Calling all gamers, aged 12-18!

Do you want to help devise and develop a brand new game?

Craigmillar Library, in collaboration with Scottish Book Trust Reading Champion Claire Askew, are launching an ambitious new project.  They’re looking for game enthusiasts aged 12-18 to help them build a new story-based game, which they’ll launch during Book Week Scotland in November.

Game Club at Craigmillar Library

They don’t know yet what the game will look like because they’re leaving that up to YOU. If you come along to their weekly Game Club*, you’ll get to tell them what you think the game’s story should be, what rules and mechanics it should use, and how and where it should be played.

The game YOU make will be distributed for free to audiences across the country as part of Book Week Scotland.

It doesn’t matter if you like to play card games, board games, computer games, RPGs, dexterity games, party games…
It doesn’t matter if you have no experience in game design.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a hardcore gamer or you’ve just dabbled… or if you’re not a gamer at all, but you’ve always fancied having a go.

Anyone aged 12-18 is welcome.

The Game Club* will meet every Monday evening, from 5.30pm until 7pm, at Craigmillar Library on Niddrie Mains Road. The first meeting will be on Monday 6th June 2016.

In the meantime, if you’d like more information about Game Club*, you can email, or pop into Craigmillar Library.


*working title

My first fortnight as Edinburgh’s Reading Champion

by Claire Askew

It feels like a long time since Scottish Book Trust‘s four new Reading Champions were announced, as part of Book Week Scotland 2015.  I was thrilled to be selected as the Reading Champion for Craigmillar Library in Edinburgh, and couldn’t wait to get started.

Fast-forward to mid-March 2016, and my first day in post. Walking into Craigmillar’s huge, modern, colourful Library, I couldn’t quite believe I had first-day-of-school butterflies!  I was about to meet most of the Library staff for the first time, and be thrown headlong into the busy schedule of clubs and activities.

It turns out, I needn’t have worried: my first week was full of warm welcomes.  I met the Library Link group, a weekly drop-in group for older people, run on Thursday mornings.  Library Link mornings mean lots of cups of tea, tasty snacks, chatting, and exchanging books.  At my first meeting, some of the Library Link ladies introduced me to the library’s rotating stock of knitting magazines, and we bonded over our shared experiences of knitting disasters and triumphs!

Claire at Kids Knitting Club.jpg

Claire at Kids Knitting Club

That same week, I sat down with some of the library’s biggest fans: the local children who come along after school to spend time here.  For many of them, the library provides a handy space to meet up – they play games on the computers and games consoles, and attend the various kids’ clubs run by library staff.  Craigmillar Library runs a twice-weekly Minecraft Club for over-7s, a drama group, and a variety of crafting activities (you can find out what’s on at Craigmillar by visiting the Library Facebook page).  Naturally, I was keen to attend the Kids’ Knitting Club!  While we learned some new stitches, I asked the kids what they’d put in their dream library.  The answers varied from “books about Viking boats” to “a chocolate funtain” and “a resident library owl”!

A Monster Murder Mystery the crime scene.jpg

A Monster Murder Mystery the crime scene.

I had to get my sleeves rolled up right away: the library staff and I were keen to run some kind of event to launch Scottish Book Trust‘s new public writing campaign – and we had less than two weeks to decide what it would be!  Library advisor and resident games expert Joe suggested a murder mystery style game, as the theme of the writing campaign is “Secrets and Confessions.”  I got to work, figuring out how to incorporate books and reading into a (family-friendly) murder mystery activity.

The resulting activity was A Monster Murder Mystery – a scenario in which Frankenstein’s monster had escaped from his book (we all know fictional characters do this when we’re not looking, right?), and turned up lifeless in the library, with no explanation.  We invited amateur sleuths aged 8+ to come into the library, examine our crime scene, and hunt for clues in order to solve the mystery.

A Monster Murder Mystery the crime scene.jpg

I created the game in order to introduce participants to the variety of titles stocked in the library, and to teach useful library skills, like how to search the online library catalogue, how to find out what activities are offered, and so on.  On the day of the activity, over twenty kids and teens came along to the library to get involved.  They worked in teams (with wonderful, alliterative names: Mystery Marshmallows!  Monsters In Crime!) and worked their way around the library collecting my clues, following their hunches, and using their case files to record the evidence.

In the end, the Master Minds team took first prize, solving the mystery first – though it was a photo finish!  By the end of the day, we could see that several of the kids had benefited from getting involved – within half an hour of the game ending, one young man used the library catalogue to reserve a book for the very first time!

In case you were wondering what adult readers got to do while all this was going on… never fear!  Also to launch “Secrets and Confessions,” I ran a Twitter hashtag for adults to get involved in: #IConfessINeverRead.  I invited adults to let me know what books they thought they probably ought to read, but never had… and the results were very interesting indeed!  Who knew so many people had blagged their way through classes in school, essays at Uni, and even exams on books they’d never actually read?!

It’s been a whirlwind fortnight, but I don’t have time to stop now… my next task is to prepare some exciting activities for World Book Night, coming up on 23rd April.  Craigmillar Library will be giving away three different texts: Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive, Sarah Hilary’s dark crime novel Someone Else’s Skin, and, for the poetry lovers, Carol Ann Duffy’s Love Poems.  If you want to keep an eye on what I’m plotting, you can follow my Reading Champion blog on Tumblr.  Watch this space!


Craigmillar’s new Reading Champion “can’t wait to get started”

Claire Askew is Craigmillar Library’s brand new Reading Champion.

Claire’s appointment was announced yesterday as part of Book Week Scotland.

The residency at Craigmillar Library will aim to connect with the local area, engage with the people who live here and the stories they have to tell. We hope to encourage people to explore the library and become a springboard for creativity and ideas as well as encouraging life-long learning in the community.

Claire, who is a poet, writer and creative writing teacher, said, “I am so pleased to have been selected and I’m especially pleased that I’ll get to work alongside the brilliant team at Craigmillar Library. We’re hoping to engage the teens who come into the library and create a huge, collaborative, story-based role-playing game. We’ll also be asking adults who live in and around Craigmillar to get involved in some interactive story-telling and creative writing activities. I can’t wait to get started!”

“Blazingly odd” haiku

Reader-in-Residence Ryan Van Winkle writes…

The joy of working with children in schools has always been the amount of pure, weird, creativity at play. Abstract images and thoughts could often give legendary surrealists a run for their money.

Alongside Niall Walker, Edinburgh Libraries ‘Reading Champion’, the kids at St. Katharine’s came up with this blazingly odd haiku. We loved it so much, we got them to draw some pictures and turned it into this original animation. We’re pretty proud of it and hope you take a moment to enjoy.

With thanks to Edinburgh Libraries and Those Media Guys.

Edinburgh Libraries project tipped for national accolade

A groundbreaking City of Edinburgh Council reading project is in the running for a prestigious national award. 

The Edinburgh Reading Champion Project, which encourages reading for pleasure among looked after children and young people in residential care, has been shortlisted in the Children’s Services category for next year’s LGC Awards, the biggest awards in local government. 

Winners will be announced at the LGC Awards on Wednesday 24th March 2010 at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London.  

Edinburgh Libraries Reading Champion, Colm Linnane

The Edinburgh Reading Champion Project is focused on helping Edinburgh’s most vulnerable young people to discover the pleasures of reading, contributing to their self esteem, sense of attachment and educational achievement.  

Reaching out to accommodated and looked after children and young people, the project provides access to a ‘Reading Champion’, Colm Linnane, who speaks to the young people about books and gives them encouragement to read. The Reading Champion also liaises with staff in different units, organises staff training and gives them ideas and advice on how books and reading can be incorporated into young people’s lives. 

The project aims to give vulnerable young people the chance to enjoy books and reading for pleasure while improving their literacy skills. It also ensures that the units have books that are easily accessible. The aim is for looked after and accommodated children to have the same access to books as they might have if they were living in a family home and for reading to become a daily part of their lives. 

The project was initially funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation ‘Right to Read’ scheme, with match funding from the Council’s Children and Families and Services for Communities departments. Following its success, it is now being mainstream-funded by Edinburgh City Libraries and Information Services and Children and Families. The project also works in partnership with Action for Children Scotland, Barnardos, Edinburgh International Book Festival, Scottish Storytelling Centre, Scottish Book Trust, Who cares? Scotland and Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust.

 Watch a YouTube clip about the Edinburgh Reading Champion Project