What I Did On Friday, by the Reader Development Officer*

July 19, 2010

OK, so a few months ago we were dreaming of how lovely it would be if a mobile library van could visit the centre of Edinburgh, somewhere near the designated Poetry Garden in St Andrew Square. Fortunately there are people in Edinburgh who like a little bit of a quixotic adventure of a wet and windy Friday morning.

9.30:  arrive at potting shed entrance to Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh with Fay Young, stick our heads into various intriguing rooms, find kindly contact who is helping to loan us four big pots of fragrant herbs ready to load into boot of Fay’s car.

10.00: sit on a bollard in Castle Street, surrounded by pots of herbs and bags of poems, feeling mildly in wrong century.

10.12: explain non-competitive status to deeply unflappable men on flower stall, buy sunflowers, get good deal on generous bunch of sunflowers, wonder briefly what to do with armful of sunflowers at end of day

10.15: spot brand new mobile library van from Edinburgh City Libraries nosing slowly down pedestrian area, driven by Michael Lafferty and Jane Douglas from the Access Services team

10.17: scramble on board to poke around and squeal at well-appointed nature of new library van design, and particularly stock – stuffed with nice new Scottish fiction and poetry, audio books, children’s books

10.19: snort with approval at poems already looked out for the day by the Access Services team: a fine sense of humour (Ian’s, I think) has located four or five poems about rain, and the second stanza of Dylan Thomas’ ‘Poem in October’ which is stop-in-your-tracks lovely and apposite. And also about rain.  Add to own pile of recommendable poems (short, long, rhyming, free verse, funny, serious as required) from Poetry Foundation and the SPL shelves about the pleasures of summer, sea, city, food, love, insight, coffee, various ball sports, reading and, indeed, rain.

10.20: help create instant Poetry Garden with Astroturf, herbs and sunflowers, deckchairs and one incredibly determined bee. Second kindly man from flower stall comes to rescue with scissors and advice.

10.30 – 3pm:  tuck poem postcards into shelf ends, books, seats, leaflet holders; help Michael and Jane and their boss Ian field queries, chat to borrowers, recommend and issue books; offer to find people a poem they’ll enjoy; slide poems into books and pockets;  catch plant pots repeatedly and sit on Astroturf to stop it blowing away; try to ply Michael and Jane with hot coffee (it’s a nice warm van but they feel it is not cricket to huddle inside because they want to encourage passersby to pop in); beg for their most lurid tales of mobile library adventures and freak weather conditions; fail to catch plant pot during spectacular gust, mourn breakage; agree with several visitors including Chris Scott that bliss would be one’s own mobile library van, complete with regularly renewed book stock; further agree with additional visitors that a more manageable bliss would also be a monthly mobile library visit to the city centre, allowing one to plan book borrowing and renewal;  wonder if they would let me have a shot driving the van slowly up and down; reject thought fast.

3.05: help tidy everything back into pumpkin. Or possibly Tardis. There are parallels.

*aka Lilias

One Response to “What I Did On Friday, by the Reader Development Officer*”


  1. […] You’ll be able to find us on Castle Street from 10.30am-2pm reprising our collaboration with the beautiful new Edinburgh City Libraries mobile library van. You’re invited to borrow or return your ECL books, browse a lovely stock of poetry, fiction, […]


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