Calling concert programmes!

The Music Library has an enviable collection of programmes and ephemera from music festivals, competitions and concerts, providing a snapshot of Edinburgh’s rich concert going and music making, from the early 1800s to the very recent past. Many of our concert programmes are available to view on Capital Collections.

Sir Harry Lauder headlines the Grand Scottish Concert on 23 February 1940.

We collect programmes, handbills and flyers to record as much of Edinburgh’s rich musical life as we can. We are unable to collect our programmes digitally, so we ask you, each time your group performs during the year, to deposit a programme and some handbills with the Music Library for our collection.

Concert programmes can provide a rich source of historical information on musical taste and the wealth of musical participation by both professional and amateur groups. Contribute to our archive and 50 years from now your programmes could be a valuable resource for researchers!

A 2001 programme for the Royal Scottish National Orchestra

If you are involved in more than one choir or orchestra, please pass on the word that we wish to find a home for their programmes, and, because we have gaps in our collection, we would love to be offered back copies of your groups’ programmes. Or, if you have a growing archive, which is perhaps growing too large for your premises, we would happily consider housing it within our collection.

For more information on donating material, email, phone 0131 242 8050 or drop into the Music Library.


Wester Hailes Library presents: A kind of seeing

Wester Hailes Library is holding a unique archive film and photography event on Wednesday 22 February, 6 – 7.30pm, focusing on the history of the local community.

Children playing, Wester Hailes Drive

The main event will be a specially curated archive film screening, which will be shown on the library’s new cinema-size screen, complete with surround-sound! Films included in the programme will explore themes of community, through both films about the local area and Scotland as a whole, including…

WEALTH OF A NATION (1978, 17 min) – Made as part of a group of 7 documentaries for the 1938 Empire Exhibition, under the supervision of John Grierson. The film compares the old and new industries in Scotland, from shipyards to local farms.


EDINBURGH SAYS FAREWELL TO ITS TRAMS (1956, 5 min) – A series of shots over the last couple of days before the original Edinburgh tram service closed.

HUTS – A FILM FROM WESTER HAILES (1985, 20 min extract) – A film following the efforts of local Wester Hailes residents working together to improve life locally through the building and development of ‘The Huts’ as community facilities.

The screenings will be followed by a short discussion about the films, and the history of the local area. Everyone’s welcome to join in the discussion, and stay to enjoy some refreshments (tea, coffee & biscuits).

Alongside the film screening, there will be a photo exhibition of images taken around the local community. The exhibition will consist of both printed photographs and laptops connected to online archives, such as Capital Collections and Edinburgh Collected. While most of the printed photographs will come from the library’s own collection, we’d welcome any additions, so if you have any interesting photos of the local area, please get in touch.

The event is free to attend. Limited tickets are available online from Eventbrite.

Tickets are also available direct from Wester Hailes Library: email, phone us on 0131 529 5667, or drop in and speak to a member of staff.

“Wester Hailes library presents: A kind of seeing” is funded by Film Hub Scotland and is part of projects being piloted in Scotland under the Film Education in Libraries Project. The £190,000 initiative was made possible through Creative Scotland as part of their Film Strategy and aims to improve the provision of film and moving image education across the country.  This screening was commissioned by Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC).

Which online newspaper and magazine service should you use?

One of the many benefits of having a library card is getting free access to hundreds of newspapers and magazines through web sites and apps including Zinio, PressReader, International Newsstand and Library PressDisplay.

But which one should you use? Our quick guide will help you decide which suits your needs best.


This is by far the most popular of our services, and if you’re not already using it, why not?

Download the app on your phone or tablet to download as many magazines as you like, with over 100 titles to choose from including New Scientist, Good Housekeeping and BBC Good Food Magazine.

You can download back issues as well as the current copy, and you can keep them as long as you like. No wonder it’s so popular!


Very similar to Zinio, but with a couple of significant differences:

First, there’s much more on offer as PressReader also includes newspapers – you can choose from over UK and Irish titles and hundreds more from around the world. There are also more titles aimed at a younger readership (e.g. Commando, The Beano) and more Scottish content (e.g. Scottish Field, The Scots Magazine).

The other main difference from Zinio is that you can only download these titles for free from a PressReader HotSpot. The good news is that every one of our 26 libraries is a PressReader HotSpot, and you can download up to twenty titles a day!

Library PressDisplay

This site contains all the same content as PressReader, but you don’t have to be in a HotSpot to use it. As long as you’ve got your library card number you can use it anywhere. The only drawback is that you can’t download the titles so have to read them online. Today’s newspapers though are available before they even reach the newsagents.

International Newsstand

Unlike PressReader and PressDisplay, which have an archive going back 3 months for most newspapers, International Newsstand’s goes back around 20 years.

With global coverage and sophisticated search options, including the ability to save and export searches and results, this is by far your best bet if you’re looking to do more serious research.

And if historical research is your thing, don’t forget library members also get free access to The British Newspaper Archive,  The Times Digital Archive and The Scotsman Digital Archive as well!

Hope that’s cleared things up for you!



Beyond Google’ s reach: ten web sites only library members can see

wifi ladyWhether it’s history, literature, art, music, business or science – if you’re serious about learning you’ll know that there are corners of the internet Google can’t reach.That’s where we come in. Your library card gives you free access to dozens of web sites that are otherwise out of reach. Here are ten of the best:

International Newsstand – a sophisticated archive of the world’s press.

Access to Research – Free online access to 1.5 million academic and research journal articles.

Ancestry – you can pay for this if you like, but why bother when you can use it for free at the library?

Cobra – thousands of detailed and up-to-date fact sheets on setting up and running a business or other type of organisation. Invaluable.

Oxford English Dictionary – does so much more than any other dictionary.

Scotsman Digital Archive – Every page of every issue of the paper published between 1817 and 1950.

Oxford Reference Online – With bitesize facts and longer essays taken from over 200 books published by the Oxford University Press, this site is an ideal starting point for anyone who’s serious about learning and research – whether it’s for work, study or personal interest. Written and checked by the experts, world leaders in their chosen fields.

Life in Great Britain – essential for anyone who needs to prepare for the British Citizenship Test.

John Johnson – this archive of printed ephemera gives a unique insight into life in eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth century Britain

Issues Online – for younger library members (ages 14 and above) this resource is brilliant for English, social studies, religious and moral philosophy investigations.

Christmas in Theatreland

Christmas gives theatres the chance to glam up with exotic costumes and colourful sets. For a short period only, we are showcasing these Christmas productions in a series of displays in the Central Library. With the help of the Royal Lyceum and Edinburgh‘s Museums & GalleriesKing’s Theatre collection we highlight the various strands that go into a successful Christmas show. Items from our own theatre archive complete the cast.It's at Central Library!

Showing in Central Library over the festive season – catch it while you can!