Tag Archives: Scottish Poetry Library

#ELTU1: Scottish Poetry Library

14 Jun

GLTU has a wee sister! Lynn Corrigan (@lynncorrigan) organised #ELTU1, the inaugural Edinburgh event, on 13th June and, following time-honoured Glasgow tradition, we visited an interesting library and then went to the bar.

The Scottish Poetry Library is just off Canongate on the Royal Mile. Although it’s in such a historic area, it’s actually an award-winning modern building (1999 – one of the first Heritage Lottery Fund projects.) Julie Johnstone, Librarian, gave us a tour and some background information about the library and Colin Waters, the Library’s Communications Manager, talked about the innovative use of social media by the Library.

Julie explained that the Library’s collections and services attract visitors from around the world and anyone can join for free. (However, despite core-funding by Creative Scotland, staff still need to raise money through sales, events and a Friends scheme.) The collection mainly covers Scottish poets or poetry published in Scotland from the second half of the twentieth century onwards, but is not wholly restricted to that. As well as books (including children’s material) there are journals, pamphlets, cuttings, CDs and archive collections (Edwin Morgan; Ian Hamilton Finlay). A lot of enquiries come from people looking for poems on particular subjects so the collection is extensively subject-indexed. (A good question was asked: Is your metadata poetic? Answer: Some of the thesaurus chains can be!

Colin, an ex-journalist, talked about the library’s social media presence which he sees as an important way of fulfilling their mission to bring people and poetry together. He thinks of SPL as a hub for to promote poetry throughout Scotland, not just as a collection for people to visit, and because poetry is a very mobile form – it fits on postcards, posters etc – it is thus ideally suited to social media. SPL tweets as @byleaveswelive, a phrase from Patrick Geddes which is reflected throughout the library, even on the paving stones outside. As a group of teeters, naturally we were most interested in Twitter which Colin thinks is the best social medium – 140 characters forces creativity. It is used for promotion, but not as mini-press releases, he tries to inject humour and personality to give the feed a specific voice. The feed has 14000 followers – not all going to be passionate poetry lovers, but reading snippets on Twitter is better than nothing!

Other media used are blogs, Facebook, Pinterest, Flickr, SoundCloud and Podomatic. Poets are usually keen to do podcasts of their own work – each one gets about 300 hits so it is good promotion for them. Colin and Julie were then asked if they had considered a poetry app, which they had – a poemgram where the user could select a poem and send it to someone as a card, either digitally or by mail. This would require specific funding which they haven’t been able to secure – and obviously a lot of hard work!

The mysterious book sculptures were greatly admired – this was my third encounter in as many weeks because I’ve recently visited the Scottish Seabird Centre at North Berwick and Glasgow School of Art, both of which have a sculpture from the Book Week Scotland series. And as I type this, I am reading on Twitter that a new one has just been delivered to Leith Library! Where will they turn up next?

Finally, we went round the corner to Hemma where food and drink was taken – and Lynn introduced us to the joys of Idun’s Genuine Swedish Elderflower cider. Scrummy!


PS For more accounts of the visit, see Lynn Corrigan’s blog and Claire Donlan’s blog, and for more on the newest sculpture, see Leith Library’s blog.

#GLTU6 – Edinburgh Book Sculptures: review

13 Oct

After a break over the summer, #GLTU returned with a very successful first outing for 2012/13 on Friday, 12th October.

When she heard that the famous Edinburgh Book Sculptures were on tour and visiting the Mitchell Library, Gillian (@gillianhanlon) was quick to suggest a visit, and we were lucky enough to persuade Abby Cunnane of the Scottish Poetry Library (@byleaveswelive) and Peggy Hughes from the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust (@EdinCityofLit) to come along and give us added insight into the sculptures and how they were found. The evening was well attended:19 for the visit at the Mitchell, of whom 14 moved on to the nearby Koh-I-Noor for a curry afterwards. I took a few pictures, but they turned out a bit rubbish I’m afraid. These two were acceptable, the first showing Abby describing one of the sculptures and the other taken at the restaurant. The food had just been served so we were concentrating – we didn’t look as serious as that all night!



Other people took better photographs, the most prolific being Richard (@Ricaird) who tweeted a full set, one of each sculpture, so I decided the best way to enhance this review was shamelessly to plunder other people’s material and create a Storify which also includes links to background information about the sculptures in case you want to know more. I thought they were wonderful, and loved the mysteries surrounding them. Who created them? I believe they are genuinely anonymous – Abby and Peggy seem to have no more idea than we do, although they know the artist is female. How could she smuggle the sculptures into the ten cultural institutions where they were found without ever being noticed? Why were they all addressed to the recipients’ Twitter-handles? She must therefore be familiar with Twitter – perhaps we follow her unknowingly? What is certain is that the artist has a passion for books and libraries and is tremendously creative – as well as the intricacy of the sculptures themselves, just having the idea in the first place and working in all the literary allusions she makes would be beyond most people. So I think there must be others out there who know someone like that and have very strong suspicions, yet they keep the secret too.

The sculptures are at the Mitchell till the 27th before they go off on the next leg of the tour. If you can, I strongly recommend visiting. If you can’t, console yourself with buying the book Gifted – 50p from each copy sold goes to support the Scottish Poetry Library.

So that’s #GLTU6 over. At the end of the evening, talk turned to #GLTU7. There are two schools of thought – leave it till the New Year, or go for a Christmas bash. If we’re going to do the latter, we need to move quickly so opinions are sought as soon as possible. Also, if anyone else has posted any material about the book sculptures visit, please let me know so that I can link it into the blog or Storify.

Announcing #GLTU6: the Edinburgh Book Sculptures, Friday 12/10/12

12 Sep

In 2011, ten mysterious book sculptures were discovered in various Edinburgh venues, the first and last appearing in the Scottish Poetry Library which has now, in conjunction with Edinburgh’s UNESCO City of Literature Trust, arranged a tour of Scotland for them. All ten will be displayed in public together for the first time at libraries across the country (as well as at the Wigtown Book Festival).

The tour is called Gifted : The Edinburgh Book Sculptures on Tour 2012 and it will arrive at the Mitchell Library next month. For more about the tour, see this Vimeo or the SPL’s event page on Facebook. Busy Thistle has left this account of visiting the exhibition in Dundee. If tweeting about it, use the hashtag #GiftEDtour.

GLTU6 will consist of a visit to the exhibition at 4pm on Friday, 12th October and we will be joined by Abby Cunnane from the Scottish Poetry Library (@byleaveswelive) and Peggy Hughes from the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust who will give us added insight into the sculptures and how they were found – it’s interesting, for example, that each sculpture was originally addressed to the Twitter account of the receiving organisation.

For the visit, please meet at the Granville Street entrance to the Mitchell just before 4. For those who want to socialise afterwards, we will adjourn to the nearby Koh-I-Noor at 5.15 for drinks and a curry (pre-theatre menu, £9.95 for 3 courses) – if you can’t make the exhibition, you’re welcome to join us for those. A sign-up is available for both events (you can choose to attend either or both) and I look forward to seeing many of you there.

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