The story of our city libraries

For Sport in Libraries Week in August 1992, a man sits reading a book on fencing at Central Library in George IV Bridge while two fencers practice behind him. Picture: TSPL

For Sport in Libraries Week in August 1992, a man sits reading a book on fencing at Central Library in George IV Bridge while two fencers practice behind him. Picture: TSPL

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IT is escapism of the best form – getting stuck into a book.

And it seems crime and travel are the most preferred genres for readers across ­Edinburgh after figures ­released by the city’s library service revealed bloodshed and death, along with holiday handbooks, led the way on a run-down of the most ­borrowed titles.

John Ryan, creator of the Captain Pugwash books, with children at Muirhouse library in August 1983. Picture: TSPL

John Ryan, creator of the Captain Pugwash books, with children at Muirhouse library in August 1983. Picture: TSPL

This week, findings showed the bulk of books ranked in the top 20 for 2014 were crime heavy, whereas the non-fiction chart was dominated by guides to classic European destinations. Bestselling ­author Ian Rankin – whose novels Saints Of The Shadow Bible, Standing In Another Man’s Grave and The Impossible Dead all feature in the top 20 – said: “The human race is fascinated by good and evil, and Edinburgh’s literary tradition is full of great books about good and evil – about why people do bad things to each other, whether you’re talking about Miss Jean Brodie or Jekyll and Hyde.

“These are books with a strong moral centre – that’s what crime fiction does. And in the present day you have lots of good crime writers coming out of Scotland.”

The popular literary figure stressed the importance of the city’s libraries, while praising them for flourishing in challenging economic times.

Libraries across the ­Lothians have generated many memories for visitors over the years, as our pictures here show.

Indras the elephant at Leith Public Library in January 1976. Picture: TSPL

Indras the elephant at Leith Public Library in January 1976. Picture: TSPL

Such would have been the case for the youngsters who visited Muirhouse Library – right – back in August 1983 when Captain Pugwash creator John Ryan read to a keen audience.

And in January 1976, who could ever again forget to ­return their books after Indras the Elephant joined in a memorable appeal at Leith Library?