The Poet-Tree of Stockbridge

Tales of One City

Today, on National Poetry Day, we hand over to Janette Ayachi to tell us how she worked with pupils from Stockbridge Primary School to create a tree full of poetry in King George V Park at Eyre Place.

I’m Janette Ayachi, a poet (and performer) living in Stockbridge with my two daughters and I engage in as many art projects, collaborations and literary events as possible alongside writing books. My first poetry collection Hand Over Mouth Music won the 2019 Saltire Literary Award and I have been published extensively in journals and anthologies. I also have a MSc in Creative Writing from Edinburgh University and I have appeared on BBC radio and television. More about me here:

In preparation for National Poetry Day on October 7th I organised a poetry workshop for the two P5 classes of Stockbridge Primary School. The Stockbridge Library librarian, Carol Marr, was as…

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George Washington Browne’s architecture in Edinburgh

Tales of One City

Architectural Drawing of Central Library by George Washington Browne, 1888

In anticipation of Central Library taking part in Doors Open Day on Saturday, we decided to take a closer look at the life and legacy of the architect who designed our beautiful building on George IV Bridge. The name might not be familiar, but Scottish architect George Washington Brown’s buildings in Edinburgh will be more so.

George Washington Browne was born in Glasgow in 1853, and started his architectural career aged 16 as an apprentice to Salmon Son & Ritchie. Finishing his apprenticeship, he moved to London and worked for Stevenson & Robson and later church architect Arthur William Blomfield.

In 1877 he won a scholarship which allowed him to travel to France and Belgium which would later have a great influence in the style of his work. Central Library is said to imitate the French Renaissance style and to…

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Changes in Libraries beyond Level 0

Tales of One City

Since May this year we have reopened most of our libraries, and we are now in the process of developing the full opening of libraries in line with the Scottish Government route map which allows for this from 9th August, with reduced restrictions.

Infection rates in Edinburgh are still high, so we must continue to take a cautious approach to returning to workplaces and restarting the services we had to suspend or reduce as part of our response to the pandemic. The health and safety of citizens and staff is our main priority, and we work closely with council colleagues to ensure this.

We are currently looking at the requirements to allow each library to resume full opening hours and range of services.  Our intention is to have communications regarding resumption of full library services soon.  Until then we need to adhere to the booking system and current restrictions…

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Cinescapes ReDrawing Edinburgh: free outdoor pop-up screenings coming soon to five areas of Edinburgh

Tales of One City

You may now be familiar with ReDrawing Edinburgh, a community-led outreach project supported by Edinburgh City Archives, Libraries and Museums designed to mark the centennial commemoration of the 1920 Edinburgh Boundaries Extension and Tramways Act.

Image credit: Lesley Martin photography

ReDrawing Edinburgh has been active for over 18 months now and produced a popular series of short films and digital exhibitions which explored what happened in 1920 and celebrated the identities and histories of these communities. These were produced in a partnership between local heritage and community groups and Edinburgh City Archives, Libraries and Museums services. After producing such popular online content, there is a real desire to deliver physical activities. Cinescapes: ReDrawing Edinburgh is the creative and physical culmination of this project.

Join us on the 3-18 September for Cinescapes: ReDrawing Edinburgh, a series of five pop up outdoor screenings of a new 15-minute film.

Image credit: Lesley…

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Help There’s an Alien in My Park!

A new book by our friend Emily Dodd



Should you choose to accept it: Read the story, complete challenges and do experiments to continue the adventure and send Fizz the Alien, home.

This is how ‘Help There’s an Alien in My Park!’ begins…

On the next page, the reader is introduced to their fellow team members, Ben and Jaz. Then they make their own team member profile. Adding a self portrait and annotating it with their skills, likes and dislikes:

Then the story can begin. Chapters are followed by challenges and challenges need to be completed to move the story forwards. Stickers, at the back of the book, get stuck in to complete each section. Rewarding the reader for their efforts helps them to keep going and they complete a certificate and enter a competition at the end of the book.

Team Work

I was commissioned to write ‘Help There’s an Alien in My Park’ by…

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League of Nations


The predecessor to the United Nations, the League of Nations was established in 1919, after World War I, under the Treaty of Versailles “to promote international cooperation and to achieve peace and security.” It was disbanded in 1940 due to its powerlessness to prevent conflict.

The National Library of Scotland have digitized a selection of League of Nations documents which are all freely available. Until recently relatively few documents at all had been digitised, so this is a welcome resource for researchers from many disciplines.  

The NLS have focused on the organisation’s non-political functions, as they constitute a great part of the League’s activities. Also available are publications giving a background to the League, such as the ‘League from Year to Year

The Bodleian Libraries, Oxford has a League of Nations library guide. It has a useful page on the notoriously complicated numbering system and types of…

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Objects, Archives and Diseased Potato Tubers

Open Book

When we think of archives, the first thing that comes to mind is books, paper, plans and maybe photographs or film.

Objects are not the first thing that we think of, but the National Records of Scotland has gained a number of objects over the years,from knives that have been involved in murders, to a piece of tartan said to have belonged to Bonnie Prince Charlie.

RH19/102, dated 1789 from SC29/53/51, from a trial involving the stabbing of a man at his eye

These have originated from many different collections,and we also hold artefacts that were once used in the early days of the office e.g. candles used in the Historical Search Room and clerks’ rulers. We also hold personal objects and mementos,such as hair of a loved one, which were kept within letters.

All of these objects end up being kept, and they present interesting storage challenges for the…

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16th century Gaelic manuscript acquired by NLS

image of a page from a very old book, with handwritten Gaelic text. Much of page is missing but it has been conserved
the Chronicle of Fortingall

16th century manuscript acquired for the nation
We’re delighted to announce that we were successful in securing the manuscript known as the Chronicle of Fortingall (pictured) at auction last month. This is a significant addition to our Scottish Gaelic manuscripts collection, which is the largest in the world.

Scribes compiled the manuscript between 1554 and 1579 at Fortingall in Highland Perthshire and it contains contemporary annals, poetry and other short texts in Latin, Scots and Gaelic. The scribes belonged to the MacGregor family who compiled the slightly earlier Book of the Dean of Lismore, which is the earliest surviving collection of Scottish Gaelic poetry and one of our greatest treasures. Scholarly research and evidence shows the two manuscripts were almost certainly compiled by members of the same family.

This acquisition was made possible with generous support from the Friends of the National Libraries, the Magnus and Janet Soutar Trust, the B H Breslauer Foundation Fund and the Leckie Family Charitable Trust.

– NLS Newsletter, June 2021

The Government Information Landscape and Libraries. A new publication from IFLA


The Government Information Landscape and Librariesillustrates the challenges and complexities posed by government publishing systems and the need to maintain professional government information expertise in libraries to assist users. The report demonstrates this through a series of case studies from selected countries, regions, and institutions worldwide that provide examples of government publishing practices, depositories, access to information, government libraries, preservation, data, and digitization.

Jennie Grimshaw (British Library) and Hannah Chandler (Bodleian Libraries) have co-authored the chapter (with thanks to Fiona Liang, National Library of Scotland) Government Information and Official Publications in the United Kingdom.

The chapter examines the complex and dynamic nature of official publications in the United Kingdom and how publishing has changed since the 1990s. It also looks at how the legal deposit libraries are collaboratively working together to capture digital publications/websites of official bodies (looking at the work United Kingdom Web Archive) and making them…

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Ethel Moorhead – ‘Scottish Leader of the Suffragettes’

Open Book

National Records of Scotland (NRS) holds a wealth of records about suffragette activities in Scotland, including their prosecution, imprisonment, newspaper reports and cases of force-feeding. In 2018 we celebrated the centenary of some women gaining the parliamentary vote with the exhibition ‘Malicious Mischief? Women’s Suffrage in Scotland’. As part of the exhibition, a mini-website was produced that gave visitors access to: a timeline of women’s suffrage; selected transcriptions of census returns from the 1911 census; and images of the complete files relating to the suffragettes featured in the exhibition. Originally this resource was only accessible in-person, onsite in the Matheson Dome, but has now been published and is available online. To celebrate, I’d like to highlight one of the suffragettes prominently represented in NRS’ archives – Ethel Moorhead.

Illustration of Ethel Moorhead from the magazine, The Wizard of the North (no.401, March 1912, p.7). Courtesy of Libraries, Leisure and Culture Dundee
Illustration of Ethel Moorhead from the magazine, The Wizard of the North (no.401, March 1912, p.7). Courtesy of Libraries, Leisure and…

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