Nice to meet you… Kayleigh!

September 14, 2010

You may recall that we recently advertised for a new Library Assistant; well we acquired one and we’re delighted that she’s now fully in situ at our reception desk; manning the phones, dealing with enquiries of all shapes and sizes and managing our shop. Please give Kayleigh Bohan a warm welcome! Here’s a wee interview so we can all get better acquainted…

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I came to Edinburgh for university about five years ago and loved it so much I didn’t want to leave. My home town is Auchinleck on the west side of the country, famous for Talbot FC and being the home of James Boswell.

How have your first few weeks been? Highlights?

They’ve flown by! The Plan B private viewing with talks by Paul Muldoon and Norman McBeath has been my favourite event so far. Meeting volunteers on Saturdays and through the week has been great and the tea cupboard has been a highlight, definitely.

What’s the last book you read?

Usually, I have two books on the go: one for the bus or for spare minutes waiting in places, one for home when I have a few hours to get into it.  Sum by David Eagleman is the one I’m reading on the bus right now. At home, I’m reading Warrior Poet, a biography of Audre Lorde by Alexis De Veaux.

Your favourite kind of cake?

I’m stuck between chocolate crispy cakes and lemon cake, depending on the kind of tea to go with it. Please don’t make me choose.

The best thing about your job?

The SPL is a lovely place to work and there’s always something interesting to be getting on with.

What you’re looking forward to?

The Autumn series of events we’re running. Being around while that’s all happening will be great and I’m really looking forward to By Leaves We Live, the small presses fair on Saturday 25th September.

If you could have any kind of superpower, what would it be?

I can’t really answer without thinking about All My Friends are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman and how most superpowers end up being a bit rubbish for the people who have them, so if superpowers exist, I’d be forced to make my superpower opting out of having one.


The Scottish Poetry Library (Edinburgh) is seeking a person with excellent communication, IT and organisational skills to be a part of its imaginative, energetic and committed team.

This is an ideal entry position for an individual interested in gaining experience of working in an Information Services environment based in Edinburgh’s vibrant literary arts sector.

Salary £16,300

37 hr/wk (Tuesday-Saturday, including Thursday to 8 p.m.)
Initial contract, fixed 1 year (extendable)

Start date: August 2010


  • positioned at the front desk, dealing with or redirecting calls and enquiries
  • managing events bookings, events databases and website pages; assisting with event preparation
  • managing library bookshop:  keeping accurate cashbook, monitoring and fulfilling online sales, ordering sales stock and contributing to stock decisions
  • manage circulation (new borrowers, issues, overdues, postal loans, requests, renewals)
  • managing library databases
  • assisting with reference enquiries
  • new acquisitions processing
  • assisting with catalogue maintenance (additions/deletions), and some item cataloguing
  • creating displays and managing noticeboard
  • contributing to the library’s Web 2.0 presence (blog and Twitter)
  • shelving, stocktaking, and general shelf maintenance
  • sundry administrative tasks, such as managing post, and ordering stationery

Essential skills/qualities

  • Pleasant and confident in dealing with the public, in person and by phone
  • Excellent IT skills
  • Efficient, organised and attentive to detail

Desirable skills/qualities

  • A library and information services qualification, or currently working towards this
  • Knowledge of, and enthusiasm for, Scottish literature, particularly poetry
  • Previous bookshop experience

To find out more about the work of the Scottish Poetry Library, visit our websites, ), our blog, or find us on Twitter @byleaveswelive

To apply, please send a covering letter explaining why you are applying for the post, together with a CV, to Julie Johnstone, Librarian, Scottish Poetry Library, 5 Crichton’s Close, Canongate, Edinburgh EH8 8DT t: 0131 557 2876 f: 0131 557 8393

e: Applications by email welcomed.

Closing date: Thursday 17th June 2010

Interviews are likely to be held on either 29 or 30 June 2010.

Supported by the Scottish Arts Council. The Scottish Poetry Library is an Investor in People.

Blue sky thinking

April 30, 2010

I returned from the USA a week later than I expected. Chicago – home of the Poetry Foundation and the Art Institute – is no bad place to be stranded, and it has marvellous bookshops, too, but I was glad to be home and especially just in time to go to Edwin Morgan’s party. I see today that Gillian Clarke, the National Poet of Wales,  has made a poetic virtue of necessity, and it’s a point of view with which I sympathise. It’s going to be trains for me for a while!

Blue Sky Thinking

Let’s do this again, ground the planes for a while
and leave the runways to the racing hare,
the evening sky to Venus and a moon
so new it’s hardly there.
Miss the deal, the meeting, the wedding in Brazil.
leave the shadowless Atlantic to the whale,
its song the only sound sounding the deep
except the ocean swaying on its stem.
Let swarms of jets at quiet airports sleep.
The sky’s not been this clean since I was born.
Nothing’s overhead but pure blue silence
and skylarks spiralling into infinite space,
a pair of red kites flaunting in the air.
No mark, no plane-trail, jet-growl anywhere.

Reproduced with permission of Gillian Clarke, National Poet of Wales, April 2010

For more information about the National Poet of Wales visit:

~ Robyn

l-r: Julie (librarian), Robyn (director), Lisa (EMA archivist), Jane (marketeer), Peggy (me!), Richard (administrator), Lorna (education), Dave (library assistant); Malcolm Fraser, architect in front

l-r: Julie (librarian), Robyn (director), Lisa (EMA archivist), Jane (marketeer), Peggy (me!), Richard (administrator), Lorna (education), Dave (library assistant); Malcolm Fraser, architect in front

The day we announced our semi-finalist in the National Lottery awards status (have we already mentioned that..?) we had a photo shoot with a nice chap called Mark from the Edinburgh Evening News. Though our mugshots didn’t make it into the paper, Mark was kind enough to send us the pics, of which the above is one.

The voting window stays open until 10 July. Enough time to pack those votes in if you haven’t already, or sit back and enjoy the blessed breeze (on the weather cards for the next few days, hurrah!), if you have. We thank you if you have; we hope you will if you haven’t.

Carry a Poem…

June 26, 2009

Jane carries a poemOk, so Jane doesn’t actually carry the poem that means the most to her around in a cardboard box, but she does have it in her purse.

Robyn’s is in her diary. Mine’s in my head.

We want to know the poem that means the most to you. We want the story that goes with it. And we want to know how you carry it.

We’re searching for people’s most treasured poems – and we need your help. Can you spare five minutes to let us know about a poem that means a lot to you? Maybe it’s one you learned at school, and still know by heart. It could be a poem that was recited at your wedding, or that one that offered some consolation. Perhaps it calls to mind a particular place that’s special to you, or just cheers you up every time you read it. You might love your poem for its comforting familiarity, or its ability to unsettle you; because it takes you right inside yourself, or right outside; because it captures the way you see things, or helps you see things afresh.

As part of our ‘Carry a Poem’ campaign, we’re collecting people’s tales about poems that matter to them. We’re encouraging everyone to think about their vital poems and the stories that lie behind them, and we’re keen to learn about the poem choices of people all over Scotland, from all walks of life.

You’ll be able to read and listen to some of these poems and stories on our website, and maybe even in a publication of some kind. Your choice will strike a chord with people you’ve never met – and maybe you’ll discover a new treasured poem to carry with you.

– If you could only choose one poem to carry with you, what would it be? It can be by any poet, from any country and in any language.

 – Can you tell us about when you first heard or read your chosen poem? What did it make you think, see or feel? And what does it mean to you now?

 – Do you already carry it with you in any way – in your wallet or purse? In your diary? In your head or in your heart?

SPL of the Future…

May 28, 2009

There’s lots of websites we like. This may seem like a shabby, blatant plug, but honest guv, it’s a fair cop! – we’ve been doing a lot of head-scratching about where the SPL will be in ten years and thinking back to where we were ten years ago, when the internet was something that resided elsewhere, and emails were checked in an internet cafe up the road…

How things have changed! The Poetry Archive has made precious recordings available to all who want them, delicious treats from Tennyson intoning ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ to previously little-heard  Sylvia Plath poems and all manner of voices and poems in between. The Poetry Foundation offers a veritable repository of goods, from poems texts, to blogs to poems as art, and there’s a goodly amount of time to be whiled away slavering over the Poets’ House in NY. You can tap straight in to the thoughts of real people and only connect, via blogs, Facebook and Twitter. The world is our silicon chip.

Interweb aside, we’ve come a long way too, from 300 books in a single room to our current unique collection of 30,000 titles, our purpose-built Edinburgh home and our partner collections all over Scotland. And we’re taking this opportunity to consider where we should be in ten years time, and we need to know what you think, you our borrowers and supporters and friends. So please don your ceremonious thinking caps, and take some time to think about and reply to the two questions we’re asking. Your opinion really will help us shape the SPL of the future: 

1)      What is the most valuable thing about the SPL, which we mustn’t lose?

2)      What does the SPL look like ten years from now? Think big….

Ricoh’s staff review

April 7, 2009

Lilias displays Ricoh's mastery in the art of double-sided

Lilias displays Ricoh's mastery in the art of double-sided

Anything involving double-sided colour photocopies sorted and stapled was only the stuff of dreams before Ricoh came along. Lilias had hithertonow been putting off a printing task, haunted by ghosts of photocopiers past and dwams of precious time spent in guarding the printer and laborious sorting. She tested Ricoh’s limits just now and the good news is, he passed with flying colours! And saved enough time for Lilias to make a cup of tea and catch someone on the phone.  In the words of the Guillemots, there’s poetry in an empty coke can.