Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Happy Birthday!

A certain member of the library staff has a special birthday today.

Happy 60th Birthday Christmas Carol!

Love from all your friends at the library

Christmas Day

Now Kings and shepherds have come.
A wintered hovel
Hides a glory
Whiter than snowflake or silver or star.
(From 'Christmas Poem' by George Mackay Brown)

Wood Engraving by John Lawrence

Monday, 24 December 2012

Advent - 24th December

Well here we are,  we've survived gales, floods and predictions of the end of the world. Today is your last chance to stock up on holiday reading/return your overdue books/ find the perfect mince pie recipe. 

Our Christmas Eve opening hours are 1pm - 4pm 

After that we're off to peel the sprouts! 

We'll be back on Thursday 3rd January at our usual times of 2pm-7pm.

Wishing you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas!

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Advent - 23rd December

Festive spirits may be somewhat dampened as the weather continues to make festive preparations difficult - from those trying to get home for the holidays to those looking for last minute presents or needing to stock up on essentials.

For our northerly neighbours in Shetland the dreadful weather had led to cancelled ferry sailings, and with fresh food supplies running low and increasingly empty shelves, it looked like it might be a sprout-less Christmas for many. However a certain supermarket chain, who have a store in Lerwick, came to the rescue by chartering a Hercules to fly in supplies.

photo from https://www.facebook.com/shetlandwildlife?fref=ts

Advent of course is a time of journeys, and we hope however and wherever you are travelling you will reach your destination safely. 

T.S. Eliot's poem "Journey of the Magi" seems appropriate for all travellers in this season.

‘A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’ 

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Advent - 22nd December

Ah well we seem to still be here after all, despite those ancient apocalyptic predictions. We particularly liked the following explanation.

Anyway this means you can carry on with the festive preparations and this seemed like a good time to remind you of our holiday arrangements.

We are open today from 11am until 5pm and then on Monday 24th Christmas Eve from 1pm until 4pm after which we will be off doing lots of exciting festive things until 3rd January when we will return bright eyed and bushy tailed (you don't see them under the issue desk) at our usual opening times of 2pm - 7pm. 

The weather is pretty awful, so if you are venturing out pop by the library to make sure you have plenty of good books to keep you going through the holidays. But do wrap up warm, and make sure you're wearing heavy boots!

Friday, 21 December 2012

Advent - 21st December

Midwinter Haiku

The low sun slants grey shafts
between the Hoy hills; light fills
the Rackwick valley

Great wings beat in 
sweeping white across the Sound.
Waves break at Braga

Among broken walls
at Breckness a ewe lies down
with her Solstice lamb.

(from In The Hanging Valley by Yvonne Gray, published by Two Ravens Press, Ullapool, 2008)

photo by Ben Whitworth 

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Advent - 20th December

An extract from 'Yule' by George Mackay Brown:

We came at noon to the marked tree,
A grey gnarled column.
The sergeant shouted.Our axes flashed. They bit.
We struck out pieces of bark and bole.
We laboured like men in a siege, among whirls of snow,
But root was one with berry still
In the first red seepings of sunset.
                            In the village windows, that twilight,
Tinsel stars glittered.
There were chains of coloured tissue and paper lanterns.
Under the street lamp, chaste mouths.
Then the village slept, unblessed by the winter tree.

(in Winterfold by George Mackay Brown,  published by Chatto and Windus Ltd, London, 1976)

Photo courtesy of http://sianthom.blogspot.co.uk/

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Advent - 19th December

There may not be monstrous Yule Cats on the prowl in Orkney but  Yule preparations in the islands were also concerned with warding off the unwelcome attention of malevolent spirits - in this case the trows. You can read more about the traditions surrounding Yule in the Northern Isles on the excellent Orkneyjar website.

Ernest Marwick tells of a specifically Stromness Yule custom in The Folklore of Orkney and Shetland: 

A Yearly tug-of-war, with the ultimate possession of a Yule tree as its object, took place in Stromness each Christmas Eve until 1936. A tree of some kind - for trees are scarce in the islands - was taken from a garden without the owner's knowledge and carried to the middle of the town. Chains or ropes were attached to it and a trial of strength began... there was a point of delimitation between Northenders and Southenders, and their ancient rivalry found expression in an attempt to drag the tree to a traditional goal well within the territory of the faction which proved most powerful. The contest was a robust, often turbulent one. As the route was skirted by the sea, the tree invariably ended its journey in the water, followed now and then by an over-zealous player.

You can read more about the Stromness Yule Tree on the Scapa Flow Landscape Partnership's website.

We would love to hear from anyone who may remember this custom, or  has heard stories about it - please share them in the comments below.

In the meantime we're going to stick to a chocolate Yule Log - though there may still be fighting over that!

Recipe for Yule log at http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/3049/yule-chocolate-log

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Advent - 18th December

Sometimes the Internet brings you something unexpected and the serendipity has to be shared. 

We were  thinking about Yule celebrations and also planning to tell you about our new Library Knitting Group when our author friend, the lovely V. M. Whitworth, alerted us to the wonderfully creepy Icelandic legend of the Yule Cat which manages to combine both.

A cautionary tale used to ensure everyone in Iceland worked extra hard at their knitting during the festive preparations, the fearsome Yule Cat was said to devour anyone not dressed from head to toe in new clothes at Christmas. 

We loved this enormous Yule Cat by Hugleikur Dagsson.

It may be too late for this year but come along to Yap and Yarn, starting in January, and you too can have a new knitted outfit for Christmas 2013, and avoid a visit from the Yule Cat :-)

Monday, 17 December 2012

Advent - 17th December

As we make our way towards the solstice, the dark days and cold weather draw us together as families and friends seeking warmth and companionship.

We love this extract from the poem 'The Fire' by Margaret Tait, which captures this need for light and warmth in the darkness.

Tending a fire
As a full-time occupation
Is a feminine contentment.
To watch the flames rise,
Hear the crackle
And judge the correct moment and the correct place
to add the next bit of fuel
Some ancient impulse.
I build a little flame
And keep it there, feed it, keep it going
To warm you all by and feed you and cheer you by
And cheer myself too,
Cheer the deepest comfortless dark in my own self.

(from 'The Fire' in origins and elements 1959)

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Advent - 16th December

We usually suggest folk get their books for free by visiting us at the library, but for those of you stuck for last minute gift ideas a book, or if you're really not sure what to choose then a book token, may solve your dilemma.

There are of course lots of Orkney related titles to choose from but we noticed that the 3rd edition of Gregor Lamb's The Orkney Wordbook is due out this week, with a striking new cover designed by Stromness artist Alex Leonard of Tambo Illustrations.

Alex is perhaps best known for his weekly comic strip 'The Giddy Limit' which appears in The Orcadian newspaper, with the characters also appearing in another popular calendar for 2013.

For those of you unfamiliar with the antics of  Cheemo, Sandy, Liz, Davo  and Ivy there is an archive of past strips available online. Here is a seasonal example, illustrating the minefield of Christmas gift giving.


Saturday, 15 December 2012

Advent - 15th December

If your festive spirit needs a boost then get along to the Stromness Town Hall tonight at 7.30pm

Friday, 14 December 2012

Advent - 14th December

In the inn of December,  a fire, 
A loaf, a bottle of wine.
     Travellers, rich and poor, are on the roads.

(From 'Dance of the Months' in Christmas Poems by George Mackay Brown)

Wood engravings by John Lawrence in Christmas Poems

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Advent - 13th December

Sometimes amidst the seasonal joy there are darker moments - when the heightened emotions and symbolism, combined with dark cold days, the frantic preparations for a fast approaching deadline and the pressure to remain jolly can all start to become overwhelming. 

When this happens we find a dose of irreverent humour usually does the trick. So in this spirit we share with you the 42 Worst Nativity Sets.

You'll have to follow the link to enjoy the full horror but we just had to share a few of our favourites here. 

For cuteness we give you the Penguin Nativity: 

For the sheer wonderment of 'Why?' we give you the Nativity Snow Globe - where the baby Jesus appears to be in a goldfish bowl:

For managing to be disturbing, sacrilegious and funny we had to share the Godzilla Nativity:

For cleverness, oddness and edibleness we have the Food Nativity:

And finally, for being wrong on every kind of level, we could not help ourselves but share the Meat Nativity:


Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Advent - 12th December

Many thanks to one of our blog readers for drawing our attention to a fabulous online advent quiz for book lovers.

Vintage Books are posting the first line of a Vintage Classic edition every day during advent for you to identify - a lucky winner, chosen from the correct entries, will win a copy of the book in question. Test your literary knowledge and do let us know if you are one of the lucky winners!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Advent - 11th December

Our friends at the Scottish Poetry Library  are also doing an advent calendar on their blog this year. The highlight so far has been the unwrapping of the final gift from the anonymous book sculptor, whose previous works have been on display at the Poetry Library in the Gifted exhibition.

You may remember we wrote about the sculptures before, when Ian Rankin was our author of the month, as many of the sculptures had a connection to his work.

This final sculpture is as intricate and beautiful as the sculptor's previous works. You can see more photos and even a clip of the grand unwrapping on the Scottish Poetry Library's blog , but here is a detail from the work and a mysterious message from the artist, which perhaps suggests there may be more beautiful things to come in the future?!

Monday, 10 December 2012

Advent - 10th December

Another favourite story of ours for Christmas is Lucy M. Boston's The Children of Green Knowe. Like The Box Delights  this was also adapted as a children's drama by the BBC, and was also pretty creepy.

Unfortunately not available on DVD but we did find the episodes on YouTube, below is a link to the first part of episode one.

While looking on line for more information about the book we came across this very interesting article about the house upon which Green Knowe was based, Hemingford Grey in Cambridgeshire, which is now run by Lucy Boston's daughter-in-law Diana Boston. Diana's late husband Peter provided the illustrations for his mother's novels, some of which can be seen below.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Advent - 9th December

Stromness during advent is the place to be to see lots of exciting local artworks on display  - today's exhibition is the Pier Art Centre's Christmas Open Exhibition. Packed with local talent it is well worth a visit.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Friday, 7 December 2012

Advent- 7th December

Fortified with chocolate we made our way up to the depths of the attic and liberated the Christmas tree. It's now in the process of being decorated, and we will share the finished effect with you tomorrow.

But for now here is GMB getting into the festive spirit.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Advent - 6th December

Our friends on Orkney Library and Archive's Facebook page reminded us of another fabulous book to read at Christmas - John Masefield's The Box of Delights, which was adapted by the BBC in the 1980s into a genuinely chilling children's drama series. There is a clip of the opening sequence below - this still makes the hairs stand up on the back of our necks!

The Kirkwall library copy may be out on loan but never fear - come to Stromness and we can lend you not only The Box of Delights , but also the lesser known prequel The Midnight Folk - which tells of Kay Harker's first encounter with the evil Abner Brown.

There will be more books for Christmas to come, but we would love to hear your suggestions too - please tell us your favourite festive reads in the comments below.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Advent - 5th December

One of the books which goes out on loan every year at this time is Jostein Gaarder's The Christmas Mystery. 

Written for children but equally enjoyed by adults this magical Christmas tale weaves together the double narrative of  Norwegian boy Joachim's preparations for Christmas, and the story he discovers inside a very special advent calendar. 

We'd love to hear how other folk mark the period of advent - share your family traditions and book suggestions in the comments below.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Advent - 4th December

As part of our blog advent calendar we thought we would take you on a virtual walk along the street to give you a feel for Stromness at Christmas.

To start you off here is the Northlight Gallery window, which is worth a look all year round as the artist's mannequins act out various topical scenes. 

Here they are getting ready for Christmas and demonstrating the various crafts on show in the gallery's Christmas exhibition - The Gathering - which features work by members of the Orkney Crafts Association and runs until Christmas Eve. 

Remember that a Christmas shopping trip to Stromness also gives you the chance of winning £1000 in the Stromness Bonanza - you get an entry number for every £5 you spend, with the winner being announced on Hogmanay! 

More festive views of Stromness to follow, but for now here's a view looking south along Victoria Street towards Graham Place, showing the Christmas lights. 

Monday, 3 December 2012

Advent - 3rd December

Long shadows and a sprinkling of snow yesterday.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Advent - 2nd December

Whether making a conscious decision to resist consumerism, or reacting to the economic climate, many folk may this year be considering the joys of giving and receiving homemade gifts. If you're in search of inspiration for what to make, then never fear, we have a wide selection of craft and cookery books full of gift ideas. 

For the knitters amongst you we can personally recommend Joelle Hoverson's Last-Minute Knitted Gifts which is full of patterns for projects to suit most ages and tastes, and usefully arranges them according to the estimated time they should take to complete - handy if you want to avoid that last minute Christmas Eve knitting panic! 

We also have plenty of festive craft books on offer, our favourite being The Twelve Knits of Christmas by Fiona Goble - you may not manage the full set for this year but you can always just start with the partridge. 

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Advent - 1st December

We thought we'd try something new this year and try to mark advent with a post a day during December. We can't promise you chocolate but we will try to bring you a seasonal reflection, in word, or images , with a suitably local flavour. 

Today we woke up to see the first white flakes of winter at the window and so we thought we'd share the following extract from George Mackay Brown's poem "House of Winter", from his Christmas Poems collection:

                             At last, the house of winter. Find
                             On the sill
                             Intricate ice jewellery, a snowflake.



Saturday, 24 November 2012

Readers and Books

We were delighted to welcome Orkney Library's Scottish Book Trust Reader in Residence, Alison Miller, to Stromness Library for a visit this week. Over coffee and biscuits we talked about the different kinds of reading experiences library users are looking for, and have hatched plans for possible new reading promotions -  so watch this space!

Alison Miller
Alison has started her own blog about her residency, and we would highly recommend adding it to your reading list, to keep up with all her news and insights into reading, books, and the authors who write them.

You can also keep up with Alison through her Twitter and Facebook accounts  - she is very keen to hear folk's thoughts on Libraries, books and reading, so do drop by and say hello.

While we are on the subject of Libraries and social media we will be in trouble if we don't remind you that the (in)famous OrkneyLibrary twitterer has been nominated in a number of  categories of the  GoldenTwit awards.

You have until 28th November to vote for OrkneyLibrary in the Information Service, Humour, Public Service and Customer Service categories; the shortlists will then be announced on 3rd December, when voting will commence in earnest with the winners being announced on 14th December. Needless to say we have everything crossed in anticipation, and celebratory/commiseratory biscuits at the ready.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Author of the Month

Those of you who come into the library may greet our announcement that this month's author is Val McDermid with the cry

"But hasn't she been author of the month before?" 

To which we would reply
"Ah yes indeed, your memory serves you well. But wait, there is a good reason for this repetition, for on Thursday 29th November at 7pm in Kirkwall Library, Val McDermid will be giving a talk about her writing, and so to celebrate her visit it seemed a good time to have her as author of the month"

The good news is that Val's visit has sparked an enormous amount of interest - the bad news is that this means all the tickets for her reading have been snapped up already. However  this reading is only one of a series of events to celebrate Book Week Scotland 2012 and there are still a few tickets available for author events by Victoria Campbell on Friday 30th November at 2pm, and local author Rosie Wallace on Saturday 1st December at 3pm. To reserve tickets, which are free, for either of these events please phone or call in to Orkney Library and Archive in Kirkwall.

For more information about Book Week Scotland keep an eye on the library Facebook page and Twitter account, and in the meantime do drop by and borrow some Val McDermid titles - at least then you'll know what you are missing.


Wednesday, 7 November 2012


image from http://www.orkneyjar.com/folklore/selkiefolk/sulesk.htm
We've been thinking a lot about seals this week. If you come into the library we are likely to ask you to complete a questionaire about seal conservation from a local school pupil collecting data for their ScottishScience Baccalaureate project, which seems rather appropriate when the Sanday Ranger's Sealcam  went live this week. 

The Sanday Sealcam project is a joint initiative between the RSPB's Enjoy Wild Orkney project and Sanday's Development Trust's Ranger Service, with the help and expertise of local landowners and Triscom Technology Ltd, and gives folk a chance to view live footage of  the grey seals and their pups from Sanday's beaches between 07:00 and 17:00 each day.

Seals are such a distinctive feature of the Orkney coast and richly woven into local folklore and literature. In fact  as Simon Hall points out in his book The History of Orkney Literature one of the only substantial pieces of Orkney literature between Orkneyinga Saga and Walter Scott's The Pirate is the ballad 'The Play o' de Lathie Odivere', collected in fragmentary form by Walter Traill Dennison and published in Ernest Marwick's An Anthology of Orkney Verse, and later included as part of his story "The Ballard Singer" by George Mackay Brown in An Orkney Tapestry.

This ballad tells how Odivere enters a pact with Odin in order to win the hand of a beautiful Norwegian and then goes off on crusade, leaving his bride at home. His return home is delayed by his diversions in the brothels of Constantinople and in his abscence his lonely wife is wooed by her former lover Imravoe - who it turns out is a selkie. The Lady bears Imravoe a son, who returns to the sea with his father but tragedy results when Odivere returns and slays the young selkie and discovers his wife's infidelity. Condemned to death by her furious husband, the Lady is saved when Imravoe and his fellow selkies herd all the whales in the North Sea towards the shore, leading Odivere and his men off on an, ultimately unsuccessful, hunt only to return home to discover 'The lady fair was clean awa/ An' never mair b' mortal seen'.

Imravoe's description of himself:

"I am a man apo the land,
I am a selkie i' the sea. 
My home it is the Soola-Skerry
An' a' that's there is under me."

also appears in the folk ballad  "The Great Selkie o' SuleSkerry"   which uses the same basic plot of a human woman and her selkie lover and the tragic fate of their offspring, suggesting not only the popularity of the selkie in Orkney legend but also suggesting a common source for both folk ballad and written text. 

In relation to this it is interesting to note a quote from Low's Fauna Orcadensis of 1770, reproduced in William Groundwater's Birds and Mammals of Orkney:
"a ship commonly goes once a year to Soliskerry, returning with 200 or 300 seals. She is manned with between thirty and forty men who, as soon as they come up on the rock, fall to knocking them on the head and to cutting off the skin and blubber: the skins are sold by public auction at five or six shillings sterling a piece." 
Perhaps the image of Suleskerry as the kingdom of the selkie folk had its roots in this relationship, which must have created a certain amount of mixed feelings for some of those involved - for whenever man's needs and interests come into conflict with those of nature we face an uncomfortable choice.

We will be watching the Sealcam with interest and half an eye open for selkie changlings!

Wednesday, 31 October 2012


The Stromness Library Reading Group meets tonight to discuss Flann O'Brien's The Third Policeman, a suitably dark text for our Hallowe'en meeting!

In the days before pumpkins and 'trick or treat' came to Stromness, children could look forward to some equally tasty, though slightly healthier treats, as George Mackay Brown recalls in Letters From Hamnavoe: 

The old wooden tub was taken out of the shed and set squarely on the flagstone floor. It was threequarters filled with water; maybe a kettleful of hot water was added to take the chill off. Then a poke bursting with apples was emptied into the tub, where they tossed and eddied and collided with each other - ruddy fragrant spheres .
 There were other seasonal treats too:

I have only a vague memory of what we did with the nuts - whether they were 'dooked' for too, or simply shared out - walnuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts thinly scattered among a huge profusion of monkey nuts.
There were one  or two variations; as when an apple coated with syrup was suspended from a rafter and the object of the exercise was to take a bite out of it. It was not so easy either, and meantime, cheeks and foreheads got stickier and stickier...

We can remember doing something similar as children, with pancakes spread with syrup or treacle, hanging from a string, which had to be eaten without the use of your hands. Yummy but messy!

The origins of such traditions are lost to time, but as GMB points out:
There must certainly be some reason rooted in old magic for these rituals. Of course the apples and the nuts marked the consummation of the fruitful year. Ahead stretched the gauntness and snows of winter.

It would be good to hear your memories of Hallowe'en traditions from previous generations - please feel free to add them as a comment below this post.

 image from http://thebestheartsarecrunchy.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/bobbing-for-apples.html

Friday, 19 October 2012

Creative Vision

Tonight sees the launch of a new anthology of Orkney writing as part of Creative Vision - a series of events in Orkney celebrating mental wellbeing and challenging stigma, which are part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival.

The new anthology To The World, edited by Rosie Alexander,  includes work by a wide range of local writers and artists, from the experienced to first-time writers and artists, and offers an honest exploration of the mind and self in all moods and states of health. The anthology has been funded by See Me and is published by The George Mackay Brown Fellowship and Orkney Minds

Tonight's launch event takes place in the Upper Library, Stromness Academy, at 7.30pm and will include readings from the anthology by some of the writers, along with music and refreshments. 

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

A Birthday Celebration

George Mackay Brown by Fred Schley  - portrait  on display in Stromness Library

We have been reminded by our friends at Orkney Archive that on this day in 1921 George Mackay Brown was born.

Looking for a suitable quote to celebrate the life of a writer, whose life and work was so defined by the place of his birth, we have turned to An Orkney Tapestry - which seems to us to capture both George Mackay Brown's sense of the importance of Orkney's literary heritage:

It is the word, blossoming as legend, poem, story, secret, that holds a community together and gives a meaning to its life.

and his own role within that tradition:

With the help of the old stories, the old scrolls, the gathered legends, and the individual earth-rooted imagination, I will try to discover a line or two of the ancient life-giving heraldry.

That so often we find ourselves turning to his poems or prose to illuminate some aspect of life in Stromness seems proof enough of a writer whose work is firmly woven into the fabric of his community, and will continue to be celebrated as part of its rich, and ongoing, life and legend.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Orcrime 2012

Time to get out your magnifying glass, and put on your deerstalker hat, scruffy mac, woolly jumper, sensible shoes, handlebar moustache - or whatever fictional detectives might be wearing these days - and get along to the library for the start of Orkney's first crime writing festival which starts tomorrow. 

Orcrime 2012 will run from 11th to 13th October, and is organised by Orkney Library and Archive and sponsored by the Orcadian Bookshop, and will feature a range of events and promotions -  from appearances by leading crime novelists Lin Anderson, Ann Cleeves and Denise Mina, to free DVD and CD loans. 

A full programme of events can be found on the Orcrime 2012 page of the Orkney Library website, but we can tell you that tomorrows events start with Broth and Breid - a chance to have lunch at the Kirkwall library     between 12-2pm with a suitably themed menu including Lawless Lentil soup served with a selection of bread, oatcakes and cheese. 

Then at 2pm the winners of the Orkney Library and Archive and George Mackay Brown Fellowship crime short story competition will be announced and at 7pm there will be a talk from Ann Cleeves. 

While the majority of events will take place in Kirkwall, here in Stromness you can borrow from a selection of new crime titles, enjoy free CD loans and even take part in our name the crime show quiz. 

Keep an eye on the Orkney Library Facebook Page and Twitter account for all the latest news on the events. 

Thursday, 4 October 2012

National Poetry Day

Happy National Poetry Day to all our blog readers and library visitors!

This year's theme is Stars, and as usual there is a set of lovely postcards, featuring poems on that theme, to collect from the library.

Have a look at the Scottish Poetry Library's website for lots of wonderful poetry resources, available all year round, and you can even order free poetry postcards from previous National Poetry Days.

Here is one of this year's postcards, featuring the poem 'Sea Poppy 2' by Ian Hamilton Finlay.

 Wishing you a day full of poetic pleasures.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Rody Gorman

We will be celebrating National Poetry Day in the library on Thursday 4th October,  but in anticipation of this celebration of poetry we wanted to draw your attention to a live poetry reading, happening here in Stromness. 

For tomorrow, Wednesday 3rd October, the poet Rody Gorman will give a reading at the Pier Arts Centre Stromness at 7.30pm. Born in Dublin, but now living in Skye, Rody Gorman has published a number of collections of poetry in English, Irish and Scottish Gaelic. He has translated Cavafy, Yeats, Prévert, Neruda, Kavanagh, Holan, Milosz, Różewicz, Larkin, Popa, Holub, Aspenstrom, Snyder, Njardvik, Longley, Platelis and Armitage into Gaelic, while his own work has been translated into many languages.

Rody Gorman © Anna Pettigrew

As well as being a poet, Rody Gorman  has worked as Convenor of the Translation and Linguistic Rights Committee of Scottish PEN; Chair of HI-Arts Writing Development Group, as Specialist Adviser for the Scottish Arts Council, and as songwriter, lecturer, creative writing tutor and adjudicator of literary competitions.

The reading is organised by Orkney Arts Society and admission is £4, or £3 concessions and £1 for school students. 

Saturday, 29 September 2012

A rainy day in Stromness

It is not the nicest of days in Stromness today, though when the sun shines off the wet street it is kind of bonny.

If you are looking for something to do to keep out of the weather today then you are in luck - as you are just in time to catch the final day of the exhibition 'An Island Gateway', which is on show upstairs in our exhibition room.

Featuring works by local artists John Cumming, Diana Leslie and Rik Hammond, and participants of the community workshops, along with poetry by Morag MacInnes, the exhibition explores the unique identity of Stromness through its architecture and heritage. Further work from the project is also on display in the newly refurbished former Commercial Hotel in Victoria Street, which will be open today from 10am- 2pm for folk to view the building and art work, along with details of the upcoming Stromness website and information about other council projects.


The refurbishment of the Commercial Hotel is part of the Stromness Townscape Heritage Initiative, which has seen many buildings along the street being renovated and restored. This project, and the exhibition, have been supported by Orkney Islands Council, Historic Scotland, The National Lottery Heritage Lottery Fund, Awards for All Scotland, and the European Regional Development Fund.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Internet Access

picture courtesy of  http://cynfulcreationscanada.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/intermittent-internet-access.html 

Well the good news is, we are getting a shiny new  upgrade to our computer system next week -  the bad news is, this means there will be no internet access available for two days.

The dates for your diary are Tuesday 25th and Wednesday 26th September, when there will be no internet access available in either Stromness or Kirkwall Libraries. The WiFi connection will not be affected. 

Apologies for any inconvenience this disruption to our usual service may cause. Please don't worry though, you can still come and see us and we'll lend you some books instead! 

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Stromness Spirit of the Sea

The Orkney International Science Festival may be finishing today but tomorrow sees the first day of a brand new three day series of events, activities and performances here in Stromness.

Stromness Spirit of the Sea aims to celebrate the past, present and future maritime heritage of Stromness, and will have events covering all aspects of this relationship -  including guided sea tours and heritage town walks, sea legends, music and song, arts and crafts,children's workshops, and the chance to taste fresh local food and drink.

Programmes detailing the events are available in Stromness from John Rae Newsagents, Visit Orkney, and Stromness Museum; and from Orkney Television Enterprise, Broad Street, Kirkwall. Tickets for the events are available from John Rae Newsagent in Stromness, OTE in Kirkwall or can be reserved via the website
The events open tomorrow (Thursday 13th September) at the South Pier, with music from Celtic/Scottish folk band Barluath at 10am, followed by the welcome address by Howie Firth at 10.30am.

Looking at the forecast for gale force winds over the next few days it seems that visitors to the events may also get to see Stromness' relationship with the sea at its most spirited! So if you find yourself seeking shelter between events then pop in to the library where we have a range of books about Orkney's maritime heritage, including the wonderful photographic record of Stromness published in 1992, Sea Haven: Stromness in the Orkney Islands by Bryce Wilson and Keith Allardyce.