Maths Week Scotland

Here at Edinburgh Libraries our Children and Young People’s facebook page will be celebrating all things mathematical next week as they help celebrate Maths Week Scotland which runs from the 28th September until the 4th of October.

Join us throughout the week on our facebook page for all our usual activities but with a number or counting theme!

Maths week Scotland have kindly funded our new digital maths ebook collection for children which you can borrow using your Edinburgh Libraries card. Simply install the Libby app on your tablet or smartphone or go to the OverDrive website on your computer and login with your Edinburgh Libraries membership card and PIN.

Maths Week Scotland have a fantastic range of events and activities over on their website  – and you can follow the news on twitter with #Mathsweekscot.

Join in with the Big Library Read

Join millions of others around the world in reading a historical fiction thriller during the Big Library Read, the world’s largest digital book club. From 3-17 August, readers can borrow and read Tim Mason’s “intellectually stimulating and viscerally exciting” ebook or audiobook The Darwin Affair from our OverDrive service. Solve the mystery from home – with your library card and no waiting lists, with the Libby app or by visiting our OverDrive website. You can even discuss the book online.

Historical fiction novel The Darwin Affair takes place in London during June 1860. When an assassination attempt is made on Queen Victoria, and a petty thief is gruesomely murdered moments later, Detective Inspector Charles Field quickly surmises that these crimes are connected to an even more sinister plot. Soon, Field’s investigation exposes a shocking conspiracy in which the publication of Charles Darwin’s controversial On the Origin of Species sets off a string of murders, arson, kidnapping, and the pursuit of a madman named the Chorister. As he edges closer to the Chorister, Field uncovers dark secrets that were meant to remain forever hidden. Tim Mason has created a rousing page-turner that both Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would relish!

The book will be available on the home page of the Libby/OverDrive apps and the OverDrive website from the 3 August and with unlimited downloads is perfect for discussing with your friends and family. If you use #biglibraryread on social media you’ll be entered into a draw to win a Samsung Galaxy Tablet!  Full instructions for using OverDrive can be found on our Your Library website.

Make music with Natasha from the Music Library

With Make Music Day fast approaching, Natasha from the Music Library reflects on how the department is still very much available to music lovers whilst the building remains closed.

I’ve worked in the Music Library for nearly two and a half years now and ever since my first day I’ve continued to discover a whole new world. When you step into the department, you’re greeted by a huge selection of CDs, DVDs, sheet music, and books – not to mention the vast amount of stock in the annexes! I’ve found it’s so very easy to get lost amongst such spoils, so easy to find the piece of music I need to practise for my choir rehearsals, so easy to browse the CDs for something new, so easy to chat to customers and my colleagues and hear what they recommend. Whilst we’re all unable to visit the building, you could be forgiven for thinking that all of those lovely things about the library stop too. That’s certainly not the case: much can be found, enjoyed and shared through the online resources Edinburgh Libraries offer. I already knew of the wonder of using these platforms and now, through lockdown, I’ve come to appreciate them even more.

Listen – Naxos Classical and Jazz catalogues
The Naxos streaming service gives users access to over 150,000 recordings through the Naxos Classical Music Library and almost 20,000 recordings in the Naxos Jazz Library. This means there is easily something for everyone, with new recordings being added constantly to each. The Naxos catalogues are completely free to use, no adverts interrupt playback and tracks can be downloaded to be listened to offline for 30 days.

At work, the Music Library often has music streaming from Naxos, in particular the classical catalogue. Staff either scour the new releases tab and have a listen to something unfamiliar and intriguing, or perhaps a new recording of a famous work. Often, if we’ve been discussing a particular composer or performer, we’ll find examples of their work to play. It’s a real treasure trove. If classical and jazz music are things you struggle to find a way into, there’s plenty that could appeal. For example, I recently found myself down a rabbit hole of Led Zeppelin covers and arrangements, varying from contemporary jazz to chamber music interpretations. There’s also a huge range of film music and a growing section of a genre I am very taken by, video game music. One album I find I come back to time and time again is Symphonic Fantasies, a live album of orchestral arrangements of music from a selection of Square Enix games – some of which are my absolute favourite games to play, with their music often being a huge factor in my enjoyment.

There’s something so pleasing about being able to switch so easily between Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an ExhibitionThe Lego Movie Soundtrack, classical guitar arrangements of The Beatles’ hits, traditional music from across the globe, and back again. In the absence of communal listenings in the Music Library, this variety is most welcome.

Watch –
A newly acquired service currently being piloted is which has a vast collection of concert and performance videos, documentaries and master classes to be enjoyed. As with Naxos, this service costs nothing to use and is free from adverts during playback.

If you’re like me and are unable to partake in the normal music-making you do, watching some of the masterclasses is a really informative way to learn more about your musical practice and it has certainly helped me feel less ‘out of the loop’; even though I’m nowhere near the mantle of opera singer, I’ve found Joyce DiDonato’s master classes illuminating when it comes to technique and performance.

Master Class with Joyce DiDonato at Carnegie Hall, available to watch on

The range of performances available to view is rather impressive and I am hoping will serve as a gateway for me to understand a little more about opera, a genre that I must admit I am less familiar with. Armed with some recommendations from my uncle – whose car is constantly filled with arias, overtures and symphonies – I also turn my focus to the selections from my colleague Douglas, with whom I naturally talk about music most of the time when in the library:

“There is such a lot to recommend from that it is difficult to know where to stop. I have, so far, had time to watch a few operas and dip into the concerts, recitals and documentaries.

The opera productions seem to fall into two categories: as the composer intended them and the just plain weird. There is nothing wrong with either of these categories, though there is at least one production from the first category that should come with a warning about prevailing attitudes to race, gender and ethnicity which makes it uncomfortable to watch.

One production which would fall into my second category is Puccini’s Turandot, performed by Teatro Regio’s: a stunning, stylised, watchable production with sublime singing, notably from In-Sung Sim as Timor, the deposed King. Puccini died leaving this opera unfinished so it was completed by Franco Alfano. This production stops the action approximately where Puccini laid down his pen and, although he had sketched out an ending which Alfano more or less worked to, the Teatro Regio’s ending seems to make more sense of the work.

Puccini’s Turandot, a production by Teatro Regio Torino, available to view on

On my ‘list to watch’ is Wuorinen’s Brokeback Mountain and Wagner’s Der Fliegende Holländer. The list grows by the week as I discover more I would like to sample.”

Read – RBdigital and PressReader
In a time where information is instantly available at our fingertips thanks to the internet, it’s easy to forget the simple pleasures that come from reading publications. Our digital publications platforms, RBdigital and PressReader, have access to hundreds of specialist magazines, including the music-specific BBC MusicMojoQRolling Stone, and Billboard amongst many others. An advantage these apps give over print magazines is that you’re able to change font size, background colour and can enable text to speech, making them much more accessible to some readers.

One thing I have enjoyed about lockdown is the ability to revisit things I had overlooked before or felt I hadn’t the time to do before. This has taken the form of finishing knitting projects I’ve left abandoned, drawings I’ve not had the energy to do. The same can be said for music magazines.

I’ve looked back at my RB Digital profile; January 2019’s copy of Mojo has been downloaded, waiting to be read, the front cover emblazoned with a striking image of one of my favourite artists, Kate Bush. Other names that caught my interest are on the cover: Peter Gabriel; Jimi Hendrix; Christine and the Queens; Kamasi Washington. I’d downloaded the issue so I could read through it at my own leisure but, until recently, it had remained untouched. With slightly more time on my hands than usual, I’ve been able to come back and see what I’d missed. Looking through the Best Albums of 2018 List, seeing which of them I’d already borrowed from the Music Library, including the wonderful second albums Fenfo by Fatoumata Diawara and Chris by the aforementioned Christine and the Queens, the latter of which often finds itself played in the Music Library when Rehana and I are on duty together. Finding more albums that I’ve overlooked and making notes that I should definitely borrow them when I can be in the department once again, filling the void of feedback we get from borrowers; libraries are brilliantly communal places that allow a wealth of shared knowledge and experiences. I also finally read the piece on Kate Bush, dotted with images of her in bold costumes and bright knitted jumpers. I found a BBC Music issue I had downloaded that I have no recollection as to why I chose to keep it. It’ll be quite exciting to remember what made it catch my eye, alongside trying to find recommended recordings on Naxos.

There are aspects to music and library life that cannot fully be replaced during this very odd time of lockdown. It has, however, opened my eyes to parts that I perhaps overlooked a little before. Make Music Day takes place on Sunday 21 June and, in honour of that, I shall spend this week in particular celebrating all of the Music Library’s facets.

If you have queries or need help with any of the online services Natasha recommends, please contact

What is a Death Cafe?

On 16 May 2020, Carol Marr, librarian at Stockbridge Library and Tamsin Grainger, writer and Shiatsu practitioner hosted a Death Cafe. It was initially planned as a live event in the hall at the library, but due to the COVID-19 lockdown situation, it was held online.

We asked Tamsin to explain what a Death Cafe is and how the library fitted in.

Certain places and times of the day or year are more poignant than others when we are managing loss in our lives. Photograph by Tamsin Grainger

“What is a Death Cafe?
A Death Cafe is a place where people can come to talk about death. Group directed discussion is supported by a cafe environment and everyone is there for the same reason. There is an emphasis on listening and sharing, and the focus is that life is finite and we want to talk about that. We all have interests and concerns about bereavement, loss, grief or dying, especially at this time when we are dealing with the Coronavirus.

The Death Cafe movement started in 2011 when Jon Underwood and Sue Barsky Reid held their first in London. Inspired by Swiss-born Bernard Crettaz, it was to open up discussion about death and death-related subjects. Thousands are now held all over the world with today’s list on the Death Cafe website standing at 2262 in the UK alone.

It is important to note that Death Cafes come with very clear guidelines: they are

  • accessible
  • respectful
  • confidential.

There is no set agenda, no objective or theme. It is not a grief support group nor a counselling session. There is no intention by the organisers to lead participants to any conclusions, buy any products or take any course of action. They are not religious, and are always ‘not for profit’ events.

A decade ago, not long after the death of his first wife Yvonne, Crettaz had come up with the idea of cafés mortels, informal gatherings where the sole topic of conversation was every living thing’s inevitable demise.

Sophie Elmhirst, Prospect Magazine

There is a history of Death Cafes in Edinburgh. Held at venues as diverse as Summerhall and the Love Crumbs cafe in West Port; organised by St Columba’s and the Marie Curie hospices; by individuals and through organisations such as the Just Festival (formerly the Festival of Spirituality and Peace) and Death on the Fringe.

The goal of the movement is to enable people to share their fears and hopes in a fashion which does not have to treat death as a taboo – that is, as something that needs to be addressed through euphemisms or abandoned in silence.

Maddie Denton, Reflections of the Self: Death Cafe and the Search for Personal Meaning (An exploration of death in modern society).

Tea and cakes
Without knowing how many would attend, research into former such occasions in Edinburgh lead us to believe that we might expect between 20-30 people who we would invite to sit around circular tables to promote equality of participation and exchange. Tea and cakes are an integral and vital part of a death cafe which aims to provide a convivial atmosphere for the open and honest discussion about death. It is over a cup of tea and a slice of cake that memories may be shared and thoughts exchanged in confidence. It can be easier to trust somebody with a cup of tea in their hand, and across the world sweet cakes are part of the tradition of a funeral tea.

Coliva – Greek food for mourners. This beautiful creation is made for Greek Orthodox mourners to eat after the interment. (More details available on the Walking without a donkey website.)

If we had been able to meet in person, we would have made a display of related books: first-hand accounts of dying, spiritual and practical guides to grief, accounts of death rites and ritual around the world, and so on. The charity, Macmillan Cancer Support has support and information services in some Edinburgh Libraries and so, leaflets and other information would have been made available, together with referrals for support should any attendee need one.

How did it go?
We publicised our Death Cafe via Eventbrite, the libraries website, through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and word of mouth. 15 places were offered for the meet-up which was held on a Zoom, online meeting forum and it was sold out. Ten people attended on the day – men and women of all ages – and although it was predicted that the live event would attract those local to Edinburgh, the ‘virtual’ Death Cafe drew folk from across the UK and Hungary.

We started together with an explanation of the event and its history, and then each of us introduced ourselves. The reasons for coming varied from a general interest in talking about death to specifics of end-of-life care. Some attendees deal with death-related topics in their work or study, and all were personally involved in planning or thinking about their own death. About half of the group had never been to a Death Cafe before.

After this, we divided into two smaller, private groups and everything was fully confidential. Discussion arose naturally. We looked at how tricky the current situation is: not being able to touch each other for consolation, and how hard it is to be unable to travel to visit dying relatives or attend funerals. We discussed what makes for a ‘good death’ and ‘advance decisions’ regarding preferred treatment when near death (ADRT). Some of us addressed the preparation of a Will, living funerals, and elective suicide.

While this latter is an important subject for discussion, a public Death Cafe is not the place for highly emotive, individual sharing on any subject, and the organisers would limit such (behaviour) at future events.

We are pleased to say that the online logistics were smooth, and immediate feedback indicated that those who attended found it refreshing to be able to discuss these topics openly and in a non-judgmental situation.

“I only wish it could have gone on a bit longer – another hour would probably do it. Is there any chance of a follow up session?”

“Saturday was a real success and I hope you do more of the same. Very revealing and thought provoking.”

Talking about death is not something that we all feel we can do with our families and friends, and yet it is something which is so often on our minds. Having a place to go where you can listen quietly or participate in a chat about bereavement, grief, dying, or even what will happen afterwards, is healthy. Hearing that others are concerned about the same things, knowing that you are not the only one who is nervous or fears death can be such a relief and can help manage the sort of worries that can only too easily spiral out of control and bring about mental health issues, such as depression, if they are not faced. Death Cafes are one way to tackle some of these issues in a trusting atmosphere, and the tea and cake are an added bonus!

The Death Café was part of Death Matters Week, Dying To Be Heard, 11-17 May 2020.”

Death leaves a gap in our lives and it takes time to adjust to this. Photograph by Tamsin Grainger

About Tamsin
Like most of us, Tamsin has personally experienced grief and loss with the death of her father from cancer, miscarriages, divorce, leaving home, pets dying and numerous other episodes involving change which were sad and raised questions about mortality. She is the writer of Death and Loss in Shiatsu Practice, works at a local hospice, and teaches workshops in Edinburgh and abroad on the subject.

Further reading

Deaf Awareness Week 4th – 10th May 2020

Deaf Awareness Week 2020 logoEdinburgh Libraries had once again planned a series of events around Deaf Awareness Week. The programme has been cancelled this year but we can look forward to planning for the event in 2021.

There is still a lot of information and help available online that can assist those experiencing hearing loss.

Hearing Link  is a UK-wide charity for people with hearing loss, their families and friends.  They can help you adjust to the practical and emotional challenges that hearing loss can bring – offering shared experiences, practical support and guidance, so you can reconnect with people and face the future with confidence. Whatever your query or concern, whether you have hearing loss yourself or wish to support someone else, you can get in touch.

Edinburgh Hearing Loss Directory is a comprehensive directory from the City of Edinburgh Council, BSL users can contact via contactSCOTLANDBSL, the on-line British Sign Language video relay interpreting service. 

Deaf Action  is a deaf-led charity providing services across Scotland to the estimated 1,012,000 people living with some degree of hearing loss.

C2Hearonline provides information on hearing loss and communication tactics.  There is great advice for friends and family to support people with hearing loss. 

The theme of this year’s Deaf Awareness Week is acquired hearing loss. People with acquired hearing loss face extra challenges when people are speaking from a greater distance or are wearing a mask, since masks make lipreading impossible. Good communication tactics become even more important.

Phone and video calls may be the only way to communicate with people who socially isolate but can be difficult for people with a hearing loss. Ideas for Ears have the ultimate guide on how to maximise communication on the phone or video call.

Ideas for Ears  provides advice on how to communicate well via phone and video call for people with acquired hearing loss.

UK Council on Deafness is the umbrella body for organisations working with deaf people in the UK. Their mission is to assist organisations and the sector as a whole to maximise the positive impact they have for deaf people.






New ways of working with Fiona from the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh

Here at Edinburgh Libraries’ Children and Young People’s services, we are finding new ways to work with our partners during lockdown.

Last year the theme of the children’s Summer Reading Challenge was ‘Space Race’ so some Edinburgh Libraries staff prepared by attending outreach and storytelling training provided by the Royal Observatory, getting us ready to share the story of how 50 years ago Apollo 11 landed on the moon. These sessions were run all over the city, including at the Discover initiative.

This year, things need to be different, so we are working on being able to deliver online sessions to our Chatterbooks and school library groups. Watch this space…

Fiona, who works at the Royal Observatory has shared with us the changes to her working day.

“Hello! My name is Fiona and I am part of the Public Engagement Team at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh. Our small team can usually be found in the Visitor Centre, which is part of the original Victorian buildings on site. My day-to-day job is organising a public programme of events that aim to inspire, engage and involve people in the amazing technology and science that happens at the Observatory.

Before the lockdown, I would start my day with a long walk up the steep road to the top of Blackford Hill. I had always felt so lucky to be able to look out across Edinburgh every morning: ‘best view in the city’ I would tell my friends and family.

The East dome at the Royal Observatory, with a view of Arthur’s Seat in the distance.

After the lockdown, I now start my day with a short walk downstairs to my ‘home office’ in the dining room. Unfortunately, not the ‘best view in the city’ but it does the job! Myself and the team (including Ivor, my new feline assistant) have been working hard to make sure we can still share the wonders of the universe with you all.

Working from home with Ivor the cat

The first events to make the move online are our Astronomy Talks. Although we can’t invite you in person to the Observatory there is room for people to join from all corners of the world. The record so far is someone watching all the way from New Zealand! If you are interested in astronomy and want to find out more, please join us!

Visit our website to register for free upcoming talks. Talks are most suitable for an adult or young adult audience, but everyone is welcome to tune in and there is always time for questions at the end.

For the younger space fans in your family, we are currently putting together fun interactive sessions for uniformed groups and school aged children. We are also working to create some short videos and easy to follow activity ideas to keep you busy at home.

As we look to an uncertain future, we hope that we can find new unique opportunities to work together. If you represent a local community group or school and have an idea of how you would like to work with us then please get in touch via email, we would love to hear from you.”

You can follow Royal Observatory Edinburgh on Twitter to keep up to date @RoyalObs and follow the #STFCScienceAtHome for lots of free STEM activities for the whole family.

With many thanks to Fiona from the Royal Observatory Edinburgh team for sharing an insight into her working from home day.

Libraries on lockdown – keeping connected online

During these strange times while our buildings are closed, our libraries are keeping in touch with their communities online in innovative and inspiring ways.

Here a just a few of the things we’ve spotted. Follow your local library on Facebook to keep in touch with them whilst we’re all staying safe at home.

Moredun Library have moved their usual Bookbug session for babies, young children and parents and carers online! You can tune in every week on Tuesdays at 10.30am to join Susannah with rhymes and singing on their Facebook page.


Muirhouse Library are regularly producing printable activity sheets for children. Visit Muirhouse Library’s Facebook page to see all their beautifully illustrated instructions for getting creative.

Snippy Sticky Foody Folk collage activity from Muirhouse Library

Central Children’s Art Club created a fantastic drawing tutorial showing young artists how to draw Polpo, the Club’s octopus mascot.


And this Thursday evening, 23 April, to celebrate World Book Night, Carol from Stockbridge Library will host a special family-friendly book quiz streamed live on Facebook from her living room!

There will be four rounds of questions and a couple of riddles and short readings thrown in as well. There’ll also be a short interval at 8pm so that everyone can join in with the Clap for our Carers.
Get your virtual team together and tune in from 7.30pm on Thursday!


Quines Exhibition

Launching next Saturday 7 March on the eve of International Women’s Day is the exciting new exhibition `Quines: poems and textiles in tribute to women of Scotland’ on display across Central Library.

Taking inspiration from Gerda Stevenson’s poetry collection Quines: poems in tribute to women of Scotland celebrating and exploring the richly diverse contribution women have made to Scottish history and society, edge textile artists Scotland members have each selected varied poems from the collection, interpreting them in diverse and inspiring personal ways.

Come to the launch afternoon running 2-4pm Saturday 7 March. Book on Edinburgh Reads to hear Gerda Stevenson reading poems from her collection Quines and take a guided tour led by edge members around the exhibition. Enjoy a cuppa and chat to edge members.

The exhibition is on display on the Mezzanine, on the Staircase and in the Art & Design Library running until Monday 30 March.




February’s Exhibition in the Art and Design Library

The February Exhibition in the Art and Design Library is a group show by two Scottish-based women artists: Barbara Mackie and Rowena Comrie.  Colour in Play is a celebration of their vibrant and striking use of colour to convey landscapes and abstract ideas and emotions.  The exhibition opens on February 3rd.

Rainbow Light by Barbara Mackie

Barbara Mackie is based in Midlothian and first studied painting and drawing at Edinburgh College of Art.  She has participated in numerous exhibitions including group and solo shows at the Scottish Arts Club, Riccio Gallery and West Dean College in London.  “There is both abstraction and representation in my work that I refer to more as ‘settings’ than landscapes. There are traces of skies, coastline, valleys, mountains, farmland and fenland for these are memories carried from the various places I have know or seen, part referenced, part imagined. The nature of my work can be bold and yet restrained in both colour and form.”

Subaqua by Rowena Comrie

Rowena Comrie has worked as a professional artist for the past 30 years; in January 2010 she relocated from Aberdeen to Glasgow where she now works from a WASPS studio in Glasgow’s Briggait. She was born in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, and in 1982 completed her BA(Hons) in Fine Art at Reading University where she embraced expressionist colourfield painting with confidence and passion.

She continues to develop this dramatic and emotive painting style saying: “I make these works from a specific aesthetic point, that personally expresses sublime elements of human experiences. Over many years I have refined and developed my technique, a process that continues to challenge and intrigue“.

The exhibition is open throughout February and runs until 28th.

Green Pencil Award 2019

There were smiles all round on 28th November at Central Reference Library when finalists in the Green Pencil Award collected their prizes watched by their families and teachers, at a ceremony hosted by Councillor Donald Wilson, Convener of Culture and Communities.

The environmentally-themed creative writing competition, funded by Edinburgh Libraries, has been running for 11 years and is open to P4-S3 pupils attending City of Edinburgh Council and independent schools across Edinburgh, as well as home-schooled children. This year’s theme was ’Going, Going, Gone-Scottish Wildlife in Danger?’ The competition was launched in August at Blackhall Library by children’s author Vivian French, who led a writing workshop for P6 pupils from Davidson’s Mains Primary.

There was a record number of over 1200 entries, from which 20 finalists and an overall winner were selected by a judging panel whose members came from the Scottish Book Trust, Edinburgh International Book Festival, National Trust for Scotland, Edinburgh Libraries and Schools and Lifelong Learning.

Generous prizes were donated by sponsors, including RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, Jupiter Artland, RSPB, Scottish Book Trust, Edinburgh International Book Festival, Forth Boat Tours, the Woodland Trust, Alien Rock, Scottish Seabird Centre, Camera Obscura, NTS and Scottish Natural Heritage.

This year’s overall winner was Charlotte Schlegel, from Preston St Primary, for her story ’The Different Perceptives.’ Charlotte was presented with the Green Pencil trophy and a medal to keep by Vivian French and last year’s winner, Liam Guyatt.

Green Pencil Award Overall Winner

This year’s overall winner was Charlotte Schlegel, from Preston St Primary School.

The judges commented, ‘What really struck us was the way that Charlotte’s story addressed the topic so well, giving a real sense of her concern for our wildlife. She cleverly managed to tell her story from two different points of view, both human and animal, in her own, very personal way. We were impressed with the originality of the story in depicting both the natural environment of Scotland and Charlotte’s concern for it.’

The 20 winning entries appear in a brochure which goes to all public libraries, sponsors and schools that submitted entries to the competition.

This year’s winners



Green fingers at Oxgangs Library

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

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

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

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

Box of saplings from the Woodland Trust

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

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


December’s art exhibition: Noni Choi

The December exhibition in the Art and Design Library showcases artist, Noni Choi, whose work is a gorgeous celebration of nature, colour and energy.

Noni Choi is a botanical artist and illustrator based in Edinburgh. She is from South Korea and trained in ceramic arts in Seoul. Noni worked as an art teacher in Korea until 2009.

“As a painter and an illustrator, flowers and stars are a rich source of inspiration in my art. My work captures the precision of nature creating meditative studies of the beauty of the natural world I see around me.  To me painting is a return to nature. I hope that my paintings which are created with bright colours, full of happiness and vibrant energy help people to return to innocence.

I love nature and I hope to protect nature with my works someday.”

You can learn more about Noni on her website: and follow her on Instagram: @artistnoni

The exhibition runs from 3rd December until 31st December.

Edinburgh’s City Read

This week is Book Week Scotland and we’d like you to join in by downloading our Edinburgh Reads ebook title! Specially picked with our readers in mind, See Them Run by Marion Todd, is a fantastic new crime novel set in Scotland. Download it through the Libby app or OverDrive website and read for free.

In St Andrews someone is bent on murder – but why? On the night of a wedding, one guest meets a grisly end when he’s killed in a hit-and-run. A card bearing the number ‘5’ has been placed on the victim’s chest. The following night number ‘4’ is also struck down. DI Clare Mackay and her team realise they’re against the clock to find a killer stalking the streets of the picturesque Scottish town and bent on carrying out three more murders.

Unlimited downloads are available from 18 November – 1 December, 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.


October Exhibition – Art and Design Library

The October exhibition in the Art and Design Library is a group show showcasing the work of Edinburgh based artist, Norma Henderson and her father, Forbes Dunn.  Friends, Family and Photography features painting and photographs by the two artists, along with several examples of work by close family friends.

Forbes Dunn (1925-2016) studied Technical Drawing when he left school in 1939 aged 14, going on to a lifelong career as a Technical illustrator & Advisor with the Scottish Gas Board. He was passionate about all aspects of art and was skilled in a range of areas including acrylics, pen & ink and watercolour. He was a member of Musselburgh Art Club for many years and travelled abroad with groups on “Painting Holidays.” He remained an active member of the Art Club until his death in 2016.

Norma Henderson discovered her love for photography early on, thanks to her artist father who gave her a camera when she was 7 years old. She became fascinated with darkroom processes and went on to study photography at Napier University. She made her career with the University of Edinburgh where she worked as a photographic technician for 28 years. She says that, “Art has gone along on a parallel life with my photography – it’s a relaxing hobby.” The exhibition includes examples of her paintings as well as her photography.

The exhibition also includes work by Sue Cavanagh, who has studied art since she was at school with a focus on etching and watercolour, and Mark Douglas, a photographer inspired by his interest in film and television.

“Friends, family and Photography” runs from 3rd to 31st October in the Art and Design Library on George IV Bridge.

Celebrating Libraries in a Digital World for Libraries Week , 7-12 October


There is only a few days to go until the start of this year’s Library Week.

There’s lots going on in Libraries throughout the week with digital drop-ins to help you get started using library online services, digital inspired craft sessions and lots more!  Here is a taster of some of the great events taking place next week.

Wester Hailes Library

Friday 11th October 2019
3.00 – 4.00pm
Stop Motion Animation
Learn the art of stop motion animation. We’ll show you how to create your own animated movies as part of our FUNgineers programme.
( 6 – 10 yrs)

Drumbrae Library
Friday 11th October
2.00 – 4.00pm
Game time taster session using playstation, VR gaming console virtual reality or Minecraft.

Newington Library

Monday 7th October
5.30 – 7.00pm
Game Programming
Ever wanted to know how to make your own computer game? Curious about what computer programming is? Join us for a quick taster session and tinker with some games to see exactly what is going on under the hood.
(Ticketed, 8+)

Wednesday 9th October
3.30 – 4.30pm
Building With Little Bits
Build electronic circuits and crazy devices with Little Bits. A light that automatically comes on in the dark? A musical synth keyboard? A sound activated fan that cools you down when you shout at it? Anything is possible! Just snap the pieces together and create.

Kirkliston Library

Monday 7 October
4.00 – 7.30pm & Friday 11 October 1.00-4.00pm
Come along to the library and experience VR in collaboration with the BBC VR Hub
13yrs+ Booking essential

Moredun Library

Monday 7th October
2.00 – 4.00pm
Digital Bracelets
Learn the basics of coding by making binary bead bracelets.
(ages 8-12 yrs)

Tuesday 8th October
2.00 – 4.00pm
Make your own robot
(5-12 yrs)

Central Library

Saturday 12th October
Digital fun day: introduction to coding

Ratho Library

Tuesday 8th October
Come along and try 3D Printing, 3D Scanning and 3D CAD Design.

Sighthill Library

Friday 11th October
Come along for an introduction to online family history resources including Find my Past.

Stockbridge Library

Friday 11th October
2.30 – 3.30pm
Borrowbox Audiobook Roadshow

These are just some of the events to tempt you into the Library during Libraries Week.  Check out what more is on offer at these Libraries and your local library.

Find out about all our digital services at Your Library.


Join in with our Digital Fun Day – Saturday 12th October

We are finishing off Libraries Week 2019 in style with a Digital Fun Day! On Saturday 12th October you can come along to Central Library’s mezzanine and get help setting up Library2go services on your device or your children can join in with a fantastic range of fun events –

Kids & Teen Events

  • Introduction to Micro:bits with CodeBase Stirling 10.30-11.30am
    Use pocket-sized computers to create simple games (ages 8-15 yrs)
  • Introduction to Coding with CodeBase Stirling 11.30-12.30pm
    Use codecombat to explore coding basics (ages 8-15 yrs)
  • Bee-Bot Robot Fun 1.30-3.30pm (drop-in, no need to book)*
    Program the bees to guide them along paths and mazes (ages 5-10 yrs)
  • Digital Bracelets Craft Event 2-3pm*
    Learn the basics of coding by making binary bead bracelets (ages 7-12 yrs)

* Children under 8 years old must be accompanied by an adult.

Adult Events

  • Library2go Drop-in 11am-1pm and 1.30-3.30pm (drop-in, no need to book)
    Bring your tablet, smart phone or laptop along for help getting set up with the library’s ebook, audiobook, magazine and newspaper services.

All events are free, book your place on Eventbrite –

Contact or – 0131 242 8047 if you have any questions regarding these events.

Macmillan Coffee Mornings – Friday 27th September

Join in with the world’s biggest coffee morning! Tomorrow people across the UK will be hosting coffee mornings at home, work or in the community, collecting donations for drinks and edible treats which are all given to Macmillan Cancer Support. And Edinburgh Libraries is no exception!

Newington Library will be hosting a coffee morning tomorrow from 11am until 1.30pm. There will be lots of homebaking available as well as some savoury items such as pakora and courgette and cheese muffins. They’ll have items available for vegans, vegetarians and lacto-intolerante as well as those with nut allergies!

Leith Library is joining in the fun too from 11-1pm and will have lots of tasy treats available for you to buy. Please pop in to Newington or Leith tomorrow and help support a good cause.

These along with the four other coffee mornings we’ve held this week also help to highlight the Macmillan Cancer Support services that you can access from many of our libraries. Look out for our forthcoming blogpost about this valuable service!

Upcoming author events at Blackhall Library

This autumn Blackhall Library has a series of free author events for your enjoyment.

There’s two chances to join acclaimed local author Ricky Monahan Brown on Wednesday, October 9th at 2:30pm and again on Tuesday15th at 6.30pm. Ricky’s book “Stroke: a 5% chance of survival” describes his journey when the day after losing his job, Ricky suffered a catastrophic stroke aged just 38. Unconscious, he was wheeled into hospital with his girlfriend Beth by his side. The book details the story of their love, his recovery and their return home. 

On Wednesday November 6th at 2:30pm you can hear local author Jane Tulloch talk about  “A Curious Flowering: the hydropathic movement in Scotland”. More than 20 hydros opened in Scotland in the 19th Century, Jane looks at why there were so many of them, who went to them and why they closed down.
All events are free, to book contact Blackhall Library on 0131 529 5595 or

Stop number 79

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

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

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

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

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

Teen Titles party

On Thursday the 22nd of August, the Reference Library was the place to be, as it played host to Edinburgh Libraries’ annual celebration of our Teen Titles magazine.

Started way back in 1993 before some of our current reviewers were even born, Teen Titles is our magazine that is jam packed with honest, unedited, unbiased reviews written by Edinburgh school pupils of the newest young adult, fiction and nonfiction books. Its aim is to promote reading in a fun way that appeals to young people. Published three times a year, glossy editions of Teen Titles are issued free to all City of Edinburgh Council secondary schools and libraries.

Every year during the Edinburgh International Book Festival the pupil reviewers are invited, along with their school librarians to the event at the Central Library to meet with authors (some local, some in town for the festival).

A welcoming speech was given by Head of Libraries Paul McCloskey and then the young reviewers heard from popular local author Linda Strachan who encouraged them to take advantage of the situation and speak to the gathered authors in the relaxed setting. Throw in a badgemaker, a photo booth, some fancy nibbles and a great time was had by all.

Same time next year?

If you would like to find out more about subscribe to Teen Titles magazine see our information page.