Edinburgh Napier University

Month: April 2023


Bridges update


Following our blog last year on Scotland’s Bridges we thought we update you on the latest bridge news, although this bridge is not exclusively Scottish-it is shared with our English neighbours.

Historic Bridges

Another one of Scotland’s (and England’s) historic bridges hit the headlines recently when it was re-opened after a major re-fit. The Union Chain Bridge was the longest wrought iron suspension bridge in the world when it opened in 1820 and is the world’s oldest vehicle suspension bridge. Spanning the River Tweed, it connected Scotland and England and cut out a long detour either downstream to Berwick-upon-Tweed or upstream to Coldstream.

Designed by Captain (later Sir) Samuel Brown RN, who held patents for the design of the chains, he altered the tower and abutments on the suggestion of John Rennie. Construction began in 1819 and the bridge was completed in less than a year. The opening ceremony saw 700 spectators cross the bridge. Tolls were charged until 1855.

The Future

The recent renovations aren’t the first time the bridge has had major work carried out on it. It has been strengthened and refurbished several times with the bridge deck replaced in 1871 and 1974 and cables added in 1902.

As the years passed the bridge needed yet another refurbishment and in 2013 it was expected to close. However a campaign was started to raise funds to carry out the works needed. With funding from Historic England, Scottish Borders Council, Northumberland County Council Work and the National Lottery Heritage Fund work was started in October 2020, but due to the covid-19 pandemic there were delays. Now with all parts having been removed, checked, replaced or restored the bridge was finally opened again on 17th April 2023. This historic crossing is once again carrying vehicles and pedestrians.

Watch drone footage of the works-https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-south-scotland-65274771

Watch the first pedestrians and vehicles cross the newly opened bridge- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXeKnjGDGp0

You can find books and articles about bridges and engineering using Library Search




Read our previous post about bridges of Scotland here

By Vivienne Hamilton

photo source Bjorn Snelders 

World Penguin Day

World Penguin Day

Whether you find them adorable, funny, and loveable for their distinct characteristics, penguins are highly adaptable aquatic animals with impressive swimming abilities. Located around the southern hemisphere, species vary in size from just 30cm tall to just over 1 metre.

These flightless birds spend a staggering three quarters of their existence at sea and can dive to depths of around 200m, whilst emperor penguins can reach 500m. Their flippers act as paddles helping them manoeuvre through the water, as their plumage helps them stay afloat and warm by trapping air. The distinctive colour of penguins prevents them from being easily spotted by predators on land, in the air or underwater.

Edinburgh Zoo

Sit back, relax and take a short break to watch Penguins live on Edinburgh Zoo’s Penguin Live cam:


Life of the Penguin 

World Penguin Day coincides with the northern migration of Antarctica’s native Adelie penguins who migrate north for the harsh winter months for better access to food and return home for the summer months to build their nest and rear their young. However, the day has been adopted as a celebration of all species of penguin.

Due to overfishing, pollution of oceans by plastics, oil spills and global warming which is changing the Antarctic landscape, the statistics from the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) provides grim reading for the future of penguins, with 10 of the 17 species  considered endangered or vulnerable and another 3 from that group considered near threatened.

Interested in knowing more about the various penguin species? See the Penguins International | World Penguin Day: Penguin Conservation Status blog.

For a lighter look at more penguin facts and perhaps a trip down memory lane, click on the link below:

Penguin Facts: With Professor Pingun: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ePfY1CnGJo

You can read about other animal like for World Lion Day

or read more about Penguins 

photo source: Cornelius Ventures

By Mo Almas

Record Store Day 22nd April

Record Store Day 22nd April

April 22nd is Record Store Day celebrating the small, independent record stores that offer in-store shopping for classic and newly released vinyl records. Although we now mostly listen to music through streaming services, until the 1980’s vinyl was the preferred method. When the compact disc arrived in 1982 it spelt trouble for vinyl records. Improved sound and portability meant that purchases of vinyl records plummeted. There was still a small market for vinyl-DJs who preferred the sound and found it easier to mix tracks on vinyl, and collectors who wanted to own as many releases as possible from their favourite artist. Without the convenience of Internet shopping, collectors had to visit shops in person or use mail-order facilities if available.
Some artists persisted with vinyl. In 1983 New Order released Blue Monday on 12-inch vinyl despite the huge popularity of CDs. The track has gone on to become the best-selling 12-inch single of all time. Despite this, vinyl sales were still badly in decline. According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, sales of vinyl albums tumbled from a peak of 1.1 billion worldwide in 1981 to 450 million in 1989; 109 million in 1993; and just 33 million in 1995. By 1997, they were down to 17 million, and they plunged as low as 3 million in 2006. Many independent record stores closed, but some managed to stay open thanks to their loyal customers.

Vinyl Comeback

By 2020 however, vinyl sales had taken off again with over 27.5 million sales in America. Why the rise in popularity? According to Robert Palmer of Roan Records in London:
“There is definitely something to be said for the tangibility of vinyl. Anyone can stream music any time they want, but for those looking for a deeper connection to music, you can’t match a physical record you can hold in your hands and go through the ritual of putting it on and listening.”
Then there’s the artwork. There are many iconic album covers which are often more collectable than the album itself.
As part of the resurgence of vinyl, the inaugural Record Store Day was held in 2007. It’s a day when small independent record shops celebrate their culture and role in in their communities. The shops put on special promotions such as limited editions of vinyl records by well-known and lesser-known artists in colour or 12-inch format and they may also have live music in-store. The aim is to shine a spotlight on independent record stores and hopefully increase revenue as well as try to introduce people to new music. Business students may find it interesting to note the different marketing strategies used.

Edinburgh and Records

Going along on the day is a great way to meet people and make friends with a shared interest in music, get to know some new music or begin a new hobby collecting vinyl or album artwork.
Click on the link below to find a list of Edinburgh independent record stores:
Edinburgh record stores.

We contacted local independent record stores to find out what they are doing for RSD. Here’s what the ones who replied told us:

Thorne Records  Will be open 8am-8pm and have beers, good vibes and all the releases.

Underground Solu’shn  Will be open from 8am and will have a selection of DJs and live performances in the afternoon. Will stock all the RSD releases.

Assai Records  Will be open from 8am and have most of the releases. Also hoping to have live music.

Whether it’s grunge or jazz, Britpop or hip hop we all have our go-to music to help with study, and chores or to listen to when socializing with friends. Listening to music can also have psychological benefits which can improve mental health. Click on the link below for more information:

Psychological benefits of music

Library Resources

In the library, we are promoting our Spotify playlist and in our relaxation spaces, we have posters explaining how listening to music benefits mental health and well-being.


Craiglockhart campus relaxation space has a small number of artist biographies available from Ozzy Osborne to Freddie Mercury.

You can use Library Search to find music books, music scores and CDs in the Edinburgh Napier collection.

By Vivienne Hamiliton

You can read more in our about World Music Day in this post

Image Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

International Haiku Poetry Day

International Haiku Poetry Day

Some say it captures the ephemeral beauty of nature. Some believe it to be the essence of a keenly-perceived moment. Others describe it as the blank shape between thoughts. But there is no official definition of the Japanese poetry form of haiku. I prefer poet Robert Spiess’s description of a “breath-length poem” in which two objects are juxtaposed “in a now-moment of awareness”.

What is a Haiku?

Haiku is taught in the west as the “five-seven-five” structure, containing 5 syllables in the first line, 7 in the second and 5 in the third. However, this is now considered to be a misunderstanding of the Japanese “onji” or units of sound which don’t necessarily correlate with western syllables. There’s no hard-and-fast rule regarding the number of syllables required to form haiku, but I think we can all agree that a good haiku is small but perfectly-formed.

Haiku developed in the first millennium A.D., and in the 17th century it was perfected by the poet now considered to be the master of the form, Matsuo Basho. Since then its popularity has spread across the globe; so much so that there is now an international foundation dedicated to promoting this most precious of art forms and containing the largest online repository of English-language haiku in the world.


Haiku and Scotland

Here in Edinburgh, we’re blessed in being the home location of the Scottish Poetry Library, the world’s leading resource for Scottish poetry.

Scottish Poetry Library

From their archives, you’ll find this haiku gem, by Scottish poet and author, Alan Spence:

that daft dog

                                                chasing the train

                                                then letting it go

April 17th is international haiku day. Why not have a go at writing one yourself? Or, if you prefer to enjoy the work of others, log into LibrarySearch and look up our many poetry collections. From the databases tab, you can access Literature Online. This fantastic resource includes a “poets on screen” library and a poetry archive audio collection.

Home Page – Literature Online – ProQuest

Happy haiku!

by Lesley McRobb

You can read about our celebration of World Poetry Day 

Scrabble Day

Scrabble Day

Little did unemployed architect Alfred Mosher Butts realise, as he set out to amuse himself during the Great Depression of 1938, that he was about to change the games world forever. As he sat at home carving out those little wooden letter tiles, his only thought was to keep himself and his wife amused with word games. Combining crossword puzzles and anagrams, he called his game Lexiko.

A decade on, James Brunot bought the rights, changed the name to Scrabble (from the verb to scratch frantically), sold it to department store Macy’s. And sent the game all over the world. To date, more than 150 million games of Scrabble have been bought. And it’s been translated into at least 29 languages, including Braille.

The 13th of April is National Scrabble Day (chosen to commemorate Butts’ birthday) and the Association of British Scrabble Players has arranged a series of tournaments throughout the next couple of months, including the Scottish Open on May 20th-21st. Find out more here:


Playing Scrabble

Of course, these days, there are a myriad ways to play Scrabble. You can play online, against a pal or a robot. You can take part in a tournament, or download the app and play by yourself. But we’re old-fashioned in our attitude to Scrabble and believe the best way to play is the way it’s always been played. With that foldy-up board, a pencil and paper for marking the score, and those fiddly little pale tiles.

That’s why we’ve got a box in our relaxation zone within Merchiston library. If you’re stressing before an exam, chilling after handing in a paper, or just taking some time out from your studies, pop in with a pal and crack open a game. Oh, and here’s a tip. If you want to notch up an incredible 1778 points, make sure you find a way to fit in oxyphebutazone – the highest-possible scoring word in Scrabble.

Let me leave you with this fun but useless factoid: a Z is only worth 1 point in Polish Scrabble.

You can read more game based posts like our one from last year, International Games Month

or you can play some games over on our virtual relaxation space

by Lesley McRobb

Photo source: UnSplash Clarissa Watson

Wild Animals of Scotland Update

Wild Animals of Scotland Update

Ospreys in 2023

Here is a wee wild animals of Scotland update. For those of you who have followed Scotland’s osprey visitors in previous years, we have some great news! NC0 and her mate LM12 have returned to Loch of the Lowes and have been getting the nest ready and it looks like there’s one egg so far. The webcam is live so you can follow the birds and hopefully their young over the summer months.


Not to be outdone by his Perthshire cousins Louis has returned to the Loch Arkaig nest in record time and is busy fishing and looking out for his mate Dorcha.

Hopefully, there will be plenty to see on the webcams over the summer!


Furthermore, in very exciting news the first-ever Scottish wildcat release has been approved. The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) will oversee the trial release of these endangered wildcats into the Cairngorms National Park. These beautiful creatures have become almost extinct. Years of habitat loss, persecution and hybridisation with domestic cats have brought the Scottish wildcat population to the brink of extinction. (source). Hopefully, this plan will help to save these “Highland Tigers”.


In addition, another animal that was successfully introduced was the Scottish beaver back in 2009 and things are going well with a growing population. Similarily to the Wildcats this began as a trial and has now seen the beaver population reach over one thousand.

Managing Ecosystems

The reintroduction and conservation of Wildlife, however, is a complicated matter, with many factors involved. You can read more on these subjects using Librarysearch.co.uk 

Read more on the Ospreys in earlier articles on them like this one: The Ospreys have returned

By Vivienne Hamilton


Photo by Jongsun Lee on Unsplash

Stress Awareness Month

  Stress awareness month

April is stress awareness month, its aim is to remind us of the importance of taking time to pause and understand what the purpose of stress is, our triggers, how it affects us physically and mentally, and the impact it has in our day-to-day lives. 

It began in April 1992 in response to the rising crisis that stress has caused in our society. It is designed to open up conversations about stress in our lives and remove some of the stigmas around talking about stress.

This Year

The month also allows us to look at the methods that can be applied to help us deal with stress and become more resilient. Furthermore, it asks us to take a holistic approach to stress looking at not only our minds but the health of our bodies also.

The 30 Day Challenge

This year Stress.org.uk is challenging people to pick one action each for their Physical, Mental and Emotional Well-being to carry out every day. This is based on the idea that it takes 30 days to create a new habit. For instance, Why not try taking the stairs instead of the lift, eat one extra vegetable with Dinner or make a little time each day to meditate. Check out their website for more ideas.

University Resources

Look out for various activities and events that may be happening in your workplace or online. You can visit your staff Internet’s Health & Wellbeing page to see what services are available.

For students, visit your University’s Wellbeing page, and see what they offer. This may include signposting you to other organizations.

Additionally, Students at Edinburgh Napier University can access the Student Wellbeing, Support and Inclusion page using the following link: Wellbeing Support and Inclusion

Or perhaps you would like to look at the various resources our library offers, by visiting the Libguide’s Wellbeing Collection page.

Why not check out our Virtual Relaxation Space for a wide range of activities to relax with.


Above all, The most important thing to take away is, you are not alone and there is help available.

Information related to stress can also be found on the NHS website and there is support available from many sources through the University Webpages.


Sharing ideas:

What do you do to relieve stress, let us know in the comments? 


How to reduce stress:


Breathing Exercises

Go for walks in nature

Spend time with loved ones


Playing games


By Mo Almas








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