Edinburgh Napier University

Month: October 2023 (Page 1 of 2)

A History of Halloween

A History of Halloween

Origins of Halloween

The origins of Halloween can be traced back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. Celebrated from around 2,000 years ago. Samhain is a festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. It is a time when the boundary between the living and the dead is believed to be at its thinnest. Celts would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts and other malevolent spirits that were thought to roam the earth during this time. The festival was an opportunity to honour ancestors and seek their guidance for the coming year.

With the spread of Christianity, the festival of Samhain was gradually incorporated into Christian traditions. In the 8th century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1st as All Saints’ Day, a day to honour saints and martyrs. This was followed by All Souls’ Day on November 2, a day to pray for the souls of the deceased. The Christian influence on Halloween led to the practice of trick-or-treating, which originated from the medieval practice of “souling,”. Where poor people would go door-to-door on All Souls’ Day, offering prayers for the dead in exchange for food.

Despite the Christian influence, many pagan traditions and beliefs associated with Samhain continued to be practised, particularly in Ireland and Scotland. Halloween was brought to the United States by Irish and Scottish immigrants in the 19th century. Today, Halloween is a popular holiday celebrated in many countries around the world, with various customs and traditions that reflect its diverse origins. The holiday has become a time for dressing up in costumes, carving pumpkins, and indulging in sweet treats.

Halloween Traditions

The holiday as it is celebrated in the West today has its own unique traditions that have developed over time. Celebrations often feature bobbing for apples, trick-or-treating, making Jack-o’-Lanterns, wearing spooky costumes  and telling scary stories

While some of these traditions have their roots in ancient practices, others have been adapted and evolved over time. For example, the tradition of bobbing for apples can be traced back to a Roman festival honouring Pomona, the goddess of agriculture and abundance. Similarly, the practice of carving pumpkins into Jack-o’-Lanterns has evolved from the original practice of carving turnips and other root vegetables. Personally, I would avoid trying to carve a turnip as it’s nearly impossible and takes forever!

Halloween Celebrations Around the World

Dia de los Muertos

Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a Mexican holiday that takes place on November 1st and 2nd. This festival is a time for families to remember and celebrate their loved ones who have passed away. It is believed that on these days, the souls of the departed return to the world of the living to be with their families. The holiday is marked by colourful parades, elaborate costumes, and offerings of food and drink for the deceased. While often compared to Halloween, Dia de los Muertos has its own unique traditions and cultural significance.

Guy Fawkes Night

Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Bonfire Night or Fireworks Night, is a British holiday that takes place on November 5th. You can read all about it in our article here. This holiday commemorates the failed attempt by Guy Fawkes and his associates to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605. The holiday is marked by bonfires, fireworks displays, and the burning of effigies of Guy Fawkes. While not directly related to Halloween, the holiday shares some similarities in terms of its focus on fire and celebration.

World Festivals

Halloween-like festivals are found in many other countries around the world. Furthermore, each has its own unique traditions and cultural significance. In Romania, for example, the Day of Dracula is celebrated on Halloween. It involves costume parties and reenactments of scenes from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. In Hong Kong, the Hungry Ghost Festival takes place in August and September. It involves offerings of food and drink to appease the spirits of the dead. While these festivals may share some similarities with Halloween, they are distinct celebrations that reflect the unique cultural traditions of their respective countries.

Want to learn more about spooky history? Why not check out our resources on Librarysearch.napier.ac.uk

By Juliet Kinsey

Image: Photo by David Menidrey on Unsplash

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Daylight Savings: The clocks are going back

Daylight Savings: The clocks are going back

Clocks going back 2023

Don’t forget that here in the UK the clocks go back one hour at 2am on Sunday 29th October. It means it will be darker in the evenings, and of course, winter will soon be upon us. Campus libraries will have normal opening hours until the Festive Break so you can access all our services as usual.

With longer evenings ahead you may want to settle down with some fiction. Did you know that Merchiston Library has a selection of novels which are available for loan? There are also lots of CDs there if you fancy listening to some different types of music from classical to rock. Also, Craiglockhart Library has foreign language textbooks and kits so you could have a go at learning a new language. All can be requested using Library Search.

We also offer Box of Broadcasts which gives access to lots of tv programmes and can be accessed through the database tab on Library Search. You can select programmes before broadcast or use the search bar to look for programmes which are already available. There are all kinds of things to watch from dramas and nature programmes to mental health and self-help programmes. Our autumn-themed recommendations are here:

If you have any questions about opening hours, our services or databases you can contact the library at library@napier.ac.uk or call us on 0131 455 3500 for assistance.

By Vivienne Hamilton

Read more useful information on our blog here.


Special Collections: Sassoon poem returns

Special Collections: Sassoon poem returns

An original Siegfried Sassoon poem returns to our special collections.

Last month, an original poem written by Siegfried Sassoon was donated to the War Poets Collections based at Edinburgh Napier University Craiglockhart Campus. It was written at that location, more than 100 years ago. Titled Glory of Women, it was given to fellow patient and poet Wilfred Owen in 1917. Since then the poem has gone through different owners but has now returned to Craiglockhart through the kind donation of Scottish Playwright Stewart Conn.

Our curator, Laura Cooijmans-Keizer, said of the poem “Glory of Women” is a poignant poem that demonstrates the conflicting pressures faced by men fighting in the trenches. The idealised expectations of glory and heroism that women at home, both in Britain and Germany, projected onto soldiers was often in direct competition with war’s stark, and often decidedly unheroic realities. The kind donation of this important manuscript poem by Siegfried Sassoon will offer a unique opportunity for it to be studied, appreciated, and debated at the place where it was first composed.”

We want to thank Stewart again for his generous donation.

Special Collections

It’s a significant addition to a collection that comprises more than 800 items. It is a permanent exhibition based at Craiglockhart campus. The collections gives ‘an insight into the personal and social experiences of war through the words, memories, voices and objects that the officers, medical staff and relatives left behind’. You can find out more information at the War Poet Collections and enquire about visiting.

You can read more of what our amazing Special Collections team are up to

Read more about the donation here

Read about previous War Poets Collections Posts 

By Maya Green


Better World Books

Better World Books

Do you ever wonder what happens to our books? Where do they go? What do we do to them?  *Mysterious music plays*. Well today, we are going to answer those questions. We are partnered with Better World Books. And we are proud of it.

Who are they?

They are an online American bookseller, and their books are usually donated from libraries and book drives.  They are ‘a for-profit socially minded business that collects and sells books online with each sale generating funds for literacy initiatives around the world’. It started at Notre Dame University in Indiana, US by former college students selling their old textbooks. It now has over 300 employees, working with over 1800 universities and colleges and 3000 library systems. They even have a warehouse at Dunfermline.

Why Better World Books?

The idea of Better World Books is we donate the books that we will no longer use and they will sell them. Profits from these sales go to Literacy funds. But what if the books don’t sell? It is very simple, they are either donated to literacy programmes, recycled or used for animal bedding.

Millions of books simply go to landfills and but through this, they make sure that doesn’t happen. So far they have donated over 35 million books, and raised over £28 million for literacy and libraries funds. As well as reuse or recycle over 450 million books. We are part of this scheme and proud to be.

This is why we chose them because our books never go to waste and they help great causes.

You can read more about them on their website

And you can read more about behind the scenes at the library here.

Apple Day: A Brief History of The Apple

Apple Day: A Brief History of The Apple

Okay, it was bad news for Snow White, but for most people, an apple a day keeps the doctor away. It must be because an apple’s high potassium and low sodium content promote heart health. Or maybe it’s because it regulates your blood sugar and provides anti-cancer protection with antioxidants like quercetin. Or maybe it’s because its fibre content helps to keep cholesterol levels low. Or perhaps it’s just the pleasure of biting into that sweet, juicy flesh.

The Brief History Bit

Apples originate in central Asia, probably Kazakhstan, and there are more than 7,000 varieties in the world. Here in Scotland, we can lay claim to around 40 varieties, but sadly you’ll find very few of those in the shops. Industrialisation and cheap imports have led to a steady decline in apple production in the UK since the 19th century.

To counter this decline, Common Ground, a charity based in Dorset, founded Apple Day in 1990.  Every 21st October, they encourage us to celebrate the importance of apples in our landscape, ecology and culture and highlight the dangers of losing our indigenous varieties.

The Orchard Project

The Orchard Project is a national charity dedicated to creating and restoring community orchards. You can find out more about them here:

The Orchard Project – Bringing orchards into the heart of urban communities

Here at Edinburgh Napier, our dedicated team of volunteers work hard on the Lions’ Gate project to enhance the biodiversity of our campuses and contributing to the University’s environmental sustainability strategy. As part of this strategy, they’ve planted an orchard at our Craiglockhart campus.  Why not visit it next time you’re on campus:

Gardens – The Lions’ Gate (napier.ac.uk)

You don’t have to wait until the 21st of October to celebrate apples. We recommend eating one a day. Our challenge to you is to source a different apple variety for every day of the year. Autumn is the perfect time to start. We’d love to hear how you get on.

By Lesley McRobb

Check out our blog post on the Lion’s Gate garden

IHS Markit platform and resources

IHS Markit platform and resources 

If you’re working or studying in the construction industry, the IHS Markit platform is an essential resource to finding information. The platform allows access to a wide range of materials including standards, regulatory, product and supplier information from various organisations around the world. IHS Markit contains a collection of databases including the Construction Information Service (CIS).  This is a major database for anyone working in architecture, civil and structural engineering, building control officers, building services engineers and other areas within the construction industry. With over 20,000 documents from over 300 publishers this is an important database packed full of essential sources.   

IHS Markit platform and LibrarySearch

Did you know that when you’re searching for sources in LibrarySearch your results don’t include items from the Construction Information Service or other IHS Markit products? You need to go into the specific database to do your searching and to access full text sources. The library has a subscription to the IHS Markit platform so don’t miss out on these great resources! Access is restricted to Edinburgh Napier University students and staff. Sign in to LibrarySearch, use the Databases tab to go to IHS Markit or Construction Information Service. You’ll then see links to two options: 

  • Construction Information Service 
  • Knowledge Workspace 

Just choose the one that you want and start searching for some great sources!  

IHS Markit platform

Using the Construction information Service will give you access to content that you just can’t get hold of anywhere else. As you’d expect with a good quality database like the Construction Information Service, there is a standard search box and an Advanced search interface too. A good tip is to use the filters to refine your results. And make them more relevant to your topic, there’s a good range of filters available.  

The Knowledge Workspace option includes Occupational Health and Safety, Environmental Management and Specify-It. With hundreds of thousands of documents available there’s a good range of filters available to help you refine and reduce your search results to find the content you need.    

To sum it all up, the IHS Markit platform, Knowledge Workspace and the Construction Information Service are essential places to go to find great sources relevant for anyone connected with the construction industry. Give them a try! If you have any feedback on it, send your comments to library@napier.ac.uk 

by Joyce Templeton

Explore the databases here

You can read more about our databases on previous posts

Library You Said We Did

Library You Said We Did

Here at the Library, we work hard to listen to your needs. We gather your thoughts from feedback, focus groups, stats and comments. This allows us to make our service bespoke to you! Check out the list below of You Said We Did actions:

  • LapSafe laptops were made accessible 
  • ID on mobile phones can now be used instead of a card to borrow laptops from LapSafe  
  • You need to scan only once 
  • The number of laptops increased (24) +12 Merchiston   
  • We have  purchased Over 100 Power with 300 additional sockets and USBs, to allow easier access to power in libraries 
  • 10 double screens now available at Craiglockhart
  • Craiglockhart All-in-one computers installed (34)  
  • Provided adjustable desk risers 
  • Provided ergonomic equipment 
  • Craiglockhart Macs in the silent room 
  • International power adaptors supplied 
  • Family room Craiglockhart initiated 
  • Book stock hours for Merchiston moved to be the same as Craiglockhart & Sighthill
  • Increased number of loans – 30 for students and staff 
  • Took away fines except for any recalled items 
  • Standardised the replacement cost of items 
  • Simplified language used if notifications 
  • Streamlined the Wellbeing LibGuide and renamed the collection making it more relevant to students 
  • Study room booking time increased 
  • Digitized requests are now OCR-readable 
  • Furthermore, All library web page links were checked for accessibility and amended as needed 

Check out everything the Library has to offer on our Webpages.

In addition, leave us more feedback here! We love hearing from you. Select a rating and then leave your comments.

Furthermore, read more on why we want feedback in this blog article.

Celebrating Black History Month while reconsidering the Curriculum

Celebrating Black History Month while reconsidering the Curriculum

October marks Black History Month (BHM) in the UK. Here at Edinburgh Napier Library, we don’t want to miss this opportunity to celebrate the event. After all, the diversity of the ENU student and staff community it’s an up-to-date reflection of how people with African and Caribbean backgrounds keep making our society richer.

This has been the main aim of BHM since it first started being considered in the UK in the late eighties. The celebration, which has evolved over the years, is now observed in all sorts of organizations: from museums to schools, or even care homes, the community honours the cause with exhibitions, arts and crafts, formal events, or local gatherings.

The theme selected for 2023 seems to be one of cross-field impact: “Black History Month 2023 – Celebrating our Sisters”, pays homage to black women whose contributions have been ignored, ideas appropriated, and voices silenced in the past.

The slogan itself transpires a sense of a tribe, or sisterhood, being celebrated.

Black Graduate woman blowing glitter

Photo by Marleena Garris on Unsplash

Decolonisation in the academic field

From a wider perspective, here in the Library, we are working to question the references and sources of information used to build our understanding of the World, Academia, and the Curriculum, much of which is based on colonial beginnings.

The word “Decolonisation”, is in open debate over the last few years, and refers mainly to the process of reviewing those references in an attempt to tackle unconscious biases and prejudices.

While the process of undoing colonizing practices in the educational context is long and wide, there are a few steps being taken at Edinburgh Napier University in that direction. The Library Team has prepared accordingly some material about “Building Inclusive Reading Lists”, to make this learning material as diverse as possible.

Also, there is on the way a Reading List, prepared by the Subject Librarian of the Business School, Keith Walker, which highlights the contribution of Black authors, the Windrush generation, essays on Race and Racism, and other related questions. We will post about it soon.

These small steps, against historical and current challenges like Racism or Discrimination, are just a humble beginning, but we thought that they are worth mentioning.  Furthermore, we wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate and cherish our Black students and work colleagues recognising their success, contributioand recognition in the present and in the future!

By Emi Pastor

Here are links to some of our resources

Building inclusive Reading Lists


Read earlier articles on Black History Month from the blog, such as this article.

Introducing Digimap

Introducing Digimap

Digimap is an online mapping and data delivery service available to UK academic subscribers. The Digimap platform provides access to online maps and spatial data from the Ordnance Survey, as well as the British Geological Survey, OpenStreetMap, and other sources.

At Edinburgh Napier University, we subscribe to OS Maps in various scales, as well as selected collections which focus on specific map types. Our collections are Environment, Historic, and Society.

Figure 1 [EDINA Digimap Society Collection. https://digimap.edina.ac.uk/society]


The Environment collection includes coverage of Land Cover data. It classifies sea and inland waters, urban areas, farmland, and more. It is particularly useful for students and researchers interested in conservation, environmental studies, and urban planning.


The Historic collection includes OS maps and County Series maps going back to 1846. Explore how urban and rural spaces have changed over the centuries and discover the history of town planning in the UK.


The Society collection is an important resource for anyone interested in studying contemporary society in the UK. The maps include data from the 2011 Census. The data is available in over 40 map layers and provides an innovative way of visualising demographic information.

How to use

Digimap is a great tool to experiment with analysing information and creating new projects. Why not have a go at viewing habitat information, downloading data for 3D designing using GIS, or comparing urban development across historical maps.

  • Use the ‘Roam’ feature to view, customise, and download maps.
  • Download map data to use with software such as GIS or CAD.
  • Import your own research data to add to maps.

For more guidance, take a look at the tutorial videos on the Digimap YouTube channel.

How to access

Digimap and selected collections are free to use through the University subscription.

To access Digimap, log in with your ENU username and password. You will need to register your details with Digimap and accept the license agreements for each collection. You will then be prompted to verify your email.

By Catriona Robertson

Why not check out our post on the AM Explorer Database

Uncovering Hidden Histories: Provenance research internships in the Edward Clark Collection

Uncovering Hidden Histories: Provenance research internships in the Edward Clark Collection 


During July, the University’s Heritage Collections department hosted two student interns whose intrepid research skills greatly helped us to find information about past owners, donors and custodians of the rare books held within the Edward Clark Collection. Here, Natalie Quinn (MSc in Publishing) talks about their experience of their internship.

My Experience as a Special Collections Intern

You might think that completing an internship, alongside writing a 15,000-word Master’s dissertation and working a part-time job, sounds like a crazy idea. You would be right. However, when I saw the opportunity to work with the library’s special collections department to identify provenance marks in books in the Edward Clark Collection, I just couldn’t let that pass me by. Earlier this year, I volunteered at a charity shop to help with the sorting, pricing, and shelving of books. This experience ignited my interest in the journeys that books go on as they pass between owners, and the notes left inside that tell us more about their histories. Therefore, I was immediately attracted to this internship and couldn’t wait to see which little remnants of history I would uncover.

Uncovering Hidden Histories: Provenance research internships in the Edward Clark Collection  Book image

[Figure 1: Inscription reading “Henry E. Napier to Lady Augusta Fox, Florence, Sept[embe]r 17th, 1838. ‘Pochi compagni avrai pepl’altra via; Tanto ti prego piu, gentile spirto, non lafear la magnanima tua impresa.’” (ECC E51).]

This internship has involved me going through many of the books in the Edward Clark Collection, from enormous tomes to the tiniest volumes, and looking at every page to record any evidence of where the book came from and who may have owned it. From something as inconsequential as a leaf pressed between the pages to bookplates and inscriptions bearing the names and dates of the books’ previous owners, these books had so much to reveal. My focus was on books from the nineteenth century, an era in which I am particularly interested, and I really appreciated how I was able to tailor the internship to my own curiosities.

Uncovering Hidden Histories: Provenance research internships in the Edward Clark Collection Book image

[Figure 2: Inscription reading “J.W. Frampton, from his affectionate father, August 12th 1859” (ECC E68).]


I have gained so much from this internship, from learning that small drawings of hands with a finger pointing to the text, called manicules, were used for centuries in the same way we might use a highlighter to draw attention to important text, to discovering that a different calendar was used in France for twelve years following the French revolution. The latter I discovered from the one word I was able to decipher from a French letter stuck in the back of a book, the owner of which I later uncovered was in Brussels during the Battle of Waterloo and recorded his experiences in his journal.

Uncovering Hidden Histories: Provenance research internships in the Edward Clark Collection

[Figure 3: Letter pasted in the back of the book entitled Napoléon en Prusse: poème épique en douze chants (ECC E3).]

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