faced to survive in Cambodia between 1975-1979 under the Khmer Rouge, which left only five of her immediate family members alive. 
Borrow the ebook

From Red Earth: A Rwandan Story of Healing and Forgiveness by Denise Uwimana
Account of how Denise survived the genocide while giving birth to her son, then decided to devote the rest of her life to work for reconciliation and healing.
Borrow the ebook 

Left to Tell by Immaculée Ilibagiza
The only one of her entire family to survive, Immaculée recounts the 91 days she spent in hiding in Rwanda.
This title is available to borrow as both an ebook and an audiobook.

Surviving the Bosnian Genocide: The Women of Srebrenica Speak by Selma Leydesdorff
Leydesdorff brings together the testimonies of 60 women who survived the genocide in Bosnia.
Borrow the ebook

The Translator: A Tribesman’s Memoir of Darfur by Daoud Hari
Daoud recounts his childhood, surviving the attack that destroyed his village in Darfur, and how he risked his life to guide reporters and aid agencies afterwards.
This title is available to borrow as both an ebook and an audiobook

Marking Holocaust Memorial Day with Edinburgh Libraries

Join us this month to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

Lighting up the Darkness
Edinburgh Libraries have adapted the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust’s photography project to allow us to grow our Edinburgh Collected online community archive. We hope to gather some extraordinary memories and photographs which will be able to share for many years to come.
Find out how you can contribute to the Light up the Darkness photography project on Edinburgh Collected.

Wednesday 27 January at 11am – Bosnia and beyond
HMD 2021 – Bosnia and beyond: in conversation with Denis Rutovitz and Jeanne Bell, co-founders of Edinburgh Direct Aid

Carol Marr, Library Development Leader will host a pre-recorded event on Stockbridge Library’s Facebook page discussing EDA’s work as a grass roots charity based in Edinburgh. This includes work in Bosnia, Denis and Jeanne’s own personal involvement, the role and commitment of volunteers and about EDA’s work today in Lebanon working with Syrian Refugees.

Wednesday 27 January at 7pm – Reading Ceremony
Join Edinburgh Libraries’ staff and readers for an evening of reading and remembering.

We will be reading short passages from a number of fiction and non-fiction books about the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution and the genocides that followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

At the end of the ceremony, there will be an opportunity for everyone to light a candle and take part in a minute’s silence.
Book your free place for this Reading Ceremony via Eventbrite.

Wednesday 27 January at 7pm, Holocaust Memorial Day UK Commemorative Event
The UK Commemorative Event acts as a spotlight for all of the Holocaust Memorial Day activities in the UK. The ceremony is be open to everyone and it is hoped that as many people as possible will watch and engage with the event to honour survivors of the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution, and the genocides which followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur and to resolve to learn lessons from the past to create a safer, better future.
You can register to watch the ceremony on 27 January.

Edinburgh’s City Read

51zWsBxwofLThis week is Book Week Scotland and we’d like you to join in by downloading our Edinburgh’s City Read ebook title! Specially picked with our readers in mind, A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone is a tense, shocking and darkly funny thriller set in Edinburgh. Download it through the Libby app or OverDrive website and read for free.

Meet the Skelfs: well-known Edinburgh family, proprietors of a funeral-home business…and private investigators. When patriarch Jim dies, it’s left to his wife Dorothy, daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah to take charge of both businesses, kicking off an unexpected series of events.

Dorothy discovers mysterious payments to another woman, suggesting that Jim wasn’t the husband she thought he was. Hannah’s best friend Mel has vanished from university, and the simple adultery case that Jenny takes on leads to something stranger and far darker than any of them could have imagined. As the women struggle to come to terms with their grief, and the demands of the business threaten to overwhelm them, secrets from the past emerge, which change everything…

Unlimited downloads are available from 16 – 29 November, all you need is library membership so you can login with your library card and PIN. Full instructions for using OverDrive can be found on our Your Library website.

Sara Sheridan – Agatha Christie: from 1950s to the future

News of another fantastic online event this week as part of Book Week Scotland!

Sighthill Library is hosting bestselling writer Sara Sheridan in conversation on Facebook Live. The event will take place on Wednesday 18 November at 7pm on the Sighthill Library Facebook page.

In a talk marking 100 years since the publication of Agatha Christie’s first novel, ‘The Mysterious Affair at Styles’, Sara Sheridan will discuss the celebrated crime author, and how the 1950s relate to modern day.

Dreams We Dream Of Dreaming

As part of Book Week Scotland (16 – 22 November), Edinburgh Libraries are asking people all over the city to submit their poetic verses inspired by Edinburgh born poet Michael Pedersen’s verse on this year’s theme, Future.

Michael is co-founder of the literary events platform and micro publisher/record label Neu! Reekie!, and recently appeared on BBC 6 Music’s ‘morning musing’ for Gemma Cairney (sitting in for Lauren Laverne) detailing his books, writing poetry, Neu! Reekie! and his many collaborations (Michael’s segment starts at 1 hour 8 minutes).

Throughout Book Week Scotland Michael will be joined by some of Scotland’s most talented writers and poets in sharing their takes on this year’s theme. Watch out for responses from well known faces from the cultural scene including: Ian Rankin, Hollie McNish, EA Hanks, Rachel Sermanni and more.

We know that our world has reached a point of drastic change; it will never be the same. Poetry helps us to archive the past, process and heal our present emotions and anticipate and celebrate what is to come. By way of a prompt, Michael writes…

is the distinction between dreams & the dreams we dream of dreaming;
is the memory of a song in toes frisking soil for its stories;
is like rice, best served sticky and shovelled back;
is a restless poem, caught in night’s nib.

We would like you to craft a response in four lines to Michael’s verse, on what the Future means to YOU. Our future has never looked more different and through sharing poetry, we hope to collectively assemble our thoughts and feelings, hopes and aspirations and send them out into the open in words.

Responses may be received in a variety of ways:
You might decide to screenshot a verse on your social media feed, tag and tweet us your verse on Twitter or write your poem on a giant poster, felt-tip letters, and tape it to your window. Whatever you decide, send in your verse and tag us/DM via social media, @TalesOfOneCity on Twitter, @EdinburghCityLibraries on Facebook or email your verse via and we’ll send your words out into the world. When submitting your verse please include the hashtag #DreamsWeDreamOfDreaming

More from the poet – Michael Pederson:
“This poet and this poem call upon you to choose a future. Put your word flag in the moon-sand. Make it majestic or chaotic. Sculpt a utopia or dystopia; a life technology fuelled or natural world zested; make it planet earth or another galaxy altogether; abstract to the max or seriously straight-talking. It’s all to play for. Write or speak it and pick your language: English, Scots, Gaelic, Spanish, Japanese, Polish or Khmer, if it’s your go-to tongue for poetry, go to it. Maybe try some Edwin Morgan style sound poetry, perhaps go all J.R.R Tolkien on us and invent a language of your own. Let’s hear some Liz Lochhead style dialect, some Kate Tempest inspired rhythms. Head off on whatever trajectory your imagination takes you — there’s no wrong or right here, just you and whatever comes out. It can be peaceful or provocative, spiritual or daft, rowdy or ruminative.

I wanted the graphic to contain the line-work as a guide to the relatively small number of words necessary to complete your poem. My poem is around 40 words all in, but the second stanza can be done in far fewer — 20 or 30 words, sure, but maybe even 10 or less. Let’s see? And, hey, feel free to break the structure too, a prompt is not prompting properly if it doesn’t let you mess with it. I summoned my favourite book-cover designer Jon Gray to turn the poem into a visual feast. And I think he’s done a bobbydazzler of a job — lush to lunar levels. Jon’s designed books for the likes of Zadie Smith, Sally Rooney, Stephen King and Salman Rushdie, so having him conjure the graphic for the prompt was a real treat. Stare deep enough and you’ll see the stars beyond. Then get to writing. I can’t wait to see what your mind musters from its ‘deep litter’. Mon yer (future) selves / get sticky with the word goo.”

By posting, uploading, inputting, providing or submitting your poetic verse you are granting the City of Edinburgh Council permission to use your submission in connection with the operation of Book Week Scotland 2020 including, without limitation, the rights to: copy, distribute, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, reproduce, edit, translate and reformat your submission and to publish your name in connection with your submission but not its reproduction.

The UK’s most borrowed ebook author comes to Edinburgh Libraries!

Gillian Galbraith

We were delighted to see the recent news that Edinburgh-based author Gillian Galbraith was the most loaned ebook author in the UK during the recent lockdown period. This was a remarkable achievement as Gillian beat the likes of Lee Child and Michelle Obama to the top spot.

At 7.30pm on Thursday 19 November we will be welcoming Gillian to talk about her writing, libraries and this fantastic achievement in an online event hosted on Zoom.

An evening with Gillian Galbraith
Gillian, who is author of the Alice Rice series, topped the UK library ebook lending charts with her novel, Blood in the Water. This gripping novel is the first instalment of the Alice Rice mystery series, in which smart and capable detective Alice races against time and an implacable killer to solve a series of grisly murders amongst the professional elite of Edinburgh’s well-to-do New Town.

Join Gillian Galbraith during Book Week Scotland for an event celebrating the power of books and libraries during difficult times. She will be discussing her much-loved protagonist Alice Rice as well as her latest book, a departure from the Alice Rice series, The End of the Line. Chaired by fellow crime writer Alex Gray, whose novel A Small Weeping  was the 4th most loaned adult ebook during the pandemic.

An unmissable treat to liven up a cold November evening!

Book your free ticket via the Edinburgh Reads Eventbrite page.

This event will be part of Edinburgh Libraries’ Book Week Scotland programme, in partnership with Birlinn publishers and supported by Scottish Book Trust.  

Celebrating Book Week Scotland: Climate change and the survival of being

We are delighted to announce an evening with Alastair McIntosh, one of Scotland’s leading writers and an honorary professor of the University of Glasgow, on Wednesday 18 November at 7.30pm.

Alastair McIntosh

Alastair McIntosh’s new book Riders on the Storm (Birlinn 2020) has received critical acclaim as a rigorous but engaging outline of the present science of climate change. But the deeper reason why he wrote it is enfolded in the subtitle: “Climate change and the survival of being”. Both the climate crisis and Covid-19, he says, are wake-up calls to our humanity – a call to deepen our psychology and even spirituality, fresh openings of the way in human consciousness. His other books include Soil and Soul (Aurum 2001) and Poacher’s Pilgrimage (Birlinn 2016).

This event will take online via Zoom and at least a third of the time will be given over to audience interaction.

An unmissable treat to liven up a cold November evening!

Book your free ticket on the Edinburgh Reads Eventbrite page.

This event is part of Edinburgh Libraries Book Week Scotland programme, in partnership with Birlinn publishers and supported by Scottish Book Trust.