Time Flies When You Are Having Fun


A year ago we were approached by Emily Dodd, to see if we could support her application to be a Reader in Residence in Leith Library.  The Scottish Book Trust (SBT) was planning to appoint five Readers in Residence to work with libraries to stimulate and deliver innovative projects around reading.  What could be more exciting?

We liked the commitment from SBT to allow the residencies to be shaped by the aptitudes and interests of each Reader in Residence and the needs of their partner library service.  At the time we were celebrating the 80th anniversary celebrations for the library service in Leith and it was a great time to look a projects that would enhance the library service for the future.

Team Leader Katie Swann worked with Emily to put together the funding application and we were so delighted to hear that we had been successful. For the first nine months of the contract the Reader would work within a library and its community and with a follow up period to work on their own piece of work inspired by the residency.


What an amazing year its been with so much feedback from our twitter and facebook followers who have enjoyed not only the innovative projects that have taken place but also the insight into day to day working in the library.

Ian Buchanan, Neighbourhood Manager for City Centre Leith says,

Having a Reader in Residence at Leith Library gave us the opportunity to engage with the local community in lots of new and innovative ways. Emily’s knowledge of social media, and all her creative ideas, really captured the spirit of Leith and encouraged people to share what they love about reading, as well as reaching out to a younger audience.

For Emily the highlights include the pirate treasure hunt, teddy bear sleepover, clothes swap party and mystery book sculpture. Read her top ten highlights blog for more.


Some final statistics show how much reading related activities have been inspired:-

  • Over 70 blogs were published in 9 months.
  • The blog has had over 13,000 views
  • Our facebook more then doubled – we currently have 517 fans.
  • Our twitter went from 0 to currently at 681.
  • Membership is up by 15%

Our most popular story is the one about the CSA Hamda who works on the library delivering boxes of book. He’s also a hulahoop dancer!


Some thank yous for the team of staff who have been photographed in their daily lives this year and for their enthusiasm in supporting every project inside and outside the library.

To Katie Swann who is currently working as Partnership Development Officer in the City Centre who worked so hard on getting the project up and running and to the Scottish Book Trust for the funding which enabled the whole thing.


Finally of course to Emily our amazing Reader in Residence for her inspiration, enthusiasm and dedication (it wasn’t a teddybear tweeting all night you know).  The library service has benefitted from your ideas and has been a great project for us to work on together.


– Kathy


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Teddy Bear Sleepover


The bears had a brilliant time at our sleepover last night!

We live tweeted the bears antics all night long but if you missed them on twitter you can see all of our photos in our Teddy Bear Sleepover album on facebook.

The bears loved our mystery book sculpture, read more about it here:


Hugless Douglas arrived in a box from all the way from Hodder Children’s in London!

IMG_20130619_133359  A naughty bear photocopied himself!


Two bears are hiding in this picture, can you spot them?


Our bears had lots of fun reading bear books!


They also raided the fridge, went to the toilet and look – I can see a bear bum!

IMG_20130619_175805IMG_20130619_180003IMG_20130619_175731 (1) 

Just now our bears are waiting for their owners in boxes with stickers, photos and books. They’ve had such a good time they’ve all written a postcard home!


Read more about our Teddy Bear Sleepover on the Leith Library blog, in the Edinburgh Evening News and in the Edinburgh Reporter. See profiles of the bears made by the bear owners before the sleepover on facebook here. See our sleepover album on facebook here

Posted in Animals, children, Events, People, Reading | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

Mystery Book Sculpture gifted to Leith Library

It came in a box:


It was addressed to us and to our Reader in Residence Emily Dodd (@auntyemily on twitter). We opened it to find this:


It’s a mystery book sculpture. There was a quote on the label too, from A. A. Milne:


The mystery book sculptor strikes again!

Literary organisations around Edinburgh have been gifted these wonderful book sculptures. They’re usually delivered to big places. The Scottish Story Telling Centre, The National Museums of Scotland, The Scottish Poetry Library.


We’re a community library so we’re proud to have chosen by the artist as the recipient of her wonderful work. You can read more about the book sculptures here. Or borrow Gifted from your local library.

Our sculpture seems to be a gift in support of what we’ve been doing to promote reading via social media and through the Scottish Book Trust Residency. Here’s what the Scottish Book Trust said about it:

Scottish Book Trust is delighted that one of our Readers in Residence has received one of these amazing homages to literature. Emily puts her heart and soul into delivering innovative projects around reading at Leith Library, and as such she is a truly worthy beneficiary of one of these unique creations, inspired as they are by a love of books, reading, and libraries.

Here’s what Liz McGettigan, Edinburgh Libraries Information and Services Manager said about it:

What a unique and wonderful way to support libraries! We’re absolutely delighted to see Leith Library has received this exquisite book sculpture.

Our Reader in Residence Emily Dodd (@auntyemily) said:

I can’t quite believe it, it’s such a wonderful thing to have happened in my last month as Reader in Residence at Leith Library!

How was it delivered?

Colin from the housing office took the delivery. He said it was a man in his seventies. The man said “Libraries are special places”. We agree.

Soon after the sculpture arrived we had calls from the Edinburgh Evening News and Chris Scott (Literary paparazzi). Here are a couple of Chris’s beautiful photos, the rest of his photos are here.

Perparing to Fly 2/3

Perparing to Fly 2/3

Here’s what the Evening News wrote.

Come and see it!

As a library we’re really excited to have received this wonderful gift. The book sculpture is on display at the front desk so please do pop in and see it:


Check out our mystery book sculpture album on facebook

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Young Adult Fiction Podcast goes Live

Ishbel, Sadie, Bethany and Stephen have been on a four week podcasting course at the library:


Last night we launched their finished podcast at a celebration event with friends, family, local councillors and literary types. There was a harp player and canopes and we all enjoyed listening to a preview of their brilliant podcast.

UPDATE: See photos of the event from Literary Paparazzi Chis Scott here.

Their podcast includes:

    • an interview with award winning author Keith Gray
    • a reading and interview with up and coming author Roy Gill (his first book is set in Edinburgh!)
    • a book review of a new trilogy from Black and White Publishing (Jack Shian)
    • tips on writing and inspiration for reading

Listen to the podcast on Soundcloud here

Their workshops included a tour of the sonic lodge recording studio over the road:


I enjoyed running the workshops with the teenagers and was so impressed with their initial applications and then with how well they worked as a team.

Author Keith Gray said they were better interviewers than journalists! Here’s a picture of all of us with Keith Gray:


And with author Roy Gill:


We’d love to hear what you think of the podcast and we’d be happy for your to embed it into your blog or website – please just link back to the Leith Library blog when you do and let us know so we can share it via our twitter and facebook.

Posted in Audio, Events, Reading, teen | 4 Comments

Book your Bear in for a Library Sleepover

On Wednesday 19th June we’re hosting our first teddy bears sleepover.

UPDATE: Find out how the bears got on on our blog here!


Just to warn you the bears probably won’t stay asleep in bed. Bears tend to get up to all sorts of fun things in the library when the doors are closed. We’ll be sharing photos of the teddy bear action all through the night via our twitter account.


Bring in your bear at 4pm on Wednesday 19th. 

We have twenty beds for bears that belong to children aged 3 – 5. 

When you arrive you’ll make a fab bear bookmark and we’ll get your bear registered. We’ll all have a bear story and we’ll sing some good night songs before we put the bears to bed.

You can come and collect your bear anytime the next day.  There will be a photo of your bear exploring the library to take away with you. Your bear will choose a free book too so you can bring that back with your bear. It really will be a great experience for your bear.

Book in My Bear!

If you live in Leith and would like to book in your bear please email leith.library@edinburgh.gov.uk with subject ‘Book in My Bear’ and include:

  • a photo or drawing of your bear
  • your bear’s name
  • who the bear belongs to: (optional, could be nickname, family etc)
  • your bear’s age
  • what is your bear like? (description)
  • what is your bear’s normal bedtime routine? (description)

We also need your name and your child’s name and age but we won’t share those on Facebook.

Teddy Bear Profiles

We’ve started a teddy bear profile album so we’ll add the bear profiles as them book in. We’ll include the info above so if you want to remain anonymous add a nickname to the ‘Who the bear belongs to’ bit.

My bear is very excited about staying over at the library so I’ve booked him in and made a profile so you get the idea:


Bear’s Name:  Bear (I know, not very original but it’s what I always called him)

Bear Belongs to: Aunty Emily

Bear Age: 30

What is your bear like? 

He’s brilliant! He likes stories, games and climbing up things. He likes having his tummy tickled. He’s kind to smaller bears but gets scared of bigger bears. He doesn’t like loud noises. He loves music. He’s a little shy when meeting new bears. He loves cake.

What is your bear’s normal bedtime routine? 

He likes a story and a wee dram. He usually stays up late (he’s not really a morning bear).

Sounds Fab

Hopefully you’ve got the idea! If you’re not able to email but wanted to drop a written version of the profile into us in the library that’s fine too. We just have twenty places so book your bear in soon to avoid disappointment.

Please remember the bear will need to be okay with staying over night in the library. Make sure his wee owner makes that very clear to the bear in case the bear is going to get upset about being without their owner for a night. If the bear is not going to be brave enough to stay we want to give his place to a bear that will stay.

We can’t wait to see what the bears get up to!

Follow what the bears are up to from 7pm on 19th June on our twitter account (you don’t need to be signed up to twitter to view this). We will update you with pictures of what the bears are doing every half an hour until morning so if you can’t sleep just take a peek! We’ll also add all the pictures to our facebook album the following day. 

UPDATE: Read all about our sleepover in the Edinburgh Evening News

Posted in Animals, children, Events, Parents, Reading | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Making Connections at Library Conferences


I’m off to Dundee to lead a reader development session at the Chartered Institute of Library Information Professionals Scotland (CILIPS) conference tomorrow. I’ll be telling people about what we’ve been doing here in Leith Library since my residency started.

My presentation includes hula-hoop dancing, parrots and a Christmas badger. It’s mostly about how libraries can encourage reader development using social media. It’s all about people (and animals).

The Edge

While I’ve been preparing for tomorrow I’ve been thinking back to the first library conference I ever attended. It was called ‘The Edge‘ and it took place in Edinburgh earlier this year. I wasn’t speaking at the edge, I enjoyed it as a participant.

The Edge completely changed my view of libraries. It opened my eyes to the potential of libraries being places that can and do change lives in so many different ways.

A few things that stuck in my memory:

  • Libraries in Glasgow teamed up with Macmillan cancer care to offer advice and support to those effected by cancer.
  • Teenagers at Skipton Library in yorkshire started ‘Rewind’, a song writing club and ended up winning a national award. Watch the video on Youtube here.
  • Examples of innovative library interior designs from all around the world:

20130228_114937 (1)

  • Dyslexia support delivered through libraries to children and parents.
  • Libraries helping people to engage with new technologies at e-book cafes.
  • Books on prescription to help with mental health along with pick me up books (reader recommendations to help you feel better).

We discussed how people need places to go to where they can get impartial advice and support. We saw how libraries can meet this need with models of libraries that are also community centres and housing offices (like Leith Library).

There was beer tasting too. This beetroot beer tasted like drinking beer while eating salad. I made sure I tasted every beer.



Library conferences are a great place to meet people. Here’s our Bookbug project worker Helen catching up with the Bookbug project worker from Muirhouse, Brenda:


I caught up with James Murdock, Director of Multimedia Content at New York Public Library after his talk about networking communities.


He ended up coming to visit Leith library the very next day. I think it helped that two weeks before I’d visited his library in New York and had written a blog comparing our two libraries but that was before I’d known he was speaking in Edinburgh so really it was one of those brilliant coincidences.

We’ve now established a link between our libraries and I’m very much looking forward to a guest blog from their brilliant blogger Anne Royer. They’re going to be sharing our upcoming teenage podcast on their blog too so our teenagers will get feedback from teenagers in New York, amazing!

If you’ve not been to a library conference I’d totally recommend it.

Tomorrow’s conference is sold out but you can follow the day online on twitter using the hashtag #CILIPS13. The next Edge Conference takes place in Edinburgh in February 2014. Find our more here

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Writing Workshop with Ewan Morrison

Free to use Book Week Scotland - the sequal

This Saturday we’re hosting a free writing workshop with author Ewan Morrison. The workshop is part of a series of workshops running across Scotland with the Scottish Book Trust.

There’s a competition too! To enter you need to write a story about a treasured object. You can find out more and submit your story here.

The best stories will feature in the Book Week Scotland Anthology. Last year 150,000 copies of the My Favourite Place Anthology were given out during Book Week in Scotland, we gave out a few hundred here in Leith. Did you get one?


This year just think, you could be in it! Which object matters to you and why? Why not write about it?

If you need a bit of help with your writing you’re in luck. There are four places left on this Saturday’s workshop. To book your place phone 0131 524 0160 or e-mail treasures@scottishbooktrust.com with your contact details.

If you can’t make the Leith Library workshop this Saturday then why not go to one of the other workshops taking place across Scotland? Find the list here

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Children Should be Seen and Heard

St Mary’s pupils launched the ME + US exhibition here in Leith Library last week:


They were one of the ME + US groups across the country who worked with the Children’s Parliament to investigate cultural identity, heritage and sectarianism from the perspective of children.

We interviewed project organisers and the children just before they launched their exhibition to find out more. Listen to the audio on Soundcloud here.

St Mary’s pupils work includes these brilliant portraits and personal statements:





You can pick up a copy of the ME + US newspaper from the library. It includes the 60 portraits and statements from children all over Scotland:


See the wonderful ME + US exhibition at Leith Library until the end of the month. Find out more on the Children’s Parliament Website or on Children’s Parliament Facebook.

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Millie Gray is a massive hit!

Earlier today I had a phone call from local author Millie Gray:


Millie had some good news. She called to let us know that last year 20,000 people borrowed her books from UK Libraries. That’s a huge number, the previous year it was 4000.

She phoned to say thank you because the increase happened after we wrote about her on our blog: Leith 1907: Millie Gray. The blog included an audio clip of Millie talking about old Leith and a clip from Jean (92) who wanted to tell Millie how much she loved Millie’s Books. Listen to the audio on soundcloud here.

We also held an event here in the library for Book Week Scotland with three local writers called ‘Memories of Leith‘.


So with Memories of Leith, the blogs and the social media sharing surrounding it all the borrowing of her books increased fivefold.

It totally made my day to get the call from Millie Gray. She was telling me she wants to get her books made into a TV drama next, she wanted some advice on that.

It’s wonderful to see how social media can make such a measurable difference and thanks to all of you who’ve helped to make it happen.

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Computer Classes at Leith Library

Every Friday morning Diane runs the Learn IT course here in the library. Each course has six places and runs for six consecutive weeks. We asked Diane a bit more about what happens and how it works. Watch the video on YouTube here:

We caught up with one of the course participants Mary just after session 3, the Internet. Press play to listen to Mary or listen on soundcloud here.

The Learn IT course covers:

  • basic mouse skills
  • word processing and keyboard
  • internet
  • email

If you or someone you know would like to book onto the next Learn IT course they can sign up for the next course in the library. Our courses are always fully booked. You can also phone us on 0131 5295517 or email leith.library@edinburgh.gov.uk to book a place.

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