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What the Librarians are reading: Books we recommend!

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What the librarians are reading: Books we recommend! Part 1

Stumped for your next read? Curious what the book professionals are reading? Look no further!  Here’s a peek into what the staff here at Edinburgh Napier University Library (ENULibrary) have been reading over the last year.

Check out recommended books from all genres and Interests (we are a diverse lot!) Some are available right here at the Library, but for the books we don’t have, why not try your local library? Edinburgh City Libraries have a huge selection of books and we love supporting them.

The Book Reviews


Malcolm

tiny habits book cover“Tiny Habits” by B.J. Fogg.

“Recommended at a financial health webinar, and I read it over Xmas.  A great way to self-change behaviour is by breaking down desired changes in multiple areas into very tiny habits, which are much more easily achieved than big changes.  Prompt such habits by linking them to existing parts of your life, and celebrate when you successfully do them…it all helps to rewire them effectively into your brain.  Easy to read and to get started with. Recommended!”

 

story of tea book cover

“The Story of Tea: a cultural history and drinking guide” by M.L. Heiss and R.J. Heiss.

“All you need to know about teas of the world…production, history, and how to brew them. Lots of pictures. Say goodbye to teabags. Perfect for the Tea-head in your life!”

 

 


Emi

Chernobyl book cover“Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy” by Serhii Plokhy

“A very interesting and detailed insight about the 1986 disaster and its aftermath. The events are recreated by Ukrainian Professor Serhii Plokhy with detail and accuracy. At the same time, it’s quite interesting to read because the author tells the stories of the firefighters, scientists, engineers, workers, soldiers, politicians, and policemen who found themselves caught there and shows a lot about the nature of the Soviet political system and the flaws of its nuclear industry. As some reviews say, you can read it ” like a good thriller” and I found its less upsetting and disturbing than the recent TV show.”

You can borrow this one from us! Check out LibrarySearch

 

Pandoras Jar book coverPandora’s JarWomen in the Greek Myths by Natalie Haynes.

“It’s a must for those who, like me, love Greek myths. An enlightening essay about how women have been hidden, belittled or directly condemned in those myths retold many times.  The women’s narrative and its complexity have been misinterpreted through History and also Art, so I

enjoyed a lot reading about characters like Pandora, Medusa, and Medea and how they were not as virtuous or monstrous as they have been pictured (normally by men!).”

 


Maria

Study with me book cover“Study with me: effective bullet journaling techniques, habits, and hacks to be successful, productive, and organized” Shao, Jasmin andJagan, Alyssa

“I enjoyed it because I have only recently started bullet journaling and this book gives a good overview of the practical/organisational aspects of how to do it, and also guidance on how to make your journal more creative and interesting.

For anyone who hasn’t heard of bullet journaling before it is a customisable diary/planner that be as simple or complex as you choose to make it!”

You can read this book here, through the Library.


We will have another instalment soon of “What the Librarians are reading” so check back to the blog regularly.

Want some more suggestions right now? Check out our earlier post of book recommendations here!

Unusual Libraries from the UK

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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

🏳️‍🌈LGBT+ History Month 🏳️‍🌈

Celebrating LGBT+ History Month

February is the month we celebrate LGBT+ History here in the UK. It is a month-long celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and non-binary history, including the history of LGBT+ rights and related civil rights movements. In the United Kingdom, we celebrate it in February to coincide with the 2003 abolition of Section 28.

What we are doing

Here at the Library, we think it is incredibly important to support and promote equality and diversity. Furthermore, we are working hard to create more inclusive collections and to support our LGBT+ users and staff. For example, we are currently creating a permanent LGBT+ virtual bookshelf here on our blog, and we are training our staff to be inclusive in their actions and the language they use.

Resources

If you are an LGBT+ student you can join Edinburgh Napier’s LGBT+ Society.   You can also find out more about the student LGBT+ community on the Queer Napier site. Staff can join the University’s thriving LGBT+ Network or you can visit our web pages to learn more about becoming an ally.

In addition, The Library has a wealth of books and articles on the subject. From the history of LGBT+ rights to current Legal information to keep you informed. Use LibrarySearch to find what you are looking for, or contact us for help with any of your research needs. 

Here are some items available through the Library to get you started: 

Same-sex, different politics: success and failure in the struggles over gay rights

Lgbt Activism and the Making of Europe A Rainbow Europe  

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people (LGBT) and the criminal justice system

Equality

Pride Parades and LGBT Movements: Political Participation in an International Comparative Perspective

Similarly, want to know more about Pride Month?  Check out our article here.

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

New Year Traditions from Around the World

World New Year Traditions

A lump of coal just won’t cut it anymore. I need a more carbon-neutral gift to take to my neighbours at New Year, and you don’t get much more carbon-laden than a lump of coal. I started to wonder if there were any tips I could pick up from revellers around the world. My research didn’t offer up any gifts, but I did find some interesting traditions – some quite quirky – that I may adopt.

Japan

Let’s start in the land of the rising sun.  Joya-no-kane is the ancient Japanese tradition of ringing temple bells. The bell is typically rung 107 times on 31st December and once more when the clock strikes midnight. According to Buddhist philosophy, 108 is a holy number, representing as it does the 108 material desires that humans experience throughout the course of their lives. When the bell is struck for the 108th time, it is believed it rings away the problems and worries from the previous year. Many temples attract huge crowds of worshippers on these occasions. The Chion-in temple in Kyoto and Nara’s Todaiji temple are famous for their gigantic bells, the ringing of which requires the efforts of more than a dozen monks.

Brazil

Down in Brazil a rowdier, yet no less spiritual tradition, is unfolding as the goddess Iemanjá, Queen of the Ocean, rises out of the sea in Rio de Janeiro (in the form of a human representative). Revellers flock to the beach as fireworks explode overhead and samba music fills the air. Up to 2 million people, typically wearing white as a sign of peace, place white flowers and floating candles on the shore and send them out as offerings to the goddess, hoping that she’ll grant their wishes in the new year.  But beware – if your offer is washed back to you, Iemanjá is not pleased and may not grant your wish.

Costa Rica

Moving north, and those Costa Ricans really know how to celebrate. You’re welcome to join in as they feast all night and party on the beach. Make sure you dress for the occasion, though – and that means wearing yellow underwear for good luck. Oh, and don’t forget to throw a pan of water – containing all your worries – over your shoulder. The most endearing Costa Rican tradition, in my opinion, is the practice of taking a suitcase for a walk around the neighbourhood to ensure plenty of travel opportunities in the year to come. In these Covid-restricted times, however, it may be best to park the suitcase for the time being. Maybe next year!

Greece

Back in Europe, and the Greeks take a belts-and-braces approach to luck – letting out the bad and welcoming in the good. It’s customary for Greeks to hang an onion on their front doors as a sign of prosperity and regrowth. And on the stroke of midnight, Greeks open all their windows to release those pesky evil spirits, the kallikantzaroi. Try doing that during a Scottish Hogmanay hoolie!

Scotland

Speaking of Scotland. Here we celebrate New Year’s in a big way. The Scots call New Year Hogmanay and it’s used as an excuse for big parties such as Ceilidhs, usually involving large amounts of traditional Scottish food and drink. Once Midnight arrives it is traditional to sing Robert Burns‘ “Auld Lang Syne” whilst holding hands in a circle.

Another Scottish tradition still common is “First footing”. This involves being the first person over the threshold of another’s home bringing a symbolic gift for good luck. If you are being truly traditional it should be a dark-haired male, and he should bring with him symbolic pieces of coal, shortbread, salt, black bun and a wee dram of whisky. The dark-haired male bit is believed to be a throwback to the Viking days, when a big blonde stranger arriving on your doorstep with a big axe meant big trouble, and probably not a very happy New Year! (source)

Denmark

But it’s those northerners, the Danes, who have a really smashing tradition. On New Year’s eve in Denmark, it’s time to gather up all your old broken and chipped crockery and smash it against your friends’ doors. They claim it’s a sign of lifelong friendship, and who am I to argue? After all that exertion, you reward yourself with a slice of kransekage, a huge cake made of layered marzipan. Pity there’s no plate left to serve it on.

However you celebrate, wherever you are, we wish you a very happy New Year, Akemashite Omedetou, Feliz Ano Novo, Feliz Año Nuevo, ευτυχισμένος ο καινούριος χρόνος, Godt Nytår.

By Lesley McRob

Read more about New Year on our blog with our articles on Spanish traditions and New Year’s resolutions

Staying on Campus over Christmas?

Christmas is a period of relaxation and spending time with family and friends. However, some students may be staying on campus over Christmas due to living far away and this can be an opportunity to explore festive activities or take some time to relax.

There are advantages to staying on campus over Christmas like having more space, peace, and quiet! The library even has Ebooks to get you in the mood for Christmas for example the classic, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Activities include the Christmas Market, Edinburgh Napier University’s Carol Service, and Hogmanay 2022. There is even a Christmas Tree Maze you can get lost in and the Santa Fun Run & Walk at Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh is open to registration to help fundraise for Children in Scotland who live with threatening illnesses:

Edinburgh Christmas Market

Edinburgh Christmas Market

https://www.whenyouwishuponastar.org.uk/events/2021-12-05-edinburgh-santa-fun-run-walk-2021

https://www.edinburghschristmas.com/

https://www.napier.ac.uk/about-us/term-dates/christmas-arrangements/whats-on-in-edinburgh

https://www.edinburghshogmanay.com/

 

Perhaps you may want to visit and check-in with your friends, which also opens opportunities to explore more of the United Kingdom. Or even hike the wonderful mountains and hills of the Scottish Highlands, where you may even find patches of Snow- the Cairngorm Mountain near Aviemore is best known for Skiing and Snowboarding in Scotland!

 

Snowy mountain Highlands

Snowy mountain Highlands

 

The University is here if you need a little extra support over the holidays:

https://www.napier.ac.uk/study-with-us/undergraduate/student-support

Support and Wellbeing Over The Exam Period

During exam time, it’s important to look after yourself physically, mentally and emotionally. The library is here to support you and your wellbeing over the exam period.

Relaxation Spaces

Each campus library has a relaxation space where you can take a break and relax on comfy furniture or try a mindful activity like colouring or doing a jigsaw puzzle. Check out our virtual relaxation space here on the Library Blog for some excellent wellbeing resources.

Shelf Help

We also have Shelf Help which is a collection of resources aimed at supporting your wellbeing. There are print and ebooks, tv shows, podcasts and more which we’ve organised into themes. You can find resources to help tackle stress, insomnia, anxiety and low self-esteem as well as cookery books to help you eat well on a budget and ways to deal with procrastination and increase your productivity.

Spotify

If you are looking for some relaxing music to listen to while you study, the Library has some Spotify playlists for you here.

Get Outside

One of the best things you can do is to get outside and have a walk in the fresh air. Although don’t forget to wrap up warm in the cold Scottish winter. Nature is proven to help us feel better. Read more on this with our article on “thriving in nature

Contact

Library opening hours can be found here You can also contact the library 24/7 by phone and email on 0131 455 3500 and library@napier.ac.uk

The university is here to support your wellbeing and you can find out more about the services they offer here

By Julie McGregor

Book Week Scotland (15th- 21st November 2021)

book week scotland poster

As the nights draw in and winter approaches you might be thinking about the pleasure of cosying up on the sofa with a good book and, if you’re wondering what to read next, look no further!

Book Week Scotland is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year and between 15th and 21st of November, there are events taking place across the country to celebrate books and the joy of reading. This annual celebration is organised by the Scottish Book Trust (SBT) working in partnership with libraries and organisations throughout Scotland. They organise digital or in-person events including workshops, author readings, film showings or the spoken word, to reach a wide range of audiences across all age groups. Check the website for events taking place online or near you.

Every year, the SBT hosts Your Stories, a writing project which aims to encourage members of the public to reflect upon and share aspects of their lives inspired by a theme. The theme this year was Celebration. Anyone can submit a piece of writing and each story submitted is published on the website. A selection of these stories has been published in a book, Celebration, which is freely available in venues up and down the country during Book Week Scotland. The book is also available as a PDF or to download from the SBT website. If you’ve ever considered writing but haven’t known where to begin, the SBT website provides a range of resources to help you get started.

We are pleased to let you know there will be copies of Celebration available (for free!) to collect in all three Edinburgh Napier University Libraries and in the three student residences during Book Week Scotland (while stocks last). Pick up your copy before it’s too late!

Enjoy Book Week Scotland; whether you go to an event, pick up that book you’ve been meaning to read for so long, or simply take a moment to reflect on a celebration meaningful to you.

You can join Book Week Scotland on Facebook at facebook.com/BookWeekScotland

You can follow Book Week Scotland’s Twitter updates at twitter.com/BookWeekScot, and using the hashtag #BookWeekScotland

scottishbooktrust.com

 

By Sarah Jeffcott

Bonfire Night and The Gunpowder Plot

Fireworks bonfire night Edinburgh Castle

According to market research Company Mintel, in 2018 UK consumers spent £316m celebrating the event variously called, `Bonfire Night’, ‘Fireworks Night’ or `Guy Fawkes Night’. The majority of that money literally went up in smoke, having been spent on fireworks and bonfires. Fireworks displays were recorded as the most popular way of marking the night, with up to 38% of the population attending some form of event. 

The Gunpowder Plot

This peculiarly British annual entertainment can be traced directly to the aftermath of a 17th Century religious and political event. The Gunpowder Plot was a failed conspiracy by a group of English Catholics. Led by Robert Catesby, they planned to blow up the Protestant King James, and his government, at the State Opening of Parliament on November 6th 1605. (Catesby had been involved in a previously failed rebellion against Queen Elizabeth from which he extricated himself only at the cost in today’s money of £6 million.) 

This was to be the prelude to a revolt that would replace James with a Catholic head of state. Ending the persecution suffered by many Catholics following the split with the Roman Church over half a century previously. 

Guy Fawkes

Though we now principally associate the name of Guy Fawkes with the plot, he was a minor player in the conspiracy. He was, however, literally left holding ‘the baby’ or in this case 36 barrels of gunpowder when, following an anonymous tip-off, the authorities searched the cellars of the Palace of Westminster and discovered the explosive cache. 

This ‘search’ continues today before every State Opening of Parliament, albeit ceremonially, with the searchers, the Yeoman of the Guard, being rewarded with a glass of port.  

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