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.

Library news round-up

LOADS happening in libraries recently – so let’s have a quick round-up.

First, thanks to all you big-hearted readers who helped us raise lots of money for Comic Relief and Marie Curie. Central Library hosted a Red Nose Day Readathon with staff taking turns to read from the funniest novel ever – as voted by our readers…

Library staff get into the red nose spiritWhile dressing up of a different sort was the order of the day as Newington Library celebrated International Women’s Day with a fashion show featuring women’s national dress from around the world.

model in national dress at Newington LibraryNext, news for Edinburgh and Scottish Collection fans. The good news is that this part of Central Library is getting a makeover, including paintwork and new carpets. We will however have to close for 10-12 weeks while the work gets done (from 2nd April). The rest of central library will remain open during this period.

At Corstorphine Library National Science and Engineering Week was all the reason  needed to examine how acids and alkali work with these Rainbow Jellyfish. We also calculated the speed of light – using chocolate and a microwave. To find out how visit Corstorphine Library’s Facebook page.

rainbow jellyfish

Last but by no means least,  Edinburgh Libraries have been shortlisted for The Bookseller Magazine’s Library of the Year award, a title currently held by… Edinburgh Libraries (you might have seen us mention this before). The winner is announced on 13th May – fingers crossed!


International women of Edinburgh

Today all around the world, people will be recognising and honouring the achievements of women. Our ‘Women of achievement’ story on Our Town Stories celebrates some of the important female figures from Edinburgh’s past and tells how they made their mark on history.
Most of these women of achievement strove to obtain roles in society where they could better the position of other females, by the provision of education, healthcare or the right to vote. Suffragette's scarf from Edinburgh Museums and GalleriesRead a snapshot of each woman’s life and find out how their campaigning and dedication changed the lives of other women.

The Ethel Moir diaries

With International Women’s Day taking place today, we thought we’d let you know about one remarkable woman’s story from our collections. Tucked away on the shelves of the Edinburgh and Scottish Collection are the personal journals and scrapbook of Ethel Moir.

You’ve probably never heard of Ethel, but as a young woman she lived an incredible life working as a nurse to help save the lives of soldiers and victims of World War One. As the war raged across Europe she served as a ward orderly in Dr Elsie Inglis’ Scottish Women’s Hospital in Rumania and Serbia.

Along with her friend and fellow nurse Lilias Grant, Ethel departed from Liverpool on the troopship Hanspiel on August 30th 1916. The Hanspiel also carried thirty Serbian soldiers and six officers returning to the battlefields. Their ship was escorted by a naval destroyer past the coast of Northern Ireland, before heading west into the stormy Atlantic and then north over the Arctic Circle, passing close to Iceland and through the Barents Sea. The Hanspiel finally made land at Bacheridza, about five miles from the seaport town of Archangel in Russia, on September 10th 1916. Ethel and her companions would continue their journey by train. Plans to go to Petrograd were changed because on arrival at Archangel a wire was waiting for Dr Elsie Inglis.  Ethel writes, “Plenty of work awaiting us “down south” we hear, so Dr Inglis wants to hurry on as quickly as possible”.

In her journals which span September 1916 to January 1919, Ethel Moir recounts her daily life through words and photographs. Here we can give just a small insight into her experiences through a handful of the pictures we’ve digitised so far.  The pictures show the first entry in her journal, a map of the route the Hanspiel took, as well as atmospheric photographs Ethel took on her journey and in the nursing unit. There is a group portrait showing Dr. Elsie Inglis surrounded by her nursing unit and a religious ‘Ikon’ card given to Ethel by the governor’s wife in Archangel for good luck and stuck into her diary for safe keeping.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Soon though, we’ll be making the full volumes as well as transcriptions of the diaries accessible to all via Capital Collections.  Look out for further instalments as Ethel’s journey unfolds…

Facebook workshops for women

Make new friends – in person and online – by coming along to one of the Facebook Workshops we’re running as part of International Women’s Day 2010.

Granton Library – Thursday 11 March, 2 – 3pm

Muirhouse Library – Thursday 11 March, 2 – 3pm