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Shetland Library News and Events

Book Groups
The sense of an ending by Julian Barnes

The next Lerwick Book Group meeting is on Tuesday 19 December, discussing The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes. Upcoming reads: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet. The group meets at the Old Library Centre in Lerwick at 7.30pm. New members are welcome: just contact Karen or Marghie here at the library if you want to join.

Check the book group page for more information on Book Groups in Shetland.

Click Shetland: ICT Drop-in Help @ Shetland Library
Click Shetland Logo

Need some help using computers and the Internet? Every Tuesday between 10am and 11am, Library staff will be available to help answer your computer queries. Drop along to the library for some friendly and informal help. If you can’t drop in at this time, you can phone us on 01595 743868 to arrange an appointment.

Basement Browsing
Basement Browsing

The Library basement will be open to the public on the first Saturday of every month from 2.00pm - 4.30pm. The entry door is down the ramp to the Learning Centre, behind the main Library. Come and browse or borrow those extra books you don't normally see.

Please note that children under eight must be accompanied by an adult.

Saturday Storytime

Storytime every Saturday 11.30am at the Library for the under-5s. Just come along, or contact staff for more details.

Da Fisherman's Wife Book Launch
Da Fisherman's Wife by Ann Marie Anderson

It's brilliant to once again be hosting Shetland author Ann Marie Anderson, launching her third Shetland dialect book for bairns- ‘Da Fisherman’s Wife’. The event will perfectly conclude this year’s Book Week Scotland, celebrating local culture with Shetland dialect, local musicians & a demonstration from the Shetland Peerie Makkers. We hope to see you there on Saturday 2nd December at 4pm!

Everest and Beyond: with author and filmmaker Matt Dickinson
Matt Dickinson in Yell libary

Author and filmmaker Matt Dickinson did a whistle-stop tour of Lerwick, Unst and Yell during Book Week Scotland (28 and 29 November 2017). He introduced us to his life as an award winning Director/Cameraman for National Geographic TV, Discovery Channel and the BBC. He has filmed on Everest’s summit (the first British film maker to do so and get back alive), in Antarctica, Greenland, Alaska and on top of the highest live volcano in the world. He had a little trouble getting here due to delayed flights, his progress followed avidly on the Radio 2 Simon Mayo show!

Author Ruth Eastham visit
Ruth Eastham in Shetland


Children's author Ruth Eastham visited Shetland on 29 November 2017 for Book Week Scotland, and captivated audiences in both Whalsay & Lerwick with the real-life mysteries and inspiration behind her books.


Book Launch
Across the Sound

On Saturday 25 November 2017 the Library welcomed the Unst Writers Group, who launched Across the Sound, an Unst Anthology. It is a lovely collection for writings from Unst and beyond, lavishly illustrated with lovely photos. Many of the book's contributors were in attendance to read extracts and spoke with keen folk wishing to buy the publication.

Book Sale
Book Sale

Book-lovers and bargain hunters were treated to a BIG sale of Shetland books and magazines, old literary classics and more on Saturday 25 November 2017.

Death in Shetland Waters
Marsali Taylor book launch


The Library were delighted to host author Marsali Taylor once again, launching the much-anticipated 6th Cass Lynch novel on Wednesday 22 November. A lightsome afternoon was had by all, with tea and homebakes, and the opportunity to buy the book and have it signed by the author.


Intergenerational Bookbug Session
Intergenerational Bookbug Session


There was an intergenerational Bookbug Session at Wastview Care Home in Walls on the 21st of November. The story for the session was Nick Sharratt’s Shark in the Park, and staff created a lovely fruit shark for the bairns to have as a snack.


Nothing to Hide, Nothing to Fear
Online privacy workshop

Nik Williams from Scottish PEN delivered a fascinating & informative workshop about online privacy at the Old Library Centre on 20 November 2017. Attendees were introduced to alternative tools and software to ensure increased privacy when using the internet. He also did a longer training event for staff next day, which was most interesting. Find out more about Scottish PEN here:

Our War in Words
Our War in Words

A trio of special WWI events was launched in the Library on Saturday 11 November 2017 with a poignant evening of readings, dramatic performances, poetry and letters from Shetland's war. Contributors included Shetland Youth Theatre, Erin Keenan, Laureen Johnson, Christian Tait, Ian Tait, Angus Johnson, Mark Sandison and Marsali Taylor. The event was part of our Shetland's War project, supported by the Scottish Government's Public Library Improvement Fund.

The Darkest Day
The Darkest Day

Shetland Museum and Archives hosted our Shetland's War event on 13 November 2017. We marked the 101st anniversary of the day in the Battle of Ancre when Shetland lost 20 men in one day. We screened a short film by J. J. Jamieson 'Private Andrew Williamson' (click link to view on YouTube). Also we heard 'Shetlanders and the Battle of the Ancre' - an illustrated lecture by Jon Sandison.

Women at the Front
Women at the Front

Author Marsali Taylor presented an illustrated lecture and book launch for the third of three November 'Shetland's War' events on 15 November 2017. Two fascinating subjects:

  • Dr Elsie Inglis and the Scottish Women's Hospital
  • The diaries of Ysabel Birkbeck, ambulance driver (Marsali's book 'Forgotten Heroines features the diaries).
Afternoon Tea with Millie Vigor
Millie Vigor

On 7 November 2017, Millie Vigor visited us to talk about and read from her new book Sweet Sorrow. Over a cuppa and a slice of cake Millie spoke about her new book, a romance with young lovers separated by World War II. Millie published her first fiction book in 2012 at the age of 85, and this one is her fifth - with one more at the publisher and another being drafted!

Ross Collins visits the library
Ross Collins

One of our favourite books to read to bairns is ‘There’s a Bear on my Chair’ by Ross Collins so it was a real delight to meet him in person. He was in Shetland for Wordplay in November 2017, and took the trouble not only to watch our Big Bookbug session, but visited the Library and drew us a very special picture. What a lovely author!

Big Bookbug goes down a bomb at Wordplay
Wordplay Bookbug

Five library staff put on a fantastic Bookbug at Wordplay on 3 November 2017, and an enthusiastic audience of 118 was very good at singing along! We were joined by author Mairi Hedderwick for the story – here she is with two of our Bookbug champs Morag Nicolson and Karen Malone.

Library features big in Shetland Life
Shetland Life

Shetland Life magazine did a lovely feature on us in their November 2017 edition, which focussed on literature. A three page spread highlighted a lot of the folk who use the library – from two-week old Lewis Gilfillan just joining up, to 83-year old Charles Abernethy sharing his father’s wartime diary with us.

Sharing eBooks with Scalloway 60s Club
Scalloway 60s club

In October 2017 Kaye and Louise ventured out to Scalloway 60s Club to show the members how to download and read our eBooks. Everyone really enjoyed the visit and our staff have been invited back next year to see how they are getting on. Our RB Digital site now offers eBooks, eMagazines and eAudiobooks all on the same app, so it’s starting to get a lot easier for users.

Conversations: New Short Plays by Jacqui Clark
Jacqui Clark

On Saturday 14 October join us for an evening of short plays by Jacqui Clark, Reading Champion entitled Conversations about books and reading and words and writers and libraries and Shetland. The plays star: Shaela Halcrow, Zoe Spence, Bob Lowes, Lynsey Rendall and Caroline Williamson Leask. This thought provoking and fun evening will also include a chance to see Birds of a Feather again, the revised and slightly funnier puppet show featuring a special guest appearance by #SuperSheltie. From 7.30pm – 9.30pm in the Shetland Library.

Julie is crowned Library Champion
Julie Thomson

In October 2017 Julie Thomson, who runs our community library in Unst, was awarded the title Public Library Champion 2017. The award is conferred by the Public and Mobile Libraries Group of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP). It recognises “the achievement of outstanding frontline public library staff that make a real difference to the people who use their library.” Julie does an amazing job putting her library at the centre of the community in Unst and richly deserved the trophy. Press release.

Battle with Orkney takes to the airwaves!
Catherine Jeromson

Our Twitter tussles with Orkney Library keep folk amused online, and on 11 October 2017 they reached an audience of millions. Chief Tweeter Catherine Jeromson ended up on Simon Mayo’s Radio 2 ‘Drivetime’ show, speaking about libraries with her Orkney opposite number John Peterson. They were a great advert for libraries, if perhaps more polite to each other than folk might have expected!

National Poetry Day
National Poetry Day

Thursday 28 September was National Poetry Day 2017 and the library celebrated the day with video clips of local celebrities reading poems from the free poetry cards. If you missed the day itself stop by the library to borrow some poetry books and pick up some free poetry postcards provided by the Scottish Poetry Library. You can also view all the videos on our Youtube channel.

Stitches from the Stacks
Stitches from the stacks

On Wednesday 27 September, in celebration of Shetland Wool Week, we had a special evening of browsing the library’s large collection of knitting and craft books. Knitters and crafters from near and far enjoyed delving into our books and sharing some “woolly chat”. If you weren’t able to join us that night do stop in and enjoy a browse of our collection any time. We even have a machine on hand for those all-important hot beverages.

Grab a Grown Up for Code Club
Code Club

Graduation Day for our Intermediate Code Club fell on 19 September 2017 during #NationalCodingWeek so we also held a 'Grab a Grown up Day'. Coders brought families along to see what they'd been learning. Congratulations to our coders, and thank you everyone or making it a great day.


Online Banking
Online Banking

Shetland Library held a successful extended Click session on Tuesday 19 September with Bank of Scotland digital champion Amy Anderson. She was on hand to answer customer queries about online banking and give expert advice on security and privacy. Questions ranged from how to install and set up banking apps to how safe it was to use online banking. She was keen for people to know that all banks would help customers who had questions about online services, and just to go in to their own bank and ask.

Bambeenies Baby and Children Show
Shetland Baby and Children Show awards

The second Bambeenies Baby and Children Show took place on the 2nd and 3rd of September 2017 at Clickimin, and Shetland Library had a busy two days promoting the service to parents, grandparents and older children. There were lots of enquiries and expressions of interest in what we do, but the highlight of the weekend was Bookbug winning the trophy for the Best Baby/Toddler Class for 0 -5 years.

Summer Reading Challenge 2017
Summer Reading Challenge 2017

This year’s Tesco Bank Summer Reading Challenge has been a huge success, with many children using the on-line information to solve the clues this year. More than 200 young readers have come regularly to the library over the holidays to borrow books and collect rewards. The Challenge is now being rolled out to schools in Mid Yell, Brae, Whalsay and Sandwick until the end of this term.

A Celebration of Jane Austen
Jane Austen event

Tuesday 18 July 2017 was the 200th anniversary of the death of the novelist Jane Austen. To celebrate her life and work the staff dressed in period costume during the day. In the evening the Westside Writers and the Library presented a programme of readings and quizzes. Many people wore Regency period costume and we all enjoyed the special Austen inspired refreshments.

Talking Newspaper goes digital

Shetland Library talking newspaper relaunch 2017

Shetland Library talking newspaper studio 2017

Photos by Dave Donaldson of our talking newspaper relaunch when we went digital in 2017. More information about the upgrade and the service in our press relese here.

Pictured are Library staff Thelma Miller, Pat Leask and Douglas Garden; volunteer reader Catherine Willn; work placement Neil Anderson; Karen Eunson, New Shetlander Committee; Adam Civio, Shetland Times Editor and Cecil Smith, Leader of Shetland Islands Council.

(click photos to enlarge)

Make A Noise In Libraries
Shetland Life Editor Genny White listens to our talking newspaper

In June 2017 we celebrated Make A Noise In Libraries, an RNIB annual promotion. It was a great chance to publicise ‘vision’ services like our talking newspaper, talking books, eBooks, eMagazines, large print, magnifiers and more. On 15 June we held a special drop in day, with an RNIB information stall, tea and homebakes. We featured on the RNIB blog and Simon Mayo’s Radio 2 show, so we did get heard on Make a Noise in Libraries week!

Large Print Phone Book launch 2017

Large Print Directory

Thank you to our funders RNIB Scotland, Vision Shetland and the Rotary Club of Shetland who helped make another large print local directory possible. It was launched on 15 June 2017 during our Make a Noise in Libraries celebrations. The phone book is available free from libraries and health centres, and you will find more information about services for the visually impaired printed on the covers.

Photo L to R, Theo Smith, Vice Chair of the Education and Families Committee; Hannah Bateson, RNIB Scotland; Karen Fraser, Shetland Library; David Anderson and Paul Bendix, Shetland Rotary.

Code Club – Using Scratch Coding Language
Code Club

Does your 9 - 11 year old child have a keen interest in all things computers?
Sign them up for our Code Club! Our latest beginners class is now full but we'll run ones again in the Autumn if there are still folk interested. Our improvers classes begin Tuesday 8 August. All classes are held from 4pm - 5pm and are free.
Contact the library to register or for more information.

Performance Report
Shetland Library performance report image

In May 2017 we published our annual peformance report - it's a bit of a report card on how we've done in financial year 2016/17 and our aims for the coming year. You can read it by clicking on the image to the left or find it on our Performance page.

Code Club

Shetland Library Code Club first graduates

Congratulations to our first Code Club graduates Sven, James, Bryden, Helen and Keira (though they didn't all stay around for the photo!) in April 2017. Thanks also to our Erin and Louise who ran the classes. the project was supported by the Scottish Library and Information Council as part of the National Strategy for Libraries 'Digital Inclusion' strand. We used the free online Scratch coding language for activities. Watch out for more Code Clubs coming soon!

Elmer Day
Elmer Day

Saturday 27 May was Elmer Day, and parents and children came along to the Old Library Centre from 11am till 1pm to listen to stories, do word searches and colour in. Everyone got a special Elmer sticker at the end of the session.

Bookbug's Big Giggle

Bookbug’s Big Giggle took place in the Shetland Museum auditorium on Friday 19th May. With 136 participants, it was a very lively session. As well as the usual songs and rhymes, there was a Pass the Bookbug game plus lots of fun with lycra sheets and puppets.

Books of a Feather
Books of a Feather

On Friday 21 April we celebrated World Book Night a bit early with a very special grown up puppet show, Books of a Feather. The show was written by local writers and people who love reading and directed by our Reading Champion, Jacqui Clark. It was a laugh-out-loud evening topped off with a free World Book Night book.

Bring me sunshine...
Shetland Library sunshine seat flyer

It can sometimes seem like a long dark winter in Shetland, so in March 2017 we trialled a 'SAD' daylight lamp in the Library - customers were welcomed to try basking in front of it while reading their magazines. If it is popular it may return next winter, so do have a try and let us know what you think.

A big achievement for a library customer

Bill Adams presenting book to Shetland Library

Veteran Shetland marathon runner Bill Adams completed his 451st half-marathon in Februrary 2017. Being an avid library user, Bill knew 451 wasn't just any old number, and decided to present us with a new copy of Ray Bradbury's classic 'Fahrenheit 451' to mark the occasion. The Shetland Times also ran a feature on his remarkable running career, which includes a good placing in the New York marathon. Bill uses Library computers to research runs and arrange his travel so we are glad we have helped!


Christianity and Islam: Points of Unity and Misunderstanding
Christianity and Islam

On 11 April Shetland Inter Faith hosted a thought provoking evening at the library. Dr Lameh Fananapizir, author of “Islam at the Crossroads” gave a talk entitled Christianity & Islam: Points of Unity & Misunderstanding discussing the similarities between these two major religions. Dr Fananapizir very kindly donated his book to the library.

Shetland Community Choices - Promoting Bookbug Extra

Bookbug really does help give bairns the very best start in life. In March 2017 we took part in and promoted the Shetland Community Choices 'participatory budgeting' scheme and tried to win funding for 'Bookbug Extra'. This project would have established sessions in Whalsay and Scalloway and increased access to sessions elsewhere. Unfortunately despite great support we were not one of the projects to win. However, it was a great chance to promote Bookbug and we thank everyone who voted for us.

Coding Club - coming soon to the Library

Shetland staff get coding training

Coding - being creative with free computer programming launguages like #Scratch - is gettiing popular. To help young people get interested in coding we will be running clubs in the Library and in Mid Yell school library. In February 2017 the Scottish Library and Information Council sponsored training for all Scottish libraries. Since a trainer came all the way to Shetland, our staff turned out enthusiatically to find out more!

What difference does the Library make to your life?

Image result for customer survey

Thanks to everyone who filled in our customer survey - the results are now in and we have retained last year's record 93% satisfaction rating! There is also a fascinating range of answers to our main question 'What difference does the Library make to your life?'. This information is all really valuable to us and the positve feedback is very gratifyinig. Please take a look at the survey report over on our Performance page.


Build your own Galley Kit

Galley kits

For Up Helly Aa 2017 our customers could again pick up one of our popular 'Build your own galley kits' (free but donations welcome) at the Library or download and print from the links below.

Galley kit (best printed on card)

Galley kit instructions

A brief history of Up Helly Aa

World Book Day
World Book Day

World Book Day was celebrated on the 2 March in the main library, and in all the staffed school libraries in Shetland.

The main library welcomed school groups and early years groups and Morag and Marghie visited Dunrossness and Sandwick school libraries during the day.

Baltasound held a fancy dress and Readathon plus a host of other activities, Aith organised a costume parade plus activities, the AHS had crafts and quizzes. There was a Scholastic Book Fair and a Where’s Wally search as part of a large number of events at Sandwick, and Brae held a Reading Week with lots of fiction promotion throughout the school.

Most borrowed books of 2016

Lee Child Make Me

In 2016 it finally happened! Ann Cleeves was unseated after eight years at the top of the adult fiction borrowing stats, and Lee Chld was the man to do it. We are sure Ann will come back fighting next year. Jeff Kinney continued to be unstoppable, taking all ten top ten places in the junior chart but other authors did well too, as bairns are reading a LOT. Great performance by Laureen Johnson who took first and third place in the Shetland chart as editor of the No 1 book and translator of No 3. Our eAudio is proving popular, especially for Harry Potter fans. Read more here.

La La Library Land
Jacqui Clark Reading Champion

On 7 February 2017 the Library was packed out for a celebration of libraries. First we had a ‘stakeholders tea’ so people could meet visiting assessors from How Good is Your Public Library. It was followed by an evening hosted by Jacqui Clark, Reading Champion. First, J.J. Jamieson showed the premiere of his new short film about Annette’s mobile library, then a great programme of readings, poetry and music. Thank you everyone who made it such a great night.

Harry Potter Book Night Celebration
Harry Potter Book Night

Shetland Library celebrated Harry Potter Booknight on Thursday 2 February, with six teams of young people taking part in what turned out to be an exciting and competitive evening! The Booknight quiz had four rounds, followed by a tiebreaker activity to decide the winners. Fifth equal were Fawkes and the Phoenixes and Dumbledore’s Army, 4th place went to Gryffindor A, third to Gryffindor is the Best,2nd to the Winning Weasleys and the winners, by one point, were the Golden Snitches. Well done everyone who took part!

Up Helly Aa Bookbug
Shetland tot enjoys Up Helly Aa Bookbug

Shetland Library, along with colleagues from Shetland Museum and Archives, held a successful Bookbug Up Helly Aa session in the Museum Auditorium on Saturday 21 January. 90 children turned up,along with 78 adults, and after 20 minutes of songs from Morag Nicolson, Marghie West and Erin Keenan, Trevor Jamieson led a procession of tiny torchbearers through to Da Gadderie where a peerie galley awaited them for finale.

3D printing in the Library

3D printing in Shetland Library

In Autumn 2016 we got a free 3D printer for the Library. This is funded by the Scottish Government and the project, run through the Scottish Library and Information Council aims to increase interest in ever-changing digital technology. We are demonstrating the printer in the Library foyer and you can find out more about it at our Click ICT drop-in sessions.

A whole advent of library news...

Tavish Scott MSP in the Library for Christmas 2016

We celebrated Christmas 2016 in the Library and online with a giant advent calendar made of books tied up with teensy winter scarves. Each day a book was opened by a celebrity guest - these included Tavish Scott MSP, Donald S. Murray, Averil Simpson and the 'Library Ghost' - to reveal something special about the Library.

Every Child is a Library Member!

P1 Sound School with Shetland Library

The Scottish Government promotes the value of library cards for children. We already had good membership, but extra work was needed to ensure bairns in the big Lerwick primaries and Scalloway cluster all got the chance to join. After a huge round of book gifting and promotional work in November 2016, Librarian Morag Nicolson now feels she can safely say every P1 child in Shetland is a Library member! Well done Morag and special thanks to all the parents and schools who helped.


Reading Champion

Jacqui Clark is Scottish Book Trust's Reading Champion at Shetland Library in 2016. She has been working with us to help deliver innovative projects around reading. More information about Reading Champions
Jacqui Clark - Reading Champion

'The book group that's not a book group but kinda is...''

Join the Facebook group to find out more.

Reading Champ's 101 Words blog

Reading Champion press release

Creative Writing Workshops

The Saturday Sessions

The Saturday Sessions were an opportunity for local writers to develop a small collection of written works inspired by Shetland Library and which explored how reading influenced their own writing. A total of 6 writers shared their work in the Library during Book Week Scotland in an event entitled 'Our Library, Our Stories'. Thanks to everyone who took part.

Yell Writers' Group Book Launch

A Gutcher Gadderie

Yell writers aged from 15 to 80+ delighted a library audience at the launch of their anthology ‘A Gutcher Gadderie’ on 2 December 2016. The writing was carefully chosen, hugely varied and very talented. The readings were very assured, the pieces varying from poignant to hilarious. The book can be borrowed from the Library or bought locally.

Marsali Taylor Book Launch
Ghosts of the Vikings by Marsali Taylor

On 30 November 2016 Marsali Taylor launched Ghosts of the Vikings the latest in her popular Cass Lynch/Shetland Sailing mystery series at the library. The library has been pleased to provide the location for the launch of each of the five books in the series. In this instalment, set in Unst, there are treasure hunters, opera stars and a ruthless killer...we will have to read the book to find out what happens!

Old Library 50 Year Anniversary 'Open Day'
Old Library

On 2 July 2016 we held an Open Day in the old library/museum to celebrate the 50 year anniversary of the building and also to consult about the planned upgrade and repair. An exhibition of information and old photos is still up in our lobby. The public survey is now closed but we'd still like to hear from people. We will put information online soon about the survey feedback.

Old Library refurbishment project web page

Evening classes and more
Learn button

If you are interested in courses and classes available locally, check the Shetland College programme of part-time and evening courses here - or pick up a brochure in the Library. The Council's Adult Learning department will launch a further programme of community courses soon - check the Adult Learning website here for details.

Help with budgeting

Ways to Save Booklet Front Cover

We all know the Library is a great way to save, by taking advantage of free computer use, books, music, film, newspapers, magazines...well, need we go on? Community Planning and development has published a handy booklet with other handy contacts that might help with budgeting. Download the Ways to Save booklet here [PDF]


News Archive 2016

News Archive 2015

News Archive 2014

News Archive 2013

News Archive 2012

News Archive 2011

News Archive 2010

News Archive 2009

News Archive 2008

News Archive 2007

News Archive 2006


Last Updated on 08 December 2017

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