Mythical Maze with a Leith Twist

10464081_10152540215494189_6275619187234156935_nIf you felt the artwork had an extra special feel this year, you would be right. After the Tesco sponsored launch of last year’s summer programme we were approached again by the Reading Agency to involve some of our young people in designing the reading challenge for this year. Some of our most enthusiastic readers and creative writers attend Holy Cross Primary and their P7s class were invited to participate in the consultative process for 2014’s reading challenge. As the sun set on 2013’s Creepy House challenge Holy Cross pupils met with author and illustrator Sarah McIntyre to explore the Mythical Maze theme. Sarah had some ideas about creatures she could draw and soon the children were contributing their ideas – a yeti, a unicorn, the Loch Ness Monster and even a ‘fat goth mermaid’. As Sarah sketched, details were added such as more scales, glasses for Nessie and so on.

9 months later the school had a secret preview of the Mythical Maze publicity and other materials ready for the launch of the Mythical Maze. The designs are well known through almost every school in the city as the library teams promote our summer reading challenge at assemblies and classes through the summer term ready for a host of weekly events from July to August. The Mythical Maze logo is a familiar sight promoting libraries across the country.
Holy Cross continued in their advisory capacity by suggesting activities for Leith Library’s programme this summer. Everything from designing clothes for a Leprechaun to making nose rings to a Minotaur. Their first idea came into being with Monster in the Loch activities in Leith last week.!/LeithLibrary/photos/pcb.10152513683576702/10152513678516702/?type=1&theater
Sarah will meet her Holy Cross friends again on Friday 22nd August when she returns for the medal giving ceremony.

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Christmas Fayre at Leith Library Hub


Wednesday was Stir Pudding Day, the day when you would traditionally put together your dried fruit, suet, and nuts for the Christmas pudding and feed it regularly with liquid until the big day.

If you haven’t done it yet then your favourite library – Leith Library or McDonald Road Library – will have a STIRRING recipe if you need it and a supply of inspirational cookery books.  You can reserve books from home or course if you have something in particular in mind.


Xmas pudding 1 - Copy

Inspired by Stir Pudding Day we planned an open day this week to help everyone to get ready in good time for the festivities. The Edinburgh Community Food Initiative were on hand with more foodie advice.

We invited Leith craft makers to sell their goods including Sikh Sanjog who brought along jars of pickles and chutneys, packs of pakora and provided some  mendhi for anyone who needed a festive hand decoration.

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Leith Library Hub gives access to lots of services and our colleagues in Services for Communities;  the Environmental Wardens were on hand to answer any questions from visitors you can see them here in their high viz. and to advise that the council is ready for what the winter bring.



The seasonal plants and decorations from the Inch Nursery were particularly popular.

A very important person asked if we could help him with his Christmas preparations too; santas helpers could be seen making wrapping paper and calendars for Santa to use in the weeks ahead. The Leith Registras provided refreshments for Santa and his helpers and Fergal McNicol broke his no-Christmas-songs before-December rule just for us.


IMG_0040Santa 3

Every year we hold an open day to publicise the many services that operate from the Leith Library Hub, last year focused on the 80th birthday of the building and this year we plumbed for a Christmas Fayre for Stir Pudding Day.  And 2014? Suggestions on a Christmas Card to


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XBOX Kinect nights at Leith Library

This summer, at Leith Library, with inspiration from the young people’s map of Leith, Leith’s Youth Services Network planned a whole programme of activities for young people this summer. With funds from our own Partnership and Information team and Community Safety team in the council we were lucky enough to get our hands on the equipment for an exciting new project for some of our younger readers to take part in – weekly gaming nights throughout the summer holidays.


The “equipment” in question was a delightfully shiny new XBOX 360 games console, and what’s more, a Kinect sensor to go with it. The Kinect is effectively a robot camera that tracks the game player’s movements – meaning that you don’t need to press buttons to control the game, but instead you can play it by jumping, dodging and diving, and sometimes just by waving your hands frantically around. This makes for a much more active gaming experience than just sitting in a chair and thumbing a controller – I have to admit that at times I ran out of breath, especially in the hot summer evenings!

We first launched the programme on 28th June with events in the Kirkgate. Scott from McDonald Road and myself went along and got involved a fun event with other youth groups from acros the Leith area — we even found time to shatter all librarian stereotypes with our five-a-side football skills (or so we’re going to keep on claiming…).


Some nights we had more kids and teenagers turn up to take part, sometimes fewer, but at least one always turned up, and on one memorable evening we had around ten eager, raucous participants, which was great fun … even if I did have to remind them to keep their voices down sometimes, as the ladies’ knitting circle were in the next room. The kids were fantastic, though, and organised whose turn was whose and which games they wanted to play with only the odd spot of careful supervision needed.


The project was also a good chance to collaborate with our sister library, McDonald Road. Our XBOX only came with one controller and one game, so we arranged to borrow some spares from McDonald Road to offer the kids a little variety – which meant having to get them back down there before McDonald Road’s own game nights! Either our Team Leader, Sandra, would organise this efficiently in advance … or, sometimes, I would simply dash into McDonald Road on my cycle to work, to stuff my backpack with games and promise Scott, that yes, I would bring them back, really I would.


The game nights were great fun overall. Whether I was helping one kid to guide a raft down a river by leaning to the left and right (and then suddenly having to JUMP to avoid an obstacle!), or just sitting back and providing a commentary as two of the older children developed a (mostly) friendly rivalry, it was a good opportunity to get to know a lot of our younger readers. I really enjoyed the buzz the XBOX nights created, too – the kids would ask me throughout the week when the next session was, which games we would have available…even who was going to turn up, though how I was supposed to know that is a mystery!


But best of all, it let us show the older kids that the library is for them. BookBug and craft events are wonderful for younger children, but giving something to our 10, 12 and 14-year-old readers is important too. To this end, Sandra and I have been figuring out the best plan for the XBOX and Kinect now that the summer project has ended. Huge thanks to our funders for helping us out with a great summer — we certainly won’t let those nice shiny games consoles go to waste.

So look out for games hour on Tuesday nights, starting soon here at both Leith Library and along the road at McDonald Rd. So if you are, or know, a teenager or young person who’d love to come down and play some Kinect, or hone their FIFA skills against some friendly competition – then come on down! Games Nights will take place at McDonald Road Library every Tuesday from 5.30pm, and at Leith Library from 6.30pm.

Of course, if you’d like to keep updated, then you can follow Leith Library on Twitter, and like the Facebook pages for Leith Library and McDonald Road Library.

– Aran

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Time Flies When You Are Having Fun

ImageA 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!

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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

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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.

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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 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

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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:

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  • 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 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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