Edinburgh Libraries phased re-opening


While we all want to see our libraries up and running again, our top priority is the health of residents and colleagues.

How we safely manage the reopening of any of our services is directed by Scottish Government guidance and Safer Workplace Guidance for Public Libraries. The planning also considers that each library building has its own specific considerations.

In planning the re-opening of Edinburgh’s libraries, we have considered different approaches adopted by our colleagues in many services across Scotland and more widely afield in England, Northern Ireland and Europe.

We are confident that opening our buildings in this phased approach follows the Scottish Government guidelines and maintains health, safety and comfort for our staff and customers.

The first phase of opening will see a selection of library buildings across the city reopening on Tuesday 13 October.

We envisage that, initially at least, services will be limited to browsing and borrowing, returning items, free access to computers, internet and WiFi, support with National Entitlement card online applications, Hey Girls free sanitary provision, hearing aid batteries, printing and photocopying.

As you might expect, numbers within buildings will be limited, social distancing measures will be in place and some services will only be available by booking in advance.

The 6 libraries are Central, Kirkliston, McDonald Road, Fountainbridge, Stockbridge and Newington.

Further information will be advertised in the coming weeks.

We will of course continue to closely monitor developments and government guidance as the situation can change rapidly as you’ll have seen from other areas of Scotland and the UK.

Our Home Delivery service continues to deliver library books to our most vulnerable and housebound customers, and our digital and online services have remained active throughout – you can use your card to access resources.

We appreciate your support and look forward to welcoming you back.

Recording history today for the future

Central Library’s Edinburgh and Scottish Collection have a long history of collecting material relating to the changing life and times of the city.

Today, we also collect digital submissions from people who can upload their own pictures and memories to Edinburgh Collected, our online community archive (www.edinburghcollected.org).

During these strange times of lockdown living we are asking the public to help us record the visual signs of how life in Edinburgh has changed so that these momentous times are preserved for history.

Saturday at the Grassmarket, shared by Sufly9 on edinburghcollected.org

We’re particularly keen to see the little acts of creativity and messages of thanks and positivity that are helping us all to keep smiling.

We’ve received some lovely picture memories so far but we’d like to capture a complete picture of Edinburgh at this time. Do you have any photos of your neighbourhood that you’ve taken whilst out for your daily exercise or going to the supermarket that you could share?

Anyone can create an account and add pictures and memories to Edinburgh Collected. Once added, we’ll add your contributions to the ‘Edinburgh 2020 – coronavirus pandemic’ scrapbook.

Stay home, shared on edinburghcollected.org by jintyg

Our colleagues in Museums and Galleries and in the City Archives are also collecting material related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Museums and Galleries Edinburgh are looking to collect objects for their museum collections which represent experiences of people in Edinburgh during the pandemic. They’re hoping for donations of everyday objects that have helped you get through the lockdown, e.g. certain equipment you’ve used to keep you safe, a note from your neighbour or the rainbow you made for your window.

If you have something to offer, please email anna.macquarrie@edinburgh.gov.uk. Explain what the item is, what it means to you, and include a photo if you can. (Please note, staff won’t be able to physically collect any material until it is safe to do so and venues reopen.)

Edinburgh City Archives are collecting diaries and journals covering this period. They will collect these in various forms; whether that is paper or digital, text or audio-visual, published on a website/social media or kept privately in an app, book, or document.  If you keep any of these and would be willing to donate it to the Archives for posterity please visit their webpage for more information: www.edinburgh.gov.uk/archives/edinburgh-city-archives-1/2

What libraries mean to me with Val McDermid

Crime writer Val McDermid is a perpetual favourite with Edinburgh Library borrowers. Her books, with their atmospheric covers and poetic titles, tell stories of crime, justice and retribution in Scotland. She has also written an updated Jane Austen novel, set during the Edinburgh Festival, Northanger Abbey, and picture book My Granny is a Pirate.

A long term champion of books and libraries, here McDermid tells us what libraries mean to her, and why the written word is what will ultimately carry us through.

Val McDermid, photograph by KT Bruce

What do libraries (including Edinburgh City Libraries) mean to you as a reader, and as a writer? Are the meanings different?
When I go in to the library with my borrower’s card, I feel like Little Jack Horner with his pudding and pie – I stick in my thumb and pull out a plum! There’s always a moment where I encounter something new, and that’s half of the pleasure of reading.

As a writer, libraries have been a huge part of learning my craft. Not just by experiencing the work of other writers and stealing their tricks, but also as a place for research. I started publishing back in the days before Google, when research meant physically searching reference sections, calling up books from the stacks and inter-library loans. And there are still times when only a library will do. Newspaper archives, for example, are a nightmare to search online. The indices of historical biographies lead to all sorts of interesting paths! So I still see them as a valuable resource.

What is your earliest library memory?
When I was a toddler in Kirkcaldy, my mum used to push me across our sprawling council estate to the Templehall Library where she would read me picture books and nursery rhymes.

Are you struggling to cope without a library? What advice would you give to those who love the library and can no longer go in?
I’m frustrated because I’ve got an idea for something new and I need the National Library of Scotland’s archives to help me develop it.

For regular library users, I’d recommend discovering what digital resources your library offers – audio books, ebooks etc. Find an online book group that shares your tastes, or challenge yourself with one that doesn’t!

The hard thing is finding something to compensate for the social life of the library. These days, libraries offer so much more than access to books!

A lot of people are struggling to read books right now. They have time, but they find their attention span shattered by the strange and frightening situation we’re in. What are you reading at the moment? What books would you recommend to those struggling to read?
Even the First Minister, a devotee of fiction, is admitting to finding it a struggle right now. I’m doing a mix of old favourites and the new books that still keep arriving through my letter box. What always works when all else fails are short stories. You’ll find all sorts of treats here. Favourite authors often have collections of short stories, and I return to Ali Smith, Katherine Mansfield, Agatha Christie, Ruth Rendell, Isaac Asimov and PG Wodehouse regularly, among several others. And perhaps the perfect book for right now is James Robertson’s 365 – a story a day for a year, each one exactly 365 words long!

This question is from Bronwen who runs the Art and Design Library, and is connected to the question above. Is it better to read a challenging book or a comforting one at this time?
It’s a matter for personal choice. Read what you fancy, is my motto. And if a book hasn’t grabbed you by page 20, swap it for something that does! I’m enjoying a mix of comfort and challenge right now, and unusually for me, I’ve got a couple of books on the go at once. One of which is always either an old friend or a new book from an author I know I can trust!

Are you able to write at the moment? Would you recommend writing as a way to get through this time? What are some gentle easy writing exercises that people can give themselves at this time?
I am writing – this is the time of year when I always write the current book. But I am making slower progress than usual. It’s harder to concentrate for long periods, I find. At this time of year, I do very few events normally so I can concentrate on writing. But paradoxically, this year I have had more calls on my time than ever before!

Most of us are taking advantage of the daily outside exercise where we can. I find I’m noticing things I’d not picked up on before. A writing exercise I’d suggest is composing a few paragraphs – or a poem, if that’s what you prefer – about something you’ve noticed on your walk, run or bike ride. If you can’t get outdoors, spend some time looking out of the window, paying attention to what or who you see. Writing about something outside yourself offers more resources – and it can also be a useful way of reflecting your thoughts and feelings.


How can we connect, as librarians, borrowers, readers and writers when the library is closed? Can social media be a replacement, or do we need more? How powerful is the written word right now?
Social media is doing a great job of making us feel connected, and of forming new connections. But it’s not a replacement for human company and contact. Screen time is also, strangely, more tiring than face-to-face encounters. However, making the most of what it can do will carry us through this. And when it’s all over, we will appreciate old – and new – friends so much more.

In the meantime, the written word can be our comfort and our companion.


With huge thanks to Val McDermid and to Hope our #stayathome interviewer from Central Lending Library.

What libraries mean to me with Douglas Wright

In our latest Q & A session we talk to Douglas Wright, library adviser in the Music and Art and Design team at Central Library.

Douglas Wright from the Music and Art and Design team.

What do libraries (including Edinburgh City Libraries) mean to you as a music lover, musician and reader?
It is a bit of a cliche to say that a library gives you a world of choice or enables you to chose from the world, but it does. You can choose to be with old friends or make new ones. The old friends are the novels and classics that we all return to, to read or listen to, time and again or the new friends like the Sean O’Boyle’s Concerto for Digeridoo found on Naxos.

We use Naxos streaming service at work and I also use it at home. What I have noticed that I have in common with my colleagues in the Music Department is, when we switch on Naxos I the morning we go to the ‘Recently Added’ page and just choose anything from there. Often they are great treats like the Digeradoo Concerto but sometimes we are forced to think again. Like a Beatles /Bach Mash up which didn’t make it to my playlist.

As a music lover I have been part of a team who have been able to promote live music making in the library. We have also had many author talks by musicians or on musical topics, all of which have been a thrill to be part of. The team’s involvement in Make Music Day 2019 was a highlight, I think, for us all. Make Music Day 2019 was also the first time I had played my Ukulele in public and the first time in a long time I had done anything as a musician.

It was nice to dip my toe.

The biggest thing the library has done for me is introduce me to ebooks and I am a huge convert. For the past five years my wife and I have kept a list of our reading for the year. I have always tried to source all my books from my library but I look first to see if we have a copy of the book I wish to read on Overdrive, our ebook service, so I can have it on my phone and effectively have it with me all the time. I have just made myself aware that I have my music, my ebooks and my audiobooks on my phone so I carry the library or a library with me all the time, I think I need to question my own reliance on my phone, but that’s for another day.

What is your earliest library memory?
I was born and lived in Park Road, Kelvinbridge in Glasgow till I was eighteen. Kelvinbridge which is in between St. George’s Cross, Hillhead and Maryhill. On Saturday mornings, we, my Mum, Dad and brother would walk the short distance to St. George’s Cross in Glasgow where we would shop, pay bills, pay some money to my dad’s tailor account and then go to Woodside Library which was beside Jimmy Logan’s Metropole Theatre. My Mum and Dad would leave us in the children’s section and go and choose their selection for the week. I seem to remember that we had three tickets so we would make our small selection which at that time, for me, were books like Paddington, The Wombles and The Famous Five. From then on, I have a sketchy relationship with libraries.

Drifting in and out of love with them, spending years never going near one and then at other times never being out of them.

My relationship with Central Library really started when I had children and started using the Children’s Library. My children are now 26 and 22 so that was a little while ago. Often, if we were all at the library I would sneak downstairs to the Music Library and then as the children got older, we would all sneak downstairs, to chose our music.

Are you struggling to cope without a library? What advice would you give to those who love the library and can no longer go in?
There are many things I am struggling with and without at the moment. I have to say until asked that question, the Library or a library was not one of them. Now thinking about it, I think it is the thing I have been trying not to think about, I have been for the past few weeks distracting myself with things, tasks and ‘shiny objects’. Trying not to think about that bit of my day that’s missing, my ‘normal’. I have gone down a bit of a road there and to try now and get back to the things, tasks and shiny objects.

I have not been reading as much as I did but I have discovered the joy of audiobooks. I installed the BorrowBox and uLIBRARY apps and have listened to a number of books, which allows me to potter about our flat, as Bing Crosby says, “busy doing nothing working the whole day through, trying to find lots of things not to do”. So the advice would be, always listen to Bing, he will know what to do. I try not to throw advice about, there are people worth listening to, and that’s not me. Seriously, Bing, listen to him.

I am not a great fan of the 21st century, despite my increasing reliance on my phone, and it is not great for me – as a Library adviser who is there to look after and ready our physical collection for our membership to borrow – it is not great for me to say that we have a wonderful set of services online with a lot of those services able to answer to your needs 24 hours a day. We do, and for a lot of people, they have never been more important.

Having said all that, one thing that is said to us, the Music and Art and Design team, most often, is how much people, our membership, enjoy dealing with a person, in the library. That is of no solace at this time and if we are struggling without our library, the only real consolation we can have is that this will end, and hopefully for most of us it will end peacefully and will return to something nearer to a kind of normal.

A lot of people are struggling just now – music has the capacity to soothe by reflecting our emotions but also to challenge – what do you recommend as a music lover to those that are struggling?
One person’s soothing balm is another’s annoyance, So recommending something comes with dangers. My go-to favourites might not be to other people’s liking. I might pick Shostakovich who offers beautiful tunes within edgy, prickly, early 20th century Russian angst, but that is not everybody’s taste. I am also quite stuck with classical music, well, classical music from the romantic era. I once heard John Amis, music critic and broadcaster, talking about music and putting forward the thought that, as one ages music lovers gravitate more to Mozart and leave the youthful romantics in their past. I am about to enter my 59th year and I am still waiting to appreciate Mozart.

The great classical/Romantic composer of my choice would be that lovable cranky, cantankerous, angry, curmudgeon Beethoven. All things I aspire to be – cranky, cantankerous, curmudgeonly and angry – I look forward to all of those traits in my unapologetic dotage.

I have also been pushing myself to other genres, I have tried and enjoyed some of the works of Miles Davis, jazz trumpet legend and I have, strangely, for the past few months, been listening to country music. Recently, I watched a major BBC 4 documentary series on country music and I listened to some of the artists featured in that. That could, of course, be a throwback to my father’s record collection, which included country and western, folk and some dodgy sectarian accordion bands.

On Radio 4, there is a segment of a show called ‘Inheritance Tracks’ in which people describe a piece of music which has been handed down to them and which they hand on to someone they love. I am pleased to say that I have already achieved that with a song by Johnny Cash, the great country and western singer/songwriter, called “A Boy Named SUE” which I got from my father. I played this to my son years ago and he loved it and thought it funny, and it is still on one of his play lists.

Whichever way you inherit your music there are pieces of music which are given to you, which you connect with, somebody or something or an event or a time, place when you were happy, sad, anxious. A song which evokes a memory of a loved one or a beloved thing or in my case I song I sang whilst nappy changing.

Music tinged with emotions which perhaps might be too strong to be dealt with at this time. Can I say the best piece of advice I was ever given was, never listen to advice. Although, that was said about child rearing, but apply it to your music choices. Go to our Naxos website and chose the first CD cover that jumps out at you not because you have heard of the composer or artist but because the CD cover is yellow like the sun or it has your favourite word in the title.

I am reluctant to suggest anything except, try anything, and if you don’t like it, try something else and keep trying till you find the things, book, songs, symphonies, opera which will be your new or old friends.

Are you listening to music just now? What are you listening to? What would you recommend as a way through?
This is now going to be a large cop out, I am listening to music at the moment but I realised I haven’t actually chosen anything. I have been listening to BBC Radio 3 or to Classic FM, so, letting others choose for me and it has been wonderful. I have listened to a programme about building your CD library, one which was focused on the wonderful Symphony of Psalms by Stravinsky, a work I had forgotten I had studied years ago for my Higher Music and I was amazed how much I remembered. I listened to a strange production of an Opera by Cherubini. Lunchtime concerts of string music and operas in the afternoon. At this very moment the Bavarian Radio Chorus are singing Alfred Schnittke’s Three Sacred Hymns, which I would never have chosen but are sublime. Morning request programmes with music from classics to Romantics to American Minimalists.

How can we connect as librarians, borrowers, readers and musicians just now when the library is closed? Can social media be a replacement or do we need more? How can music help to overcome this?
There are parts of this question to which I really don’t know the answer, if there is an answer.

I think, we continue to be a part of the things that are already happening, online groups, concerts, being part of doing things collectively but separately.

Music always unifies in some way and will find a way to be part of the healing we will all go through.

It seems, everything which is happening at the moment requires some kind of social media, it concerns me there are people without access to all that is going on, for whatever reason and their isolation may be even greater. For me, social media is only ever a tool, a little bit of all the things we do. I have been trying and failing, to write something about all the things that social media is and isn’t, all the things it does and the things it doesn’t do. I have ranted and railed, agreed and disagreed. Scrubbed out and started again. All I have come up with is, what it doesn’t do, is let me pick up my granddaughter when she falls over in her back yard, me, like millions of other grandparents in the world, but it does allow us to see her and hear her and sing with her. Until we are all together again, it will have to do.

With many thanks to Douglas for sharing his thoughts on what libraries and music mean to him. 

What libraries mean to me with Helen Martin

In today’s library Q & A session, we ask Music library borrower, Helen Martin what libraries mean to her.

Helen Martin

As librarian and singer with the Edinburgh Royal Choral Union, my job is to source music for every concert.  As soon as I am told what music is required, my first stop is the Music Library at Central Library. I’ve been librarian for three years now, and am becoming more knowledgeable as I progress, but the Music Library staff have been such a great help, a source of information, and very patient with the mistakes that I have made along the way.  I have to ensure that the edition is correct, and sometimes there are other considerations – the Music Library helps out every time.  They have also been a great help on the rare occasions when they have been unable to source something for me, in pointing me in the right direction.

Edinburgh Royal Choral Union practising

What do libraries mean to you as a music lover and reader?
I have always been a supporter of libraries, and love the easy access to books and music that the libraries provide.  I also enjoy the atmosphere in libraries, the bustle and hum of people reading, looking at books, etc.  I do a number of activities that require access to song books, and again, the Music Library has been a great help and source of what I require.

What is your earliest library memory?
As a child and a teenager, it was always wonderful to have a constant source of books at my disposal.  I was an avid reader, and without libraries, this would have been impossible to do, without access to libraries.  There wasn’t extra money in our household to buy books.

Are you struggling to cope without a library?
I am missing access to the library, but happily over the years have built up a reasonable collection of books, so I have enough reading material to keep me going.  It is also a good opportunity to reread some of the classics, or indeed catch up with some that have passed me by.  People are being inventive at this challenging time – there is a book exchange going on in a street near me, with books being put out in the garden for people to take.  I haven’t used it, but I’m sure it is a help to people struggling.

A lot of people are struggling just now – music has the capacity to sooth ….
Are you listening to music just now?
Edinburgh Royal Choral Union (ERCU) has set up a ERCU Facebook page where as well as posting messages, people are putting links to various concerts, YouTube videos, etc.  The Royal Scottish National Orchestra have been streaming concerts on their Friday Night Club, on YouTube, and I greatly enjoyed, amongst other things, Saint-Saens Symphony No.3 Organ, featuring our Chorus Director, Michael Bawtree playing the organ.  I also enjoyed their Brahms German Requiem, which we sang a few years ago.

We have been watching the nightly streamed opera from The Met, which has been fantastic.

There are lots of opportunities to watch different performances online at the moment, which definitely help during these difficult times.  I’m greatly missing my choir, but social media, and these different events are a comfort.

How can we connect when the Library is closed? Can social media be a replacement?
I don’t think social media can be a replacement for the wonderful work done by libraries, although it can be a help.  Perhaps, like the ERCU Facebook page, there can be recommendations and links put out by the Music Library of things they think their readers might enjoy.  But we miss you, and look forward to seeing you again, when things finally get back to normal.

Many thanks again for all that you do.

With huge thanks to Helen for talking to us about what libraries mean to her.

What libraries mean to me with Molly Kent

In today’s library Q & A session, we ask artist, student and library advisor, Molly Kent what libraries mean to her.

Molly is currently in her final year at Edinburgh University studying for her MA Hons Fine Art and Art History. Molly is currently curating her degree show which uses the traditional medium of rug tufting to create an immersive installation space on the topic of doubt. The work draws on contemporary existence regarding social media and living in an internet-driven environment through the visual aesthetics of digital glitch. It also highlights the importance of a time-old craft, evolved and made relevant to the field of contemporary art through various areas of research. Making use of bright and neon colours, unsettling phrases and organic shapes, each piece intends to mirror the feeling of doubt through sensory experience and highlight the commonality of doubt, albeit often brushed under the rug. Rugs, that we’d normally see as domestic objects, begin to morph and climb walls, resembling bacteria and virus structures, as if mutating before us. It plays on the idea that doubt can be perceived as an ailment that overtime shifts and morphs into something new continuing its hold over us.

Rug tufted artwork by Molly Kent

What do libraries (including Edinburgh City Libraries) mean to you as an artist and as a student?
Libraries have often been one of the main starting points of my research when it comes to approaching a new series of artwork. While my current work centres on my personal experiences and emotions, the medium I am currently working with is new to me. Libraries have offered me an otherwise unattainable insight into the process of rug making, with both my university library and Edinburgh City Libraries holding a series of books that weren’t available online. As well as a wonderful holding on contemporary arts more widely, the library gives insight into other practices as well through exhibition catalogues that inspire new methods and presentation.

In particular, Edinburgh City Libraries has a great holding of books that go through the step by steps of rug hooking, including what fabrics, yarns and adhesives to use. Information into the practical side of rug making is somewhat scarce online and the insight gathered from these books has been invaluable to my practice. In addition to this, being able to experience a whole host of artistic expressions from so many areas of visual culture through the rotating monthly exhibitions in the Art and Design Library sparks creativity from often unexpected works – opening up ideas to branch off existing works into new multidisciplinary methods.

Also, I grew up in libraries, so to speak. Often taken after school to access books that we couldn’t at home, and as a safe place to work, libraries have become a haven for me over the years. The ability to immerse myself in so many different topics, enabling my research and artistic practice to reach new avenues is invaluable.

Rug tufted artwork by Molly Kent

What is your earliest library memory?
My earliest memory of libraries would be from back home in Birmingham, at my local library after school. My mom would take me in so I could read to my heart’s content, often getting through a book a day. Talking to the librarians was a highlight and over time I’d be allowed to help out around the library, especially after my mom started to work there.

When I was around 12/13 years old I would be helping to run craft sessions. These sessions helped me find my love for creating and helped others express themselves through art too. I continued to help with the craft sessions when I started working at my hometown library at 17 years old.

Are you struggling to cope without a library? What advice would you give to those who love the library and can no longer go in?
Without a doubt, yes. As I’m coming to the end of my degree, it’s especially difficult not to be able to dip back into all the books I’ve been looking at for the past year or so, or find inspirations in new ones. Books have always been one of my main sources of creative inspiration and the loss of access is difficult. As well, having worked as a library advisor for the past 7 years, and having a good understanding of catalogue systems, it’s easy for me to find books on particular topics and areas quickly. Now, with just the internet and e-services, it’s more time consuming and far more difficult to find relevant information quickly.

I’d advise looking into the eBook services, particularly magazines and periodicals we host online now. Being able to browse art magazines and see what’s going on worldwide in contemporary arts is vital, and especially seeing how galleries and artists are responding to and working within the new confines of a COVID-19 landscape. In addition to this, for myself, Instagram is a great place to look for inspiration and community in these strange times. I’ve been able to connect more widely across the UK, and globally, and as I’ve put more time into sharing my work there. I’ve made new connections that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible.

A lot of people are struggling just now – art has the capacity to soothe by reflecting our emotions but also to challenge – what do you recommend as an artist to those that are struggling?
It’s difficult to pinpoint because we all process things differently. For myself, I am creating more now that I am home and challenging myself to produce something new every day. But for others, trying to navigate this new way of living could be difficult and we shouldn’t feel the need to use this time as one of productivity. If you have the spark to use this time for creativity, my recommendation is to start now. If you’ve ever wanted to draw, paint, sculpt etc. work with what you have currently, be it only a pencil and paper and start making. Or, if you’ve ever wanted to know more about art or any other topics, there’s a whole host of courses being published for free online by some of the biggest institutions online. I’ve been eyeing some courses from Harvard for when I finish my degree next month, as something to keep my brain engaged and continue my learning.

Are you able to practise as an artist just now? What are you working on? What would you recommend as a way through?
I am lucky enough to have a home studio (read: my partner and I have a  home office that is completely overrun with rug-making materials) so I have been able to continue my artistic practice. I was lucky enough to have had my degree show sponsored in part by Paintbox Yarns via Lovecrafts and was sent yarn to work with. So, thankfully, I have plenty of materials to work with. Just before quarantine started I was able to upgrade my rug tufting frame so for the past few weeks I’ve been working on some large scale rugs.

Rug tufted artwork installation by Molly Kent

How can we connect as librarians, borrowers, readers and as creatives just now when the library is closed? Can social media be a replacement or do we need more? How can art help to overcome this?
I don’t think social media can be a total replacement for the physical, in-person communicative experience. Some galleries are creating stunning digital exhibitions, and it’s great that more investment is being made into online engagement with individuals, particularly as this will greatly benefit social groups who were excluded from some mainstream artistic spaces. But currently, it’s a fantastic place for us all to connect. I’ve seen digital book clubs, live-streamed art tutorials, even art tutorials taking place via Zoom. This is all so we can continue learning, sharing and providing one another with feedback to keep our work developing.

Ultimately art can bring everyone together, there’s no need for a high brow understanding of the ins-and-outs of art history. If art makes you feel something or peaks a curiosity you hadn’t otherwise explored, now is a great time to engage with institutions, artist-run spaces, and individual makers within your locality or internationally. Then, when libraries re-open it will be wonderful to bring together a newly engaged community focus into these pre-existing spaces.

Rug tufted artwork installation by Molly Kent

With huge thanks to Molly for talking to us and sharing what libraries mean to her.

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!

 

What libraries mean to me with Claire Askew

In our second library Q & A session, we ask author Claire Askew what libraries mean to her. Claire’s first novel, All the Hidden Truths looks at what would happen if (God forbid) there was a Columbine style college shooting in Edinburgh. Her second novel, What You Pay For explores conflicts between family and duty, love and morality, and doing the right thing, when everything seems wrong. Both feature the same detective, DI Helen Birch.
Look out for the third book in the series, Cover Your Tracks, coming soon in August 2020.

Claire is also an award winning poet, a teacher and a witch. She lives in Edinburgh. She is currently working on her fourth novel and can be found on Twitter as @onenightstanzas 

Claire Askew

What do libraries (including Edinburgh City Libraries) mean to you as a reader, and as a writer? Are the meanings different?
I’ve been a library lover ever since I was a small child, when my mum would take me to the library most days (though she usually corrects me: I took her to the library, she had little choice in the matter!) But Edinburgh City Libraries will always be extra special to me, because I worked for a year as a Scottish Book Trust Reading Champion in 2016/17 and was lucky enough to meet so many fantastic readers, locals, visitors, and library staff.

I worked mostly out of Craigmillar Library, but could sometimes be found in Portobello Library too. I’d always believed libraries were essential to communities, but that year’s placement really opened my eyes to just how vital library services are. In Craigmillar, it’s not an exaggeration to say that the library is at the heart of everything, for everyone aged 0 to 100+. It’s not just a place to access books: it’s Bookbug sessions and weekend breakfasts for kids and game club and knitting group and so much more besides.

What is your earliest library memory?
When I was little, my brother and I convinced my parents to get a puppy. Millie, the black Labrador, was adorable but completely un-trainable, it seemed. My mum borrowed a book from the library called “How to House Train Your Puppy.” I vividly remember having to go back to the library to apologise profusely and pay for a replacement: Millie had peed all over the book!

Are you struggling to cope without a library? What advice would you give to those who love the library and can no longer go in?
I live in Stockbridge, and have been moping forlornly past the closed doors of Stockbridge Library on my daily walks. But I’m lucky: I don’t rely on the library to access the internet or to see friends – I know that some folk will be really, really missing those services! But I’m taking comfort in simple activities like re-reading old favourite books, writing in a journal, and knitting. I think there’s a lot of pressure on people to ‘use this time well,’ and I wish we could all just focus more on getting through this in whatever way feels best to each of us. It’s really hard when you’re missing out on essential parts of your life, but hang in there, be safe, and do what makes you feel happy.

A lot of people are struggling to read books right now. They have time, but they find their attention span shattered by the strange and frightening situation we’re in. What are you reading at the moment? What books would you recommend to those struggling to read?
I’m struggling to read, too, and I’m allowing myself to revert to ‘easier’ reads and ignoring my ‘to read’ pile! I’ve gone back to my favourite teen read, in fact: Soul Music by Terry Pratchett! I’ve read it so many times in the last twenty years that I know it practically off by heart, but it’s an old friend and feels very comforting right now. I know because we’ve all got lots more time it’s tempting to think ‘I ought to finally get round to reading War and Peace, or some other massive tome’ – but it’s probably a better idea to read something escapist and fun that doesn’t feel like a task!

Are you able to write at the moment? Would you recommend writing as a way to get through this time? What are some gentle easy writing exercises that people can give themselves at this time?
I’m writing a little, but only a little. I do have a novel I need to finish (the fourth in the DI Birch series,) but I’m going easy on myself. Even if I only write a sentence or two a day, that’s still progress in the right direction.

I’m taking a lot of comfort from writing a journal, too, though, and particularly from trying to make a daily gratitude list. At the end of every day I write down three things I’m grateful for.

Sometimes they’re big things like being grateful for having had another day of good health; sometimes they’re small things like being grateful I spotted a cute dog out of my window!

I’d really recommend it as an exercise – it helps me remember there are still good things in the world!

How can we connect, as librarians, borrowers, readers and writers when the library is closed? Can social media be a replacement, or do we need more? How powerful is the written word right now?
Other than social media – which is seeing all sorts of exciting things happening at the moment, from Zoom poetry readings to online book clubs – it’s hard to know what else to do!

I have liked hearing what other people are reading, though, and I’ve wondered about the potential for mass read-alongs. There are mass watch-alongs of movies and Netflix shows happening online, where people all watch a movie at the same time and then chat about it afterwards. Could we do a slower version, with books, maybe?

With many thanks to Claire and to Hope our #stayathome interviewer from Central Lending Library.

What Libraries mean to me with Ever Dundas

Edinburgh Libraries does a Question and Answer session with local writer Ever Dundas, author of Goblin (published by Saraband).

Ever Dundas

What do libraries (including Edinburgh Libraries) mean to you as a reader, and as a writer? Are the meanings different?
I don’t earn much as a writer, which is how it is for many writers – we usually have to supplement our income with the full-time freelance hustle, or a full or part-time ‘day’ job, and fit writing around that. Unfortunately, I’m unable to do this as I have ME and fibromyalgia (I did have a part-time job, but had to give it up as I wasn’t coping and it was making me even more ill). Because of this, I can’t always afford to buy new books, so the library is an amazing resource. There’s something so very anti-capitalist about libraries (which is probably why they’re constantly under attack) – all these resources available to us for free.

It’s one of those rare buildings you can enter and know it doesn’t matter how much you earn. I’m able to get books to read for pleasure and books for research for my writing projects and I’m incredibly grateful for it.

As a writer, it’s an absolute joy to see my own book on the shelves in a building that means so much to me, and to know that people who might not earn much are able to access it. Also, I’m not sure if members of the public know about this, but there’s a scheme called Public Lending Right (PLR) where authors can register and they earn a few pence every time someone takes their book out, so you’re still helping authors financially via supporting your local library.

What is your earliest library memory?
The classroom library in my primary school. I remember picking up books by Nicholas Fisk (I was obsessed with space at the time, so I loved the Starstormers series). I also picked up A Box of Nothing by Peter Dickinson, which is still a firm favourite. If I could have skipped all lessons to sit in the corner reading, I would have.

Are you struggling to cope without a library? What advice would you give to those who love the library and can no longer go in?

Central Library

I badly miss the library. It was a real comfort to me. I enjoyed the short walk through the bustling streets (which are now very eerie), and entering that huge, beautiful building always made me happy. I also loved when Hope was on shift – before I got to know her a bit better and learned she’s a writer too, she’d always cheer me with her greetings. The library staff are a big part of what makes the library the welcoming place it is and I really appreciate their skills and expertise.

I’m trying to use the library closure as an opportunity to get through my massive to-read piles at home. For anyone who doesn’t have a massive to-read pile, you can still get ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, and newspapers from the library, so it’s still a great resource. But I know a lot of people will be missing the physical library – it was a real haven.

A lot of people are struggling to read books right now. They have time, but they find their attention span shattered by the strange and frightening situation we’re in. What are you reading at the moment? What books would you recommend to those struggling to read?
I’m currently reading an academic book I got my paws on in the recent Palgrave sale – Gothic Animals: Uncanny Otherness and the Animal With-Out, edited by Ruth Heholt and Melissa Edmundson. It has a chapter by Timothy C Baker that looks at Companion Animals in Contemporary Scottish Women’s Gothic Fiction, focussing on my novel Goblin, Elspeth Barker’s O Caledonia, and Alice Thompson’s The Falconer. I haven’t yet read Thompson’s book, but since reading Barker’s I’m evangelical about it and it’s a real shame it’s out of print – it’s not available as an ebook, but when the libraries reopen I highly recommend getting a hold of it.

Ever’s to-read pile

I’m looking forward to reading the rest of Gothic Animals – especially the chapter on Patricia Highsmith and her snails (apparently she smuggled her pet snails in and out of the country in her bra, and she would take a bag of snails and a lettuce to social events – this makes me love her even more).

I’ve also been reading Planetarium, which is an utterly gorgeous book in the ‘Welcome to the Museum’ series. I’ve been losing myself in it before going to bed and finding it very soothing. It’s funny how feeling insignificant in the context of the solar system can be so comforting.

If you’re struggling to read, short stories might be easier to concentrate on. Or comics/graphic novels (I highly recommend everything by Charles Burns and Emil Ferris’ My Favourite Thing Is Monsters). Or now might be the time to try an audiobook if you’ve never done so before.

Are you able to write at the moment? Would you recommend writing as a way to get through this time? What are some gentle easy writing exercises that people can give themselves at this time?
I’ve been struggling a bit, to be honest, but that’s partly because I’ve been having one fibro & ME flare-up after another this past month. It’s mostly the flu-like exhaustion rather than the chronic pain, and it can be incredibly frustrating as it’s hard to get things done. But I’m doing OK at the moment, and I’m enjoying this interview – it’s giving me some space to reflect.

I had planned to write a diary, but I’ve been a bit scuppered by flare-ups, and I’ve been using the rest of my time to try and get some work-related things done. But I think externalising your feelings in that way can be very therapeutic, so I recommend it if you’re feeling stressed by current events.

How can we connect, as librarians, borrowers, readers and writers when the library is closed? Can social media be a replacement, or do we need more? How powerful is the written word right now?
I think social media and blogs are useful ways of connecting, although I’m aware that some people won’t have computers or online access and that the physical presence of the library offered that to many. I think current events shows how important and necessary internet access is, and that it’s not some out-there socialist utopia to provide it to everyone.

As someone who is disabled, I’ve talked a lot about making the world (and the publishing industry in particular) more accessible, so it’s been both wonderful and bittersweet to see so many things move online, when disabled people have been pushing for this for so long. I hope, when we come out the other side of this, accessibility will be taken more seriously – it’s not niche. It’s a human right. It’s sad that it’s taken something like this for ableds to realise that. Things can’t go back to ‘normal’ after this. The status quo isn’t good enough.

So I do think blogs and social media are important. Many disabled people find it can be a real lifeline for them, and I generally have no time for simplistic anti-social media sentiments – it’s ableist.

I think the written word is incredibly important right now – in terms of political activism, but also for escapism. I don’t think anyone should ever feel guilty for needing some escapism in times like this – if it can help get you through, that’s what matters. The arts saved me many times throughout my life.

With huge thanks to Ever and to Hope our #stayathome interviewer from Central Lending Library.

 

Easter opening times

Libraries opening hours over Easter:
Friday 19 April – closed
Saturday 20 April – open as normal
Sunday 21 April – closed
Monday 22 April – closed
from Tuesday 23 April – open as normal

And don’t forget – you can download ebooks, audiobooks, magazines and newspapers any time from www.edinburgh.gov.uk/library2go

Happy Easter everyone!

Libraries’ Get Online service: continuing our conversation with a learner and volunteer

We introduced you last week to two people who have been involved in the Libraries’ Get Online service. Joyce Young recently completed a series of sessions with volunteer Emily Johnson, learning how to use her iPad. We talked with them about how they had each found the experience.

Joyce, do you think being able to work with the same person 1:1 was important? What kind of things have you learned during the sessions?

It was great to be sitting and working just 1:1. I did try classes years ago when I first had my laptop but, honestly, there must have been fifteen people in the class and you had to make the best of it when the teacher could come to you; really, you were going but not learning an awful lot each time. The thing is too that family often just don’t have the time in their own busy lives to help or are living away so it makes it difficult. However, since I’ve come to the library, every week I came I learned a lot of new things – I can do so many things now I couldn’t before, it’s hard to think of them all –

I use apps like the bus tracker, I look up vouchers for restaurants on the internet and I’ve even recently made holiday arrangements and printed out my own boarding pass for a flight.

It really has been so worthwhile and having your own tutor for the sessions was a big part of it – I felt I got to know Emily over the weeks. I could get Emily to go over things again to make sure I had understood them and was doing things properly. I could make notes and check them with her and she’d give me ‘homework’ too! I know I’ve still got a lot I could learn about and use but I now have so much more confidence that I can do it”. To give you another example I had a plumbing problem in the house – I got onto my iPad and looked up a thing called Trusted Traders that a neighbour had told me about; I found a plumber through that and it’s been fixed. I was really happy with that

and that is all about using the internet and the benefits it can bring. . . .

Well, yes, definitely; I find now I will use the iPad every day. I would say it has made a big difference in so many ways. Now it’s great staying in touch with my son – he travels a lot and he’s sending me photos and updates from where he is, it’s marvellous! One thing leads to another . . . I then learnt how to save photos from an email into the photos app so it’s all organised and I can find them. I tell you I could make a list of so many things like that that I have learned so I’m so glad my son signed me up – best Christmas present ever!

Joyce: “I find now I will use the iPad every day. I would say it has made a big difference in so many ways”.

So you feel being able to use the iPad helps you feel more “in touch” with things around you?

Yes, I think it does. It makes me feel like I’ve caught up with things a wee bit – I’d recommend it especially for older people who are wary of trying the internet. What we need is the kind of help I’ve had at the library and it opens up a whole new world to you

“The thing is there are so many things you can’t do or are getting much more difficult to do without the internet”.

I’m now looking at shopping online for instance. I mean, as I get older, it would be a lot easier, I can’t carry heavy things or even getting them into the car is difficult, so, yes, ordering it through the internet and having it delivered makes sense. I’m sure I’m going to be doing that soon!

Emily: Yes, that’s right, Joyce now has the Amazon app on her iPad and we almost bought something!! We went right through the process so Joyce would be able to start using that or other shopping sites and apps. When we started, I remember Joyce saying to me she felt like she was so far behind with all the new technology that she’d never catch up and it was too big an obstacle to overcome – but she has done it!

The final part of our conversation about Get Online with Joyce and Emily will be here next week

If you are interested in finding out more about Get Online in the libraries or you would like to book a place click/tap here

Libraries’ Get Online service : a conversation with a learner and volunteer

The Libraries’ Get Online service runs groups offering free help and tuition in using new technology and getting the most out of ‘being online’. We provide 1:1 support to people in five weekly sessions. Learners are paired up with one of our volunteers to work on the person’s device (be that laptop, tablet or phone) or indeed to work with anyone who doesn’t yet have a device.

We spoke with a recent learner, Joyce Young, and the volunteer who worked with her, Edinburgh University student, Emily Johnson, about how positive they were about the experience of this service. Here is the first instalment of our conversation. . . .

How did you find yourself coming to Get Online at the library? What did you feel about coming along?

Joyce: “About a month before Christmas my son phoned me to say he was going to get me an iPad for my Christmas and I wasn’t too sure about it at all. However, he also told me that he had signed me up for lessons at Central Library for people needing help with all the new gadgets there are. He arranged this from London actually but, anyway, at first I thought ‘I really don’t know; I don’t know anything about this’. I had had a laptop before but I only used it for one or two things and was really very wary of it. So, when my son suggested the iPad and the lessons I honestly wasn’t sure as I’ve said. As it has turned out I’m very glad I came. I actually had a couple of sessions before Christmas and then we started again towards the end of January. When I think that I came along to the first session the iPad was still in the box (!) . . .  however, I had the same person, Emily, with me each time and she was really good at showing me what to do, very patient and encouraging. Even after just two or three lessons I was thinking ‘you know, I can do this’ and since then I feel I’ve come on in leaps and bounds.

Joyce Young: After just two or three sessions I was thinking ‘you know, I can do this’!

To Emily our volunteer: how have you found being involved in this as a volunteer?

I think my favourite thing from the beginning was the fact it really was great to be involved with Joyce quite literally right from the start. As Joyce said, the iPad was still in the box so there was so much I could look forward to showing Joyce but you didn’t really know what yet, or where it might go. But, I think even the setting up of an iPad – or any other device – is not as straightforward as it might seem; you can’t just switch it on and go.

So even just setting up the device is an issue? 

Emily: Yes, it was good to take Joyce through those steps and past that first hurdle. In fact, that took up pretty much the whole of the first session and I also did step-by step notes for Joyce on how to link her iPad up to her Wi-Fi at home for the first time. That’s not the end of it either, you still have so much ‘setting up’ to do to get the email up and running and getting someone like Joyce to understand about registering for things so she could use say the BBC iPlayer or Spotify or whatever which all involves ‘signing up’ and passwords and all of that.

Emily Johnson : “There is so much ‘setting up’ to do and any of (it) not working could just put people off completely”

All of these are potentially a big thing for people who haven’t any experience of it at all and any of them ‘not working’ could just put people off completely. But, when I think back now, being able to show Joyce things like Spotify (a music app) for example when we looked for an old song she had mentioned. It was such a nice feeling to find it and work in an app; that really went for all the sessions, finding something Joyce enjoyed and, every week, finding something new.

Part Two of the conversation about Get Online with Joyce and Emily will come soon

If you are interested in finding out more about Get Online in the libraries or you would like to book a place click/tap here

 

A Placements Perspective!

The Central Library sometimes takes work experience placements who are interested in working in libraries or in one of the areas covered by our specialist departments.  We thought it might be interesting for you to hear how one of our placements enjoyed their time in our Art and Design Library. Juliet Pinto is a student at a nearby high school, and came to work with us for a week as one of her many interests is art –

“My program for the week was very diverse – I did shelving, set up Christmas displays, helped with events and shadowed general desk duties. I was initially apprehensive about joining in with the Bookbug and Craft event, but after getting involved it was great fun – the parents were very kind regarding my lacking nursery rhyme repertoire. The Wheels on the Bus was the only one I recognised!

juliet-pinto-2

Juliet hard at work in the Art & Design Library

Something that really fascinated me was finding out the amount of resources, opportunities and events available to the public, both online and in branch. On the Edinburgh Libraries online website you can learn languages online, stream top quality classical and jazz music as well as access newspapers past and present from all over the world. eMagazines, audiobooks  and ebooks are also available to help further your knowledge of almost any topic. If you take only one thing away after reading this blog it should be that the Central Library and the online catalogue are so immensely useful!

I’ve really enjoyed my work experience this week and would urge anyone with an interest in art, music, history or rare books to enquire about a placement here as it’s helped me improve my timekeeping, organisational skills and ability to communicate with the public. This has truly been an experience I will never forget thanks to the kind and supportive staff”.

Thanks to Juliet for her hard work when she was with us – why not visit the Art and Music libraries and check out her Christmas displays!

 

Your services are changing – Play your part

Each year the Council engages citizens on its spending and savings plans for the year ahead.

Why We Are Consulting

We are asking you to think about the services below and put forward ideas and suggestions on how you would like these services to be developed thinking about your family, your community and the city as a whole:

  • Developing future library services and improving access e.g. through combining them with other community facilities, involving individuals and communities to help deliver the service and using technology such as swipe card access for 24 hour access to library buildings.
  • Developing the ways customers do business with the Council through enhanced online access to information about services, paying for services, requesting a service and giving their feedback.
  • Improving access to sport and leisure activities within all Council facilities for the benefit of communities. This will reach different groups and provide opportunities for doing this more effectively by involving individuals and communities

 

 

Complete the online survey by Friday 18 November

Summer of crafty fun in Edinburgh Libraries

Here’s a quick picture round-up of just a few of the activities that happened during the fantastic Big Friendly Read summer in Libraries.

Keep an eye on the Libraries’ calendar for other events coming soon or find out about regular activities, including craft events, happening in your local library.

 

Volunteer with Macmillan@Edinburgh Libraries

MacmillanThe Macmillan@Edinburgh Libraries service will launch in the autumn of 2016 in selected Edinburgh Libraries. This will be a free service aiming to provide information, support and signposting to people affected by cancer.

We are recruiting volunteers now!

We are looking for people with good listening skills and an interest in helping people. Full training will be given and expenses are payable.

Interested? Then come along to one of our information drop-ins and find out more:
Craigmillar Library
Monday 11th July 11-3pm
Monday 18th July 11-3pm

Central Library
Thursday 14th July 11-3pm
Thursday 21st July 11-3pm

Seven uses for your library card besides borrowing books

computerer

Could you be getting more from your library card?

Here are seven things that magic little piece of plastic entitles you to – and they are all wonderfully FREE:

1. Download free emagazines and newspapers with PressReader and Zinio

2. Read scholarly journals with Access to Research

3. Get help setting up a new business using the COBRA database

4. Trace your family tree with Ancestry

5. Get book recommendations from a real life librarian

6. Stream music with Naxos

7. Take a mock driving theory test with Theory Test Pro

How do you use yours?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upcoming talks and workshops

event

Our events calendar has details of what’s happening in libraries over the next couple of months. Here are a few of the highlights:

Alison Demarco: The Signature from Tibet

Wednesday 11th May, 2.30pm. Free – book online

Alison Demarco’s The Signature of Tibet is a breathtaking four-part, epic fictional story inspired by true events and follows the lives of four main, inspirational characters: The Soldier, Pembuti, Anne, and Palden.  Spanning the Highlands of Scotland to the remote and isolated Lowlands of Tibet, the book travels back in time to 1904 when a young Scottish soldier enters Tibet with the British Expedition.  Signature From Tibet is a must-read for anyone seeking spiritual enlightenment—or would just like to share in a fantastic journey the likes of which they’re unlikely to ever encounter again!

Edinburgh Tales: Charles Piazzi Smyth

Wednesday 18th May, 2.30pm. Free – book online

Charles Piazzi Smyth was appointed as Astronomer Royal for Scotland in 1846, where he was based at the Calton Hill Observatory. Bruce Vickery will be talking about the context of Smyth’s arrival in Edinburgh as Scotland’s second Astronomer Royal, and about some of his multi-faceted activities while in this post. Bruce is a retired mathematical physicist with an interest in astronomy and its heritage in Edinburgh.

The Waves Burn Bright by Iain Maloney

Tuesday 24th May, 6.30pm. Free – book online
In 1988 the Piper Alpha oil platform exploded killing 167 men. The Waves Burn Bright is a deeply affecting, sensitive portrait of its devastating aftermath on one family.
Author Iain Maloney talks about his new novel, which is based on this tragic event. His other novels are  First Time Solo and Silma Hill. He was also shortlisted for the Dundee International Book Prize and in 2014 he was shortlisted for the Guardian Not The Booker prize.

Scrieve-It

Monday 30th May, 6.00pm. Free – book online

Whither ettlin tae write in Scots frae the affset, or whither aready applying yer creative skeels tae the leid, the Scrieve-It workshoap will luik tae weys o explorin an developin new or existin writin in Scots, wi the National Library o Scotland’s resident Scots Scriever, Hamish MacDonald.

Former Robert Burns Writing Fellow for Dumfries and Galloway, Joint Artistic Director of Dogstar Theatre Company and Director of Moniack Mhor Writers’ Centre, Hamish has written numerous warks in Scots includin plays, fiction and also bairns’ verse, short stories and a teenage novella for Scots imprint Itchy Coo Publishing.

How to promote your book

Thursday 2nd June, 2.30pm. Free – book online

Are you an aspiring, small or self-published writer and want to know how to promote your book?  Come along and learn how to put together a basic campaign that is sure to get you started.

Diane Hinds is an experienced entertainment PR who has taught Campaigning & Persuasive Skills at the University of Westminster, on its BA: Public Relations & Advertising course and is a frequent Guest Visitor at Victoria Zackheim’s Personal Essay Writing course, part of UCLA’s Extension programme.

Magnus Linklater – Little Sparta, a guide to the garden of Ian Hamilton Finlay

Wednesday 15th June at 6.30pm. Free – book online

Chairman of the Little Sparta Trust, Magnus Linklater discusses Jessie Sheeler’s publication ‘Little Sparta – a Guide to the Garden of Ian Hamilton Finlay’. Ian Hamilton Finlay’s garden in the Pentland Hills, near Edinburgh, is widely regarded as one of the most significant gardens in Britain. In addition to being a spectacular example of garden design, it also features almost 300 art works by Finlay and others which form an integral part of the garden scheme.

The guide tells the story of Ian Hamilton Finlay’s extraordinary creation, exploring the underlying themes, and introducing and explaining the significance of the main elements and art works in each part of the garden. The publication also features new photographs by photographer Robin Gillanders as well as archival material.

 

 

 

How I engage with books – and how you could, too

By a dyslexic library member

I’d like to share three things that motivate me, as  a dyslexic adult, to engage with books. Good practice for dyslexic people is of course good practice for everyone else too.

So whether you find books difficult or not, you might find some useful tips below.

reader1)    Self-belief and knowledge based on experience

Two things that encourage me to engage with books are believing that I can do it, and knowing that I know how to.  Crucially, my self-belief and knowledge are based on my own experience.  It’s a bit like learning to swim – you have to make it from one side of the pool to the other before you know you can do it.  I’ve successfully engaged with books before by finding approaches that work for me, and using them.  So I know that all I need to do is repeat this process.

2)    Knowing that books are good for me

Until 4 years ago I blamed myself for my inadequacies.  Then I was identified with dyslexia and I realised that I have a set of difficulties caused by dyslexia.  My experience as an unidentified, unsupported dyslexic has ingrained in me some unhelpful attitudes and behaviours, including a proclivity to work.  Because these attitudes and behaviours are so ingrained and numerous, I need strong conviction or motivation to counteract them.  Otherwise they take precedence over positive behaviours such as self-care.  Knowing that books are good for me motivates me to engage with them.  It also gives me conviction in doing so.

3) Self-motivation

Previously, I didn’t enjoy books because I wasn’t able to successfully engage with them.  But since I’ve worked out how I need to approach books, I have become a book enthusiast.  For the first time in my life I am able to enjoy engaging with books, and feel confident in my ability to do so.  I am self-motivated now that book engagement is rewarding for me – it’s something I want to do.

See also:

Have you got a story about libraries that you’d like to share? Did the library help you learn something, meet new people or make a real difference to your life? What do you like best about your library? What would you like to change?

Whatever your story, we would love to hear from you.

If you’ve got an idea for a guest blog post email informationdigital@edinburgh.gov.uk

 

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.