Edinburgh Napier University

Category: History (Page 1 of 2)

Bike Week 2022: On yer bike!

Bike Week 2022: On yer bike!

No disrespect to Giovanni Fontana. I’m sure he meant well, but that bike he designed way back in 1418 really wasn’t practical.  For a start, it had 4 wheels and its gears were connected by rope. Still, he was on to something, and a mere 400 years later German baron, Karl von Drais, invented what is regarded as the first modern bicycle – or the steerable running machine as he called it. So what if it didn’t have pedals and the rider had to push it along the ground with his feet? It was the big bang of cycling – the realisation that mechanized personal transportation was a thing, and that thing was here to stay.

Not long afterwards the first pedal-driven bicycle with rear wheel drive was invented by a Scotsman – yay! He was either Kirkpatrick MacMillan or Thomas McCall. It’s been disputed since the 1860s – and that’s when cycling really started to, erm, motor.

Today, of course, bike technology is so advanced that there is a type and model for every type of cyclist, whether you’re into racing, mountain-biking, recreational weekend tootling, getting to work or just nipping down to the shops. And of course, cycling is not just a convenient way to get around, it’s healthy and good for the environment too.

According to charity, Cycling UK, British cyclists notched up 5.03 billion miles in 2020, and the trend is going up by an average of 3 billion every year.  We’re still lagging well behind our European neighbours, though.  Out of 28 countries surveyed, the UK came 25th for cycling.  So let’s all get saddled up and bump up those statistics.

Bike Week 2022

This month the national Bike Week takes place from the 6th to the 12th. To see how you can get involved, see here:

Bike Week 2022 | Cycling UK

And for more local information, check out: Edinburgh Festival of Cycling | Cycling UK

We at Edinburgh Napier are keen to promote safe cycling in and around the city.  To see what resources are available and how we can encourage you to get on your bike, please see here:

Cycling (napier.ac.uk)

By Lesley McRobb

Exercise is a great way to practise self care and get fit. For more ideas why not check out some of the books here.

The Edward Clark Collection

Hidden treasures: The Edward Clark Collection

The Edward Clark Collection, housed in the library at the Merchiston campus, is not as well-known as it should be. It is one of the only two surviving examples of what was once a widespread phenomenon in Britain: printers’ libraries. The other survivor is St Brides Library in London.

The Edward Clark Collection consists of around 5,000 items illustrating the development of the book from the 15th century. More specifically, it concentrates on the development of typography, the techniques of printing illustrations, and fine bindings. The collection is located within the Campus Library at the University’s Merchiston Campus.

Printers’ Libraries

The first Edinburgh printers’ library was established in 1858. The technical and reference collections continued to be used up until the end of the 19th century, afterwich it is not clear what happened to them. Formal educational requirements for printing apprentices were established after World War I. The Clark Collection was put together as a teaching resource, mainly in the 1930s, to illustrate printing technologies, type design and book production from the 15th century to the present day. As well as the treasures highlighted on the Collection website it is a treasure trove for the historian of print.

Over the last 2 years, whenever access was possible, I have consulted type specimens, trade journals, company histories, technical manuals and books about print production and the design and making of books. These included James Watson’s History of Printing in Scotland (1713), Caleb Stower’s Printer’s Grammar (1808) and T.C. Hansard’s Typographia (1825), and looked again at a long-standing favourite of mine – John McCreery’s poem The Press, printed in Liverpool as a type specimen in 1802.

It is a privilege to work with this collection, and I am very grateful to all the library staff who have made this possible.

Dr Helen S Williams

Honorary Edward Clark Fellow

h.williams@napier.ac.uk

Unusual Libraries from the UK

Image Source

University libraries tend to be large spaces with shelves with thousands of books, computers and study spaces. Students are used to and expect to have these facilities. You may also use public libraries which may not be as big, but still house a huge variety of books and other resources, but not all libraries are the same……

Here are two Unusual Libraries from the UK

Bethnal Green tube station library

When war broke out in 1939 Bethnal Green Underground station was partly completed, and work was halted. In late 1940 it was decided that as the works were far enough ahead it could be used as a safe shelter for the public during air raids. Over a period of months, the station was transformed to house enough bunks to sleep up to 5000 people, a café, theatre and a nursery. This community 78 feet underground also gained a library in 1941-Britain’s only tube station library.

In September 1940 a bomb had fallen on the roof of Bethnal Green Public Library causing vast destruction to the adult learning library. Librarian George F. Vale and his deputy Stanley Snaith pulled a tarpaulin over the shattered glass dome roof and vowed to bring a library to the underground community. The council approved a grant of £50 and a library was created over the boarded-up tracks of the westbound tunnel. Stanley Snaith wrote “All last summer the caverns echoed to the din of hammers and saws. The result was a triumph.” Later in the Library Review 1942, he wrote “Libraries in converted shops, in village halls, in mobile vans are common enough. But libraries in tube shelters are something new under the sun.”

The tiny library measured 15 feet square and opened from 5.30-8pm every evening. It housed 4000 titles that had survived the bombing of the main library. Romances, classics, poetry and children’s books could be borrowed and help the residents to escape from the horrors happening above ground. Snaith wrote of his patrons, “Each dusk sees the first contingent making its way down to the bowels of the earth. The well and the ill, the old and the young, they come trooping down… In the library the youngsters are vocally busy with their book selection, but why should they not chatter to their heart’s content.” Now the “youngsters” are in their 90’s, but they still have fond memories of the tube station library. Pat Spicer, now 92 said, “You can’t imagine what that library represented to me as a place of safety. It sparked a lifelong love of reading.”

As the war dragged on many would have been anxious about what the future held, but in October Bethnal Green Library celebrates its centenary and tube trains still come and go from Bethnal Green station.

Phone box libraries 

Across the UK many redundant old red phone boxes have found a new use as micro libraries. This is often in rural areas which have been affected by cuts to spending on public libraries due to cuts in local council funding. The idea is simple-anyone can take a book home, but they are expected to bring it back or bring a replacement.

The first phone box library was set up in 2009 in Westbury-Sub-Mendip following cuts to the mobile library funding. The parish council purchased the box for £1 and locals put up wooden shelves and donated books.

These micro libraries operate on a system of trust and house a large range of titles from cookery books to classics and children’s books. In villages where everyone knows everyone, the system works well, but in some cities, micro libraries have been vandalised and the local community has had to fund and carry out repairs.

These are just 2 examples of libraries in unusual places. If you would like to find out about some other unusual libraries click on the links below:

The Worlds Oddest Libraries

Donkey Libraries of Columbia

ReadingClub2000

Also, check out our amazing article on

Wilderness Libraries of edamalakudi

 

By Vivienne Hamilton

St. Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all our Irish students and staff.

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on 17th March. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, but there are parades and parties worldwide due to the large numbers of people with Irish heritage spread across the world.

dog in st patricks day hat

Source

History of St.Patrick’s Day

Although there are no exact dates of his birth, it is believed that Patrick was born in the Roman-occupied north of England. and that he died on 17th March. His autobiographical work “Confessio” claims that when he was around 16, Patrick was taken from his home in Britain by Irish pirates who took him to Ireland as a slave. There he looked after animals for around six years and converted to Christianity. He fled captivity after hearing a voice telling him he would soon go home. He found passage on a ship and after several days walking he returned home. Following his return, Patrick studied Christianity in Europe-mostly in Auxerre, France and was ordained into the priesthood there. He later returned to Ireland as a missionary, and by the 7th century was already revered as the patron saint of Ireland.

The Irish Potato Famine

There are many people throughout the world with Irish ancestors due to the large numbers who emigrated because of the Irish Potato Famine. It started in 1845 when a fungus ruined around 75% of the annual potato crop, which most of the population relied on for food. Around one million Irish died before the end of the famine in 1852. Another million emigrated to countries such as Great Britain or the United States, and therefore you will find St. Patrick’s Day celebrated in many countries worldwide.

Celebrations

Today descendants of the immigrants celebrate their Irish heritage dressing up in colourful clothing in green and gold (the colours of the Irish flag), joining parades of pipe bands, cheerleaders, and floats. One of the biggest parades outside Ireland is in New York which held its first parade in 1762. This was a time when the wearing of green was a sign of Irish pride but was banned in Ireland. The parade gave participants the freedom to speak Irish, wear green, sing Irish songs and play the pipes to Irish tunes that were meaningful to the Irish immigrants of that time.

Aside from parades, many pubs and restaurants host events with live music and singing, and you shouldn’t have to look too hard to find one in Edinburgh!

By Vivienne Hamilton

Read more on world festivals and traditions with our articles:

Chinese New Year

Scottish Traditions: Burn’s Night

The Ethiopia Timkat Festival,

New Year Traditions from Around the World

Also, don’t forget you can find out more about everything mentioned in this article at Librarysearch.napier.ac.uk

 

 

Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day

“Imagine a gender equal world.

A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination.

A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

A world where difference is valued and celebrated.

Together we can forge women’s equality.

Collectively we can all” #BreakTheBias.

(Source: https://www.internationalwomensday.com/)

History of International Women’s Day

It’s International Women’s Day! A global celebration of the economic, political and social achievements of women. It took place officially for the first time on March 8, 1911 in Denmark, Austria, Germany and Switzerland (Source). Coinciding with the female suffragette movement at the time.

The United Nations started sponsoring International Women’s day in 1975 and the United Nations General Assembly stated it was…‘To recognize the fact that securing peace and social progress and the full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms require the active participation, equality and development of women; and to acknowledge the contribution of women to the strengthening of international peace and security (Source)

March has since become the celebratory month of women’s contributions to history, science, culture and society. It started off as a week celebrated in California and eventually became a celebratory month recognised globally. The 1960s saw an increase in feminism movements which brought more attention to achievements and contributions made by women throughout history.

Break the Bias

This year’s theme is “Break the Bias”. It is asking us to stand up to the bias we see in the world and to take action! Read more on International Women’s Day at www.internationalwomensday.com/

Here at Edinburgh Napier University, there will be a number of activities taking place to show our support. We have an event on Women Working in Films & TV, this is an opportunity to network and to hear from a panel of experts in this field. The event takes place on Tuesday 8 March 2022, from 5.30pm to 7.30pm in the Glassroom at our Merchiston campus. More info here.

The ENU Women’s Network is inviting colleagues, irrespective of gender identity, to join them as they build on the network over the coming months. You can learn more and get involved here.

Further Reading

Want to know more about some amazing Scottish Women who have made incredible contributions, read our article Wonder Women of Scotland. Also, check out our other articles on Women’s History and Women in Science :

Women in Science

Women’s History

Women in Engineering

 

By Maya Green and Juliet Kinsey

Celebrating LGBT+ History Month: Alan Turing

Alan Turing

To celebrate LGBT+ History Month, the library, in collaboration with Maths Plus, is looking at one of the many figures of the LGBT+ community who changed history. Alan Turing.

Alan Turing is one of the leading mathematicians of the 20th Century. He was a British mathematician and logician who has made major contributions to mathematics, cryptanalysis, logic, philosophy, and mathematical biology. He is responsible for breaking the Nazi Enigma code, helping win World War Two. Furthermore, his work would lead to the creation of the modern computer, and also creating visions for artificial intelligence. His most famous work is the paper published in1950 asking “can machines think?”.

In 1952, Turing was convicted of gross indecency under Section11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885. As homosexuality between men was still a criminal offence at this time. Subsequently, he sadly took his own life not long after in1954. It wasn’t until 2009 that the British Government apologised for his treatment with then Primer Minister Gordon Brown saying, “You deserved so much better”. He was pardoned in 2013.

Genius, heroism, self-sacrifice: Alan Turing lived up to some of life’s highest virtues in serving his country, only for the British government to throw him under the bus due to contemporary attitudes about who it was okay to love. Turing’s story is a reminder that “being on the right side of history is about more than just winning a war. It means living up to the values we claim to defend” Source: radicalteatowel.co.uk

Maths Resources

Maths Plus sessions are held at Merchiston Library Monday-Thursday 2pm-4pm in Zone 2

LGBT+ Resources

For more information on how the Library is supporting the  LGBT+ community, and for links to resources check out this article.

By Maya Green

Chinese New Year

For Chinese New Year, it is the year of the Tiger and one of the most important celebrations!

 

It celebrates the beginning of a new year also known as the Lunar Year from the 1st of February to the 15th of February. The holiday is called the Lunar Year because the dates follow the phases of the moon. Chinese New Year originates from around 3,500 years ago. Legend has it a monster named Nian (meaning Year), would attack villagers, livestock, and crops on the eve of new year. However, it would be afraid of loud noises, lights, crackled bamboo and red (often associated with danger), which were used to chase the monster away!

 

As the year ends and a new one begins, it is said to bring luck and prosperity by celebrating with feasts, decorations, firecrackers, fireworks, dragons, and red envelopes. It is quite an elaborate display spent with friends and family. Other traditions include cleaning the home to rid of any bad luck or spirit.

 

Confectionery

Confectionery

 

The last event of Chinese New Year is the lantern festival where people hang or carry glowing lanterns during an evening parade. A vivid and decorative dragon associated with luck is usually carried by dancers through the streets.

 

 

Lanterns

Lanterns

 

12 zodiac animals represent each year in the repeated zodiac cycle of 12 years, such as the Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. As it is the year of the Tiger, this animal symbolises bravery and strength! People born in the years of the Tiger are 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010 and 2022.

 

The Year of the Tiger

The Year of the Tiger

 

 

You can find past news on Chinese New Year at Edinburgh Napier, like the year of the Ox in 2021:

https://www.napier.ac.uk/alumni/alumni-news/latest-news/lny-2021

 

There is also the travel guide below to find more information about Chinese New Year and the Tiger zodiac:

https://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/special-report/chinese-new-year/

 

Other links include:

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Chinese-New-Year https://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/festivals/chinese-new-year-history.htm

 

Edinburgh Napier University Library wishes you all a wonderful Chinese New Year!

Lego Day

Celebrating Lego Day

It’s world Lego day today. Lego is one of those toys that is ubiquitous with childhood. Anyone growing up in the West will know immediately what you mean when you mention it. It is the joy of Children everywhere, and the thing that drives most parents mad. Is there anything more painful to stand on!?!

In fact, people who have regularly experienced walking on hot coals and broken glass say Lego is by far the worst thing to walk on (source). Feeling brave? You always have a go at the Lego Firewalk. Personally, I’d rather walk on glass or coals!

History

It was in Denmark, at Ole Kirk Christiansen’s workshop where Lego was firstborn. In 1934 it became called Lego after the Danish phrase leg godt.  They were originally called Automatic Binding Bricks, but less originally they were based on the Kiddicraft Self-Locking Bricks, already patented in the UK.

Over time Lego has grown to become the biggest toy company in the world and is not only used as toys but as movies, artworks and they even made an amusement park you can visit.

Mindfulness

Lego is no longer just for children; in fact, they have many Lego sets dedicated to adults. There is some fascinating research connected to mindfulness about how doing Lego can help our mental health. We actually keep a Lego set behind each Library Help Desk you can borrow for free. Why not check one out next time you visit…if the library staff aren’t already playing with them that is!

Learn More

We have a fascinating and diverse range of materials for you to read on Lego, from issues with Dentistry (teeth and Lego are a bad mix it seems!) to build your own Lego Robots. Check out Librarysearch.napier.ac.uk.. Just type in the word “Lego” and start reading!

By Juliet Kinsey

Sources: Wikipedia

Scottish Traditions: Burn’s Night

Burns Night

Burns Night is a traditional celebration of Scotland’s national bard, or poet, Robert Burns. It is held on 25th January, Burns’s birthday, when Burns suppers are held. They consist of a meal, poetry recitals and songs. The first supper was held at Burns Cottage by his friends on 21st July 1801, the fifth anniversary of his death.

If you think that you don’t know any of Burns’s work, ask yourself if you have ever sung Auld Lang Syne on Hogmanay/New Year’s Eve or used the lines “My love is like a red, red rose” on a Valentine card. If you have then you are familiar with some of his best-known work. Burns wrote his first poem aged 15 and in his short life wrote a vast number of songs and poems that can be accessed here. He wrote in a light Scots dialect which was easier for those outside Scotland to understand and often wrote about very humble subjects, for example, his poem “To a Mouse” is inspired by the field mice Burns saw while ploughing on his farm.

The Life of Robert Burns

Burns was born on 25th January 1759 in Alloway south of Ayr, the son of poor tenant farmers. He received little regular schooling, but his father taught him to read and write along with arithmetic, history and geography. He was also taught Latin, French and maths by John Murdoch.

For much of his life Burns, like his father, was a tenant farmer, all the while writing poetry and songs. But he struggled to make a living from farming and when he was offered a position on a plantation in Jamaica, he decided to emigrate. He could not afford the passage and a friend suggested he try to publish some of his work to raise the funds. In 1786 Poems in the Scottish Dialect was published and became an immediate success. Later that year Burns left for Edinburgh to publish a second edition which again was successful and earned him a substantial sum of money. He was well received in Edinburgh, often a guest of aristocracy, and made many friends, some becoming sponsors.

In 1787 Burns returned to southwest Scotland taking a lease on a farm in Dumfriesshire, but he also trained as an exciseman in case the farm was unsuccessful. He gave up farming in 1791 and moved to Dumfries where he made contributions to several volumes of songs, sometimes adding his own lyrics to traditional folk melodies and composing his own melodies from fragments of tunes. He continued to write poetry too, some advocating reform such as “The Slaves Lament”.

He continued to work as an exciseman, often making long journeys on horseback in all weathers and this may have contributed to his ill-health at a rather young age for the time. On 21st July 1796 Burns died aged just 37.  His body lies in the Burns Mausoleum is St. Michael’s Kirkyard, Dumfries along with that of his wife at the time, Jean Armour.

Burns is renowned for having had many romantic relationships which resulted in several children being born, although not all survived infancy. Today over 900 people worldwide claim to be descendants of Burns.

Host your own Burns Night

Due to covid-19 restrictions, many Burn’s suppers will be cancelled this year, but you could host your own with your household.

Need some inspiration to host your own Burns Supper? Why not try out some Burns Night recipes here. Penguin books have a guide on how to run your night and for inspiration, you can listen to or read some of Burns’s work through our Library.

By Vivienne Hamilton

Learn about other World traditions on our blog by reading:

New Year Traditions from Around the World

Spanish Christmas Traditions

The Ethiopia Timkat Festival

The Timkat Festival

Christmas is a distant memory for most of us, but for Ethiopians, Christmas is a whole season that’s just coming to an end now. Ethiopia was one of the first countries in the world to adopt Christianity, and as such it adheres to the ancient traditions that sit at the heart of its Orthodox Tewahedo Church. Timkat, celebrated every year on the 19th of January, is one of those traditions, possibly the most important in the Church’s calendar.

The Amharic word timkat means “baptism”, and the festival marks the baptism of Christ in the River Jordan.

Preparations

Timkat is a huge deal and a seriously religious festival. Preparations for this spectacular event, possibly one of the biggest and most colourful on the African continent, begin on the 18th, when “tabots” – models of the  Ark of the Covenant – are wrapped in fine cloths and carried on the heads of priests down to the river or other place of worship. Local people don white shawls – Ethiopians wear white when they go to church – and follow the procession.

The Festival

Mass starts in the early hours of the 19th and continues for hours. When Mass is over, the water is blessed and the congregants take to the rivers, submerging themselves in a re-enactment of Christ’s baptism. Of course, it’s a happy occasion and that means the celebrations go on all day and are accompanied by feasting and music.  As well as eating their favourite Timkat food, Ethiopians celebrate important occasions with elaborate coffee ceremonies.

On the 20th, the tabots are carried back to the churches in another procession that marks the end of the festival.

One of the best places to observe Timkat is the town of Gondar, home to the 17th century castle built by King Fasilides. In the grounds of the castle is a huge open-air bath. The bath is usually empty, but during Timkat it’s filled with water and the locals dive in. A few years ago I was fortunate enough to visit Ethiopia over the festive season. I missed Timkat by a couple of weeks. When I visited King Fasilides castle it was empty. Next time I go, I’m definitely going for Timkat, and I’m taking my swimming costume.

Want to learn more about other traditions from around the world? Read our article here.

By Lesley McRobb

« Older posts

© 2022 The Library Blog

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑

%d bloggers like this: