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 to book a place.

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Treasure, Books and a Parrot


Ahoy there land lovers! Well done to the pirates of Leith who solved the clues online to find our secret pirate location for World Book Night. We were waiting on the Leith Agency barge with copies of Treasure Island, prizes and a parrot. Arrr!

Pirate Leia was the first to find us:


She took home a copy of treasure island and a £10 Tesco voucher (after a wee sword fight with her pirate mum over which prize they should go for):


Pirate Isla was our littlest pirate. She had a good look at Bongo: 20130423_174541

And almost lost her hat to him:


She loved her prize ‘My Granny is a Pirate’:


Pirate Fiona looks like she’s done this before:


She took home Treasure Island and pirate snap for little pirate Rory (who was a little camera-shy). Pirate Lechlan claimed a hat and sword along with his copy of Treasure Island:


Pirate Eric brought us some copies of his world book night book:


We saluted Pirate Jim and the Leith Agency crew for letting us board their boat and fly the pirate flag:


Lastly we the crew were Captain Colm, Pirate Emily and 1st Mate Victoria:


Back at Leith Library (pirate HQ) the staff joined in too, here’s pirate Steven:


Pirate Diane:


Pirate George:


And Pirate Colin from the Housing Office (a very polite pirate):


The next day Helen even ran a pirate themed Bookbug session:


Arr me hearties. We hope you all enjoy your free copies of Treasure Island for World Book Night and remember you can borrow free books from the library all year round!

I wrote about my experience of being a pirate for the day here.

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Pirates of Leith are Go

Arr, me hearties! It’s time to solve the clues and get hunting for World Book Night.


For the first bit you don’t have to go anywhere, just use to solve each clue and discover our secret pirate postcode.







Here’s how to crack the code:


One you’ve cracked it put your best pirate feet forward and walk to the postcode area to claim your booty, look out for the pirate flag and make your voyage between 4pm and 6pm.

You booty is treasure indeed, it’s a copy of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.


There are prizes hidden in the books too (tickets to Royal Yacht Britannia, pirate stickers, Tesco vouchers, Knit Your Own Scotland book, pirate pencil-case, pirate breakfast at The Haven Cafe and much more!)


Read more about our treasure hunt on the Leith Library blog and see Pirates of Leith Photos in our Pirates of Leith Facebook Album. You can also follow the fun on twitter, pirates will be tweeting from @leithlibrary.

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Pirate Treasure Hunt for World Book Night

UPDATE: The treasure hunt has started, solve the clues here!

We’ve borrowed a pirate parrot (Bongo the giant golden macaw):


We’ve got pirate hats and hooks:


We’ve got a secret pirate location in Leith!

We’ve got treasure:


Tuesday 23rd of April is World Book Night. We’re celebrating by giving away copies of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic “Treasure Island” but you have to find us first….

Clues about the history and geography of Leith will be released during the day and must be deciphered using our fab new Our Town Stories website, ar me hearties!

You’ll be looking at old photos of Leith and solving clues that were written by a team of poetic pirates. Each clue will lead you to a letter or number and when you put them all together you’ve cracked our secret pirate (post)code.

Then you just need to put your best pirate feet forward and journey into deepest darkest Leith to our secret pirate postcode location and look for the pirate flag. The flag will lead you to the pirates and there you will claim your booty. You’ll also get your pirate portrait taken with a real parrot and don’t worry, we’ve got spare hats and hooks so you’ll look the pirate part.

There’s treasure hidden in the treasure too! 

As if pirate portraits, parrots and copies of Treasure Island weren’t enough… if you’re thirsty we’ll pour you a pirate punch and you can check inside your copy of treasure island to see if there’s even more treasure. Local businesses who love books have donated prizes. You might win

Tickets to Royal Yacht Britannia:


Pirate breakfast at the Haven Cafe:


A £10 Tesco Voucher!

Knit Your Own Scotland:


Pirate stickers:


If you’re a local business and you want to donate some treasure to our pirate treasure hunt then email Pirate Emily at

You can find the pirate booty between 4pm and 6pm. The first twenty people to get to us get the booty. Pick up a clue sheet from Leith Library in person on Tuesday or check the Leith Library blog, twitter and facebook where we’ll be releasing the clues on Tuesday. Happy reading me hearties!

This is not the first time we’ve written about pirates on our blog, we love pirates! Read about pirate Bookbug here.

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The Croods Competition Winners

We had over twenty entires into ‘The Croods’ animal mashup drawing competition and it’s finally time to announce the winner. Massive congratulations to Zak Lang, age 8 for his wonderful winning entries:



The judge was illustrator Rachel Everitt. Rachel ran an illustration workshop at the library over Easter to help aspiring illustrators with their entries (read about it on the blog here). Here’s Rachel choosing the winning entry:


Here’s why Rachel chose Zak as the winner:

The amount of work that’s gone into it.. good imagination, good names, nice colouring. Love the humipede. There seems to be a lot of care. The wee characters and faces are fab, the eyes on the slothorilla. It’s great!

Well done Zak, you win this Croods goody box:


Runners Up

Rachel chose three runners up too. The runners up win a set of artists pens. Here are their entries along with Rachel’s comments:

Elegator by Katie Whitham (9):


It’s really striking and really memorable. As soon as you see it, it stands out as unique, great face, great combination, its fab!

Bebra by Adam (5):


The Bebra is very good. I love the feet on it, really bold. The way he did those feet in the workshop – it really showed potential to work well with a paint brush. Really nice, fun name and fun combination.

Cueman by Eilidh Spence (10):


Great character, really carefully done. A lot of though went into that. I love that she’s written so much about the description, really imaginative. It’s a striking character!

Leith Library Runner Up Award

We have one last runner-up. This goes to Cameron Allan, one of our library regulars. We were really impressed with his participation in the illustration workshop, he tried out lost of different techniques and sent in multiple entries. Our favourite is the giraffe-hip:


Well done Cameron, you win a set of pens too.

Thank you to everyone who entered our competition. The standard of entry was very high and we were really impressed with your illustrations and imagination. 

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Clothes Swap, Cake and Stories Party


We’re having a clothes swap party on Saturday 27th April from 2pm – 4pm and we’d love it if you joined us. The idea is you bring clothes that don’t fit or clothes you don’t really wear. They’re nice clothes but you swap them for something that fits you or suits you better. It’s fun and it’s free.


The library is all about stories so we’ll be giving our brown luggage tags for you to write the story behind a favourite top or an old handbag. We’ll be swapping stories and clothes!

Afternoon Tea

We’ve got afternoon tea on tap from Home is Where the Cake is. It will be served in china cups, there will be Victorian cake stands and fancy table cloths. There will be gluten free and sugar free cakes (using only natural sugars – honey etc) and of course full fat sugary wheaty yummy cakes. And cupcakes, there will be cupcakes!

Clothes Customisation and Repairs

We’re also offering a customisation and repair stand so you can work on your clothes throughout the session with help from our dress maker (and cake baker) Claire Walter.

How does it work this clothes swap thing?

When you arrive you’ll get a voucher for the number of items you bring and that’s how many items you can take away. We’ll have a rag and scrag bag so if you bring something tattered that won’t count, it will go in the rag bag.

From 2pm until 3pm people will arrive, eat cake, write stories, share stories, try on clothes (there are three changing rooms) and generally have a good time.

Just before 3pm we’ll have a story circle where you can read the story of one of your items if you want to. The stories will be short and sweet – they fit on a luggage tag.

At 3pm we will ring the bell. That’s when you go and get the items you want. No pushing anyone over to get that gorgeous red dress (:

And then we eat more cake, share more stories and customise clothes. At the end, if anything is left over and everyone’s had chance to get the items that they want you can take the left overs.

And what ever if left after that will go to a charity shop.

Please do let us know if you’re coming – we need to know numbers for cake. Sign up to the event on Facebook here (and please do invite friends) or email us at

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What are Teenagers Reading?

Last week I emailed five teenagers to tell them they had been successful in securing a place on our Leith Library podcast workshops. They’ll be attending four workshops, interviewing authors and making at least one podcast about the young adult fiction they’re reading. You can read more about the project here.

I’ve been chatting to the Edinburgh Libraries Children and Young Peoples Librarian Simon Radcliffe in advance of the workshops to find out more about what teenagers are reading. This is Simon:


I mentioned I didn’t like vampires and he said:

That’s okay, vampires aren’t in any more. First it was Wizards after Harry Potter, then it was vampires. Next it was werewolfs, then it was ghosts falling in love with humans or vice versa and now it’s dystopian futures.

If you’re wondering what’s a dystopian future is you could google image search it. It’s basically a frightening future, the opposite of utopia. Think The Hunger Games.

So Simon clearly know’s his stuff. I asked him to let me know a bit more about popular authors, books or series for teenagers. Here’s the list he sent to me:

Wolfson, Jill – Cold hands, warm heart

  • A young girl tragically dies at a gymnastics competition, while another girl with incurable heart disease awaits a transplant.

Meyer, Marissa – The Lunar chronicles: Cinder

  • Dystopian take on the Cinderella story. First of a series

Carter, Ally – Don’t judge a girl by her cover

  • Series about girl spies. Thrills, spills and romance!

Sepetys, Ruta – Between shades of gray

  • Harrowing story of 15 year old Lina, her mother and brother, taken by the soviets and transported to Siberia

Roberts, Jeyn – Dark inside

  • Post apocalyptic zombie horror. First of a series

Smith, Jennifer E – The statistical probability of love at first sight

  • A few seconds delay, a plane missed and a romantic friendship struck up between two strangers

Bachorz, Pam – Candor

  • A perfect town where everybody is happy. Too good to be true? Of course! Something must be keeping everyone in line!

Condie, Ally – Matched

  • Another dystopian trilogy where young people are matched with their perfect partner. But not everyone is happy

Pearce, Jackson – Sisters Red

  • Two sisters and their friend battle werewolves with more than a passing reference to the classic Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale

Anderson, R J – Ultraviolet

  • A young girl is incarcerated in a mental institution for murdering a fellow student. But no body was ever found and there were no witnesses to the apparent crime

Roth, Veronica – Divergent

  • Society has organised itself into 5 factions after pulling back from the brink of an apocalypse. This will ensure there will never be war again, or will it? A hard hitting dystopian trilogy, soon to be a film

Ness, Patrick – A Monster Calls

  • Immensely moving account of a boy coming to terms with his mother’s terminal illness. Written by Patrick Ness and based on an idea by the late award winning writer Siobahn Dowd

Dogar, Sharon – Annexed

  • The story of Anne Frank as seen through the eyes of Peter van Pels who’s family shared the hidden annexe with the Franks

Collins, Suzanne – Hunger games

  • This was the book that started the dystopian craze, one of the biggest sellers since Twilight. Will Katniss survive the hunger games and the fight to the death by the contestants? First of a trilogy and a mega successful film

Rayburn, Tricia – Siren

  • 17 year old Vanessa is afraid of everything but her life changes after the body of her older sister is found washed up on the shore. Despite the title this is a book about mermaids! First of a trilogy

Dale, Katie – Someone else’s life

  • Not only does Rosie have to come to terms with the death of her mother from Huntington’s disease, she then learns that Trudi was not in fact her biological mother and so begins a search for the truth with possible painful consequences

Clare, Cassandra – City of bones

  • An urban fantasy packed full of supernatural creatures including vampires with some romance thrown in. Currently five in the series with another planned. Also being made into a film. And who said vampires were dead!!

Garcia, Kami and Stohl, Margaret – Beautiful creatures

  • New girl at school Lena is a caster and can use magic. But will she be claimed by the dark or the light? A supernatural romance and the first of a series of 4. The film is due to be released soon

Link, K and Grant, G (Editors) – Steampunk

  • 14 ‘fantastically strange stories’ from amongst others Holly Black and Cassandra Clare celebrating alternate universes, clockwork automatons and steam powered airships!

The good news is we’ll be hearing more from Simon later in the year, he’ll be writing us a guest blog! Also, we’ll be finding out what our teenagers like reading and why.

Are there any books missing that you think should be on the list above?

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Goodbye Katie Swann!

On Friday we said goodbye to our brilliant team leader Katie Swann. Katie was the boss of the library. Here she is with a giant book:


She’s become a Neighbourhood Partnership Officer on a 1 year secondment, that means she’s based in town. This week she’s running a litter pick on the Royal Mile amongst other things. We wish her all the best in her new post.

I asked each staff member to tell me one thing they remember that Katie did well, here’s what they said:

She still managed to come in even when she got knocked off her bike, that’s commitment!

If you asked her to chase something she always followed through and got back to you.

It was her that pushed to get the computer clubs up and running again, we’d been trying for two years but she got it started.

She was my partner in crime, she always came up with great ideas!

Katie was always very efficient and organised. On a personal note she always made sure I had time to do my frontline training EVEN by covering the desk herself.

Sitting opposite Katie meant we shared lots of stories. She’s easy to work with and good fun on a night out.

She was great at filling in for Bookbug Sessions, she always made the babies smile…

As the resident newbie, I can only reiterate what a friendly and welcoming intro to the job she gave me.

Here she is at her goodbye drinks (it’s actually a pint of water not vodka):


And as for me, I wouldn’t be writing this to you now if it wasn’t for Katie. There would be no Reader in Residence at Leith Library and no blog either. Katie from me thanks for being up for putting in an application with me and for supporting me all the way through the post. Thanks for all your ideas and encouragement. I’ll miss you!


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