One year on

Tales of One City

A year ago, our Libraries closed their doors, joining the effort to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. None of us expected the ‘stay at home’ message to last so long or that libraries would be closed again one year later.

We did realise we were living through a momentous and strange time. We wanted to record the effects of the pandemic and Edinburgh Collected gave us the means to gather images from across the city. With your help, we recorded the changes to normal life and the visual signs of the pandemic – rainbows, chalk drawings, supermarket queues, facemasks – the sights now commonplace, that last Spring and early Summer were new and alien.

Dinny visit yer Granny! shared by Carol

We’re tremendously grateful to all those who helped us record this past strange and difficult year on Edinburgh Collected, our online community archive.

Cleaning Mania, shared by reignlea…

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What libraries mean to me with Heidi James

Tales of One City

In our latest library Q & A session, we ask writer Heidi James, what libraries mean to her.

Heidi James is the author of novels, Wounding, So the Doves and The Sound Mirror and the novella, The Mesmerist’s Daughter. She has had poetry published in many journals and has a PHD in English Literature.

Portrait of Heidi James
Heidi James

What do libraries (including Edinburgh City Libraries) mean to you as a reader and as an author? Are the meanings different?
The library was, and I mean this without exaggeration, a life saver for me. My teenage single mum was skint, I was book-mad from an early age (I was reading from age 3) and our weekly visit to the library after we’d done the shop was magic for us. The luxury of lingering in the warm safe quiet, savouring the sweet dusty scent while choosing books couldn’t be beat. It’s staggering that…

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Celebrating International Women’s Day

Tales of One City

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…

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Choose to challenge – Panel discussion event for International Women’s Day


Tales of One City

“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 novelA Matter of Time, forthcoming from Hodder in September 2021.

Portrait of Stella Hervey Birrell

Stella Hervey Birrell is an award-winning…

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Meet the author – an evening with Monique Roffey

Tales of One City

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

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Edinburgh Libraries are celebrating World Book Day and International Women’s Day – March 2021

Tales of One City

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…

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Conservation of a Sketchbook

Open Book

Detail: Ilan Dun from the Village, showing the cragsmen of St Kilda (NRS: GD41/598)

Sir Thomas Dick Lauder was an administrator in manufacturing and fisheries during the 1840s, required to travel extensively around Scotland’s coasts. In his journeys, he sketched detailed scenes of the coastlines and fishing villages he visited.

NRS Conservator Jackie Thorburn has been telling us about striking and interesting items from our archives that she’s been working on. Today, she shares excerpts from one of Sir Thomas’s sketchbooks and tells us how she stabilised and preserved this fascinating record of one man’s working life….

Condition and treatment

This is one of twenty five sketchbooks that Thomas Dick-Lauder produced during his voyages around the British coastline, made between June 1841 & August 1846.

This particular volume – number four in the series and measuring 180 x 265 x 17mm – covers the period from 5 July to 3…

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Lockdown library services

Tales of One City

Whilst libraries are closed you can still access a fantastic free range of online services to fulfill your reading needs.

Put your tablet, phone or computer to good use by accessing our Library2go collection of downloadable ebooks, audiobooks, magazines and newspapers

Libby / OverDrive– our essential app and website for adults and kids with thousands of ebooks, audiobooks, comics and coming soon – magazines.

PressReader– thousands of Scottish, UK and worldwide newspapers and magazines. Download your daily newspaper for free.

Borrowbox and uLIBRARY – two more brilliant adult audiobook services.

Help is available too to get you started or answer any questions you may have about these services – just email the Your Library Helpline at with your contact details and what you need help with and we’ll email/phone you back.

Please spread the message to friends and family who may not be members of…

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Want to get online? We can help!

Tales of One City

Covid-19 has changed people’s lives in many ways. Perhaps, one of the most significant changes is that the use of technology in day-to-day life has become more important than ever before. With no social gatherings, cinemas or eating out, people are turning increasingly to online activities. Whether it’s online shopping, entertainment, work meetings or social gatherings with family and friends, the use of technology is almost unavoidable.

Our libraries have a wide range of books on technology. Whether it’s learning to use a device, learning to use the internet or becoming confident on social media, we’ve got it all covered. As our online presence becomes more and more frequent, staying safe online becomes equally important, so it is essential to know about online safety too.

While our library buildings are closed and there is no access to physical books, we have a selection of resources available online to help! We…

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Scottish Novels to Look Forward to

doug johnstone

The Scottish Book Trust gives an early shout out to The Great Silence, out in August, as one of their Scottish Novels to Look Forward to in 2021. It’s a fantastic list of books, check them all out here.

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