10 reasons to make the most of your library service

As the nation prepares to mark National Libraries Day 2014, Edinburgh’s libraries are gearing up for their own celebrations across the city.

Events in the city’s libraries will include ‘personal librarian’ experiences in Sighthill, book charades at Oxgangs, Corstorphine’s book 'blind date' and, in Balerno Library, a potato-themed book display.

But what goes on in our libraries the rest of the year? We’ve rounded up our top ten lesser-known library services:

1. There are more than 3300 e-books and 2100 e-audiobooks available to download for free to tablets, smartphones or e-readers. The e-magazine service, Zinio, also lets you read full digital copies of more than 100 magazines, including National Geographic, Marie Claire and Total Film. And if it’s all a bit hi-tech drop-in e-book surgeries at Central Library and Stockbridge Library have advice and guidance on how to use new technology.

2. Edinburgh’s Libraries offer a comprehensive collection of DVDs and CDs for rental, and to celebrate National Libraries Day they’re offering two for the price of one, meaning two CDs for 60p and two DVDs for £1.20. What’s more, music-loving library card-holders can listen to jazz and classical tunes online for free as part of the music streaming service.

3. Spotted a book you’d like to read? Download our libraries app to your smartphone and scan the bar code to search for it in the library catalogue and reserve for free. Plus, the app can be used to renew books whenever, wherever and works as a library membership card at self-service and traditional counters. 

4. Your Library offers practical support for learner drivers preparing for their theory tests, people getting ready to take a British Citizenship Test and online language courses. Internet surfers can also discover the history of Edinburgh and beyond with Capital Collections, the online image library for Edinburgh Libraries and Museums and Galleries.

5. Edinburgh’s libraries showcase some of the very best emerging and established literary talent with Edinburgh Reads, a year-round free programme of author events. Catch up on appearances from Alexander McCall Smith and the late Iain Banks – catch, amongst other authors, on the YouTube channel.

6. Want to share your reading experience? There are a whole variety of book groups across the city’s libraries, ranging from crime fiction readers and teenagers to speakers of other languages. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can set up your own and borrow up to 15 copies of a title for your members.

7. The Central Library’s special collections are home to items of international significance including The Henry Dyer Collection, a rare selection of the 19th century engineer’s Japanese books, photographs and prints, and the Early Photography Collection, which features work by pioneer photographers such as David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson. These can be viewed by appointment or online.

8. Libraries are no longer just a place for peace and quiet. Some of the activities taking place in venues around the city are filled with fun and laughter, like Bookbug, free song, story and rhyme sessions for children under four. For grown-ups there are knitting groups, scrabble clubs and even an Italian Circle which meets regularly for conversation.

9. Library Link is a free bus minibus service for anyone who has difficulty getting to the library because of age, disability or ill health. The bus, which has wheelchair access, trained staff and Royal Voluntary Service volunteers on hand to give assistance, will pick users up from home and take them to their local library, where they can choose their books then sit down for a coffee before being taken home again.

10. Want to brush up your computer skills? Twenty-two of the city’s 28 libraries offer a six-week LearnIT Beginners course, teaching the basics, including email and the internet, in addition to advanced classes and IT Buddy schemes.

City of Edinburgh Culture and Sport Convener, Cllr Richard Lewis, says Edinburgh’s Libraries are a priority for the city.

He added: “Our libraries boast a fantastic range of resources and we’re committed to investing in and developing such an essential part of the community. Most of us don’t realise just how much they have to offer, and National Libraries Day is a great excuse to let people know what they can gain from the city’s service.”

Find out what’s going on for National Libraries Day in Edinburgh on our website.

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