Brilliant fiction to celebrate Black History Month

Tales of One City

To celebrate this year’s Black History Month, the Resource Management Team have curated a list of brilliant fiction from Black authors. Featuring a mix of historical and classic titles alongside the best contemporary fiction from exciting new voices.

5 books to pique your interest

Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson
Set in East-London, this is an elegantly told love story between a dancer and a photographer. As the book unfolds Azumah Nelson explores the nuances of race and masculinity whilst celebrating community and Black culture.
Borrow Open Water from the library

Love in colour by Bolu Babalola
A beautiful collection of short stories – Love in colour retells iconic love stories from around the world. It’s a sweeping collection drawing inspiration from West African folktales, Greek myths, and the present day.
Borrow Love in colour from the library

Assembly by Natasha Brown
A short, powerful novel about a…

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Better World Books – virtual tour

Today I was pleased to attend a short virtual tour of Better World Books’ warehouse in Dunfermline. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to take any screenshots but as a longtime supporter and customer of theirs, I found the tour extremely interesting.

Better World Books is a for-profit, socially conscious business and a global online bookseller that collects and sells new and used books online, matching each purchase with a book donation. Each sale generates funds for literacy and education initiatives in the U.S., the UK, and around the world. Since its launch in 2003, Better World Books has raised $33 million for libraries and literacy, donated over 32 million books, and reused or recycled more than 397 million books”


A few interesting points from the Virtual Tour:

  • Books received at warehouse from libraries or donation drop boxes are processed and either sent to the Internet Archive, donated (children’s books), or listed for wholesale
  • Unsellable/unusable books are recycled into animal bedding
  • 1 million books currently on their shelves for sale
  • Partnered with 4000 libraries globally
  • Received a Circular Economy award from ScotGov
  • Packaging is recycled, biodegradable plastic and cardboard boxes are reused multiple times before being recycled into animal bedding

History: History – About Better World Books

Impact: Our Impact – About Better World Books

Buy your secondhand books from Better World!

Books and Borrowing 1750-1830: Il étoit une fois…: The Advocates Library and the ‘Le Cabinet des Fées’

Edinburgh Library and Information Services Agency

Original post from: Books and Borrowing 1750-1830: An Analysis of Scottish Borrowers’ Registers

When I began transcribing the borrowing registers of the Advocates Library, I expected to find that law reports, Session Papers, periodicals, and books of law were popular with the erudite lawyers of the Faculty of Advocates. I took stock upon the completion of the transcriptions for two registers covering the period from 1 April 1788 until 24 February 1791 (F.R. 262.a/15 and F. R. 262.a/16). These registers were chosen in accordance with our policy of focussing on particular decades as described here.

It was a surprise to find that the most-borrowed title was not a legal text or a work of history or philosophy. It wasLe cabinet des fées, ou collection choisie des contes des fées, et autres contes merveilleux, ornés de figuresa work of 41 duodecimo volumes published between…

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Home improvements – 1927 style

I love old photos like this

Tales of One City

Among our collections we have a vast number of images from the numerous Improvement Schemes that were carried out in Edinburgh.

By the late 1800s and early 1900s overcrowding and poor sanitation was proving to be the main problem for the Town Council who had gained powers to make substantial changes within the Old Town through the Edinburgh City Improvement Act 1867. Under this act tenements were improved, enhancing living conditions for residents.

The Edinburgh (Canongate, Corstorphine etc ) Improvement Scheme 1927 covered areas of the Old Town, Morrison Street, Broughton Road, Greenside and further afield to Corstorphine.

Many of the places we are familiar with now, looked very different in the 20s and 30s. If you watched Outlander you will be familiar with Bakehouse Close which was used for the location of Jamie’s Print Shop. Take a look at the close in 1927, and it doesn’t look that dissimilar…

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A Tumult in the City


Open Book

Following the ‘Glorious’ or ‘Bloodless’ Revolution of 1689 , when William of Orange was crowned King of England and Scotland and displaced James VII and II , in Scotland, there was still resistance from the people. As fighting continued to break out, people were arrested and imprisoned for petty crimes, such as not praying for the King’s health, to violet uprisings.

Kneller, Godfrey; King William III (1650-1702); Cromwell Museum;

Because of the political unrest, William and Mary issued multiple edicts to increase the authority and role of military troops all over the country. This sometimes led to confrontations, with people being press-ganged into joining the expanding military, or caught up in the protests against the same force.

One such man was Pass Sungal – also named as Robieson or Robertson – the “blackmore servant to the Laird of Prestongrange” (NRS, PC1/48 p643), who was caught up in a protest…

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James Ritchie and Son clockmakers

Seo inntinneach! ⏲ This is interesting!

Tales of One City

Our latest exhibition on Capital Collections is quite unique. It is a family photo album loaned to us for digitisation by David Ritchie Watt a descendant of clockmaker, James Ritchie. The album is a great addition to our collections with a connection to a significant Edinburgh working family who put their mark on all areas of the city from swimming pools to parks and landmarks. Poring over the family photographs prompted us to delve deeper into the history of the well-known clockmaking family.

Everyone is familiar with the clock on the Balmoral Hotel and the floral clock in Princes Street Gardens. Some of you might be familiar with the clocks where you live, say in Morningside or Tollcross. All these clocks and many more across the city and further afield, have one thing in common, they were all made by clockmakers, James Ritchie & Son.

Balmoral Hotel clock tower…

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‘U’ is for ukelele

Woohoo! I’m currently learning to play ukulele. It is the cutest, daftest instrument and I’m obsessed with all the history and stories I’ve been learning along with the tunes 🙂

Tales of One City

Some of the histories of the ukulele are quite exact about when its inventors arrived in Hawaii, their names, their place of origin and how the name ukulele came about.

Let’s start with the name. Most of the ukulele histories, if they mention where the name originated, tell the story of the last king, and penultimate monarch, of the islands, Kalakaua. Kalakaua, himself a ukulele player, watched a player demonstrate their skills on the ukulele, their fast finger work and strumming techniques and the King likened the player’s finger work to that of a jumping flea, a ukulele.

—- The Hawaiians had the word, ukulele, before the instrument appeared, it is the word that the islanders used for cat fleas. —-

This tale is recounted often in many slightly different ways, by many different people, this version is told by Alvin D Keech, ukulele player, teacher and maker and Hawaiian…

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