Thursday, 31 October 2013

Happy Hallowe'en

A Neepie Luntrin by Charles Hemingway

Looking for an alternative to neepie lanterns and the like this evening? Then you might like to go along to the Pier Arts Centre at 7.30pm when the Writing the North Project will be holding a public event called 'Creative Journeys'. 

Local writers Pamela Beasant, Yvonne Gray, Morag MacInnes and Alison Miller will be joined academics for an evening of readings,  talks, and discussion on how writers write in Orkney, both now and in previous centuries. The event is free and open to all.  

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Festive Knitting

Can you believe it is nearly the end of October already? Tonight the clocks go back, then the darkness will creep into the afternoons, and soon it will be time to think about preparing for Christmas. In fact here at the Library preparations are already under way, as the Yap & Yarn groups are busy knitting and crocheting squares to create their very own woolly Christmas tree for the Orkney Library and Archive. 

If any knitters/crocheters out there would like to help us with this project then we would be delighted to receive donations of squares up to a maximum size of 21cm x 21cm (8 inches) in any shade of green and in various weights of yarn and stitch patterns. We would also love any knitted/crochet  decorations for the finished tree. 

As you can see from the photo we will need plenty of squares to cover our improvised tree structure!

But first we have Hallowe'en to enjoy and we wonder if any of our Yap & Yarners will be bringing along Hallowe'en themed projects when we meet here in Stromness Library on Monday (28th) at 5pm-7pm? 

A quick search of the wonderful pattern resources on Ravelry revealed a multitude of spooky yarn creations, from the fun of Wanda the Witch:

the cuteness of the Sweet Pumpkin hat:

the whackiness of the Scare Isle tam:

to the sheer wrongness of the Hallowe'en Horror Hand!:

Whether you aspire to knit a square or a scare, come along and join us on Monday for Yap & Yarn. All abilities welcome, there will be experienced knitters and crocheters on hand to help even the newest beginners get started, and to offer advice and help, so don't be scared - unless of course you're planning to use your ball of yarn for a spot of Hallowe'en divination

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Storytelling Festival

Today sees the start of the Orkney Storytelling Festival 2013 with a full programme of events over the next four days. As in previous years the events take place in a number of venues throughout Orkney including the following events in Stromness:

Thursday 24th 

7-8.30pm  - The Canadian connection  with Bob Pegg, Tom Muir,  and Dale Jarvis in The Royal Hotel

Meet the Storytellers/Open Mic session - 9-10pm in The Royal Hotel

Friday 25th 

9.30-10.30 am - Roots and Flutes Workshop - with Bob Pegg in the Stromness Community 

Saturday 26th 

2-4pm - Trans-Atlantic Tales - with Dale Jarvis, Lawrence Tulloch, Tom Muir, Amber Connolly and Rachael Torrance in the Stromness Town Hall

Then on Sunday 27th there will be a very special afternoon of Folk Tales from Near and Far with Tom Muir and Lawrence Tulloch in Betty's Reading Room  from 2-4pm. This is a free event but ticketed due to the limited space so you will need to book ahead to avoid disappointment. 

See the Orkney Storytelling Festival website for full details of all events, ticket prices and booking information. 

Wednesday, 23 October 2013


Sometimes even those of us who work in libraries need reminding how lucky we are. 

Last week the author Neil Gaiman gave the second annual Reading Agency Lecture  and in an impassioned speech he spoke of the increasing importance of literacy, the benefits of reading fiction, the need to encourage children to read for pleasure, and the vital role of libraries in ensuring  that all members of society have access to books. 

 Books are the way that we communicate with the dead. The way that we learn lessons from those who are no longer with us, that humanity has built on itself, progressed, made knowledge incremental rather than something that has to be relearned, over and over. There are tales that are older than most countries, tales that have long outlasted the cultures and the buildings in which they were first told.  - Neil Gaiman 

 The power of books to connect us to the vast store of human knowledge and to allow us a glimpse into the experience of others is something those of us who are literate and have access to books take for granted. It is hard to imagine how difficult it must be to negotiate an increasingly text based world without being able to read -  or how frustrating and disadvantaging not to be able to access the books you want or need. 

The Orkney Library and Archive are proud to be able to work in partnership with local groups  to make sure everyone has access to essential skills and information. The Learning Link    provide free and informal tutoring for literacy, numeracy and basic computer skills, and  local CitizensOnline  co-ordinator Janette Mackie, offers free training and support  through Get IT Together Orkney to local folk needing help to get online. 

Imagine a world without libraries - no don't actually, you'll give yourself nightmares:

We have an obligation to support libraries. To use libraries, to encourage others to use libraries, to protest the closure of libraries. If you do not value libraries then you do not value information or culture or wisdom. You are silencing the voices of the past and you are damaging the future. - Neil Gaiman

You can read an edited version of the lecture on The Guardian website, or watch a recording of the lecture on the Reading Agency's website to hear more of Neil Gaiman's inspiring words. 

We would like to thank him for reminding us that what we do is important, that we are lucky enough to be the facilitators of access to books for all.

So come to the library - borrow a book, use a computer, read the paper, look something up in the reference section - enjoy the freedom to explore the wonderful world of books, and all for free! 

Saturday, 12 October 2013


After a spell of unseasonably mild weather there is a definite chill in the air to accompany the rapidly shortening days. But today dear readers we offer you not one, but two remedies for beating the cold this weekend.

First an event in Stromness this evening when West Side Cinema, supported by Orkney Library and Archive and The George Mackay Brown Fellowship, presents a screening of the film 'Lore' followed by a question and answer session with  Rachel Seiffert,  author of the novel The Dark Room on which the film is based. The screening is in the Stromness Town Hall at 7.30pm and entry is £5 (£3 for under 16s - 'Lore' has a 15 certificate rating). 

We've heard from the organisers that the boiler in the Town Hall is playing up, so if you want to be sure of escaping the cold please wrap up warm. West Side Cinema invites its audiences to bring their own refreshments to screenings and so tonight something warming might be appropriate.

Our second offering is for those who have already succumbed to the various seasonal ailments which are doing the rounds and may be looking for alternative remedies with which to tackle their ills.

Whatever your symptoms we recommend a visit to the Orkney Archive Blog where our lovely colleagues have been researching some traditional Orkney remedies. If you don't fancy giving the limpet juice or roasted mice a try then we can at least guarantee that the description of the wart cure will provide you with the therapeutic effects of a good laugh!