Friday, 28 January 2011


It is the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend! Take an hour to count all the different birds that are in your garden and record them on the RSPB website. See here for details.

Don't worry about seeming uncool, birdwatching's totally in style right now! Camp out in your garden with a stool, sandwiches, notebook and wine box (what?) and you have the makings of a great afternoon. All the cool kids are doing it and birds are cute. We were terribly excited a couple of winters ago when some waxwings began to visit the back of the library to partake of the berries which grow beside the staff car park.

Yeah, you read right, we were excited by birds. We are librarian/archivists okay, whaddya expect?

Aaaagggh!!! They're so tame and cute!!

Below are some images taken from a book of Orkney postcards, each stamped, clearly dated and filed in a Stanley Gibbons folder. Other images shown include St Magnus Cathedral, The Churchilll Barriers, The Old Man Of Hoy, Dounby. Firth, Skara Brae, Stromness, The Standing Stones of Stenness and various other local scenes. The dates range from 1967 - 1971. Also included at the front of the album are four date stamps on squares of paper dating from 1848 and 1852.

I have also scanned a list of (stuffed?) Orkney birds which were being offered for sale by a Mr James Petrie in the latter years of the 19th century.

References:  Postcards- D1/1028, List - D1/321/9

Thursday, 27 January 2011

The Wonder That Is A Library

We are lucky in Orkney that our wonderful, hard-working, nice-smelling, intellectually awe-inspiring, well-dressed, kind, sparkling-witted and drop dead gorgeous council are not threatening to do away with our libraries, but sadly this is not the case in many counties.

This speech by Philip Pullman is all over the internet at the moment and is well worth a read.

Friday, 21 January 2011

The Problem With Topical Comedy...

One of our latest acquisitions is this small bundle of postcards. The drawings are fantastic and we would like to know who the artist is...

The images all refer to the Bay of Firth Oyster Fishery and are obviously meant to be humorous but we don't really understand the joke. Something to do with oysters...

Tee hee...

Very droll, I'm sure...

Stop! My sides!

The Syndicate of work!

Insect powder in some bellows, powering a jumper-sailed boat... hilarious!

Monday, 17 January 2011

How SLIC are we?

All of you old-skool readers may remember this post about a very successful inspection of the Orkney Library and Archive.

Well, the inspection has led to a Scottish Library Excellence award from the Scottish Library Information Council (SLIC). Hoorah!

Our Library and Archive manager is travelling down to the awards ceremony which, inexplicably, shall not be televised, to accept what we hope shall be a solid gold, jewel encrusted trophy. Some manner of crown and sceptre set I should imagine. His speech is prepared, Cheryl Cole-style epaulets have been affixed to a spangly jacket and the dance routine has long been perfected and memorised.

The archive department did particularly well in the assessment, scoring 6 out of 6 for generally being a completely brilliant local studies collection.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Still Clinging Onto Christmas...

We had a Christmas Night out. It was mental. Some staff members are still missing and at least three were arrested, one for public indecency and the other two for fraud.

If you have absolutely nothing else to do with your day, perhaps you would like to test your wits with our post-dinner quiz. The only prize is pride.

Round one:

Select the correct words to find the names of Christmas Songs:

a) The ideal reference room is noisy/silent/smelly
b) You clean your teeth in the morning and at night/work/the pub

Song Title:

a) Amy Tan wrote the joy/good/bad luck club
b) ‘It Takes One/Two/Three’ sang Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston
c) John Irving wrote ‘The World/ The Situation/The Story According to Garp’.

Song Title:

a) What is this man’s catch phrase?  
b)How would one ‘Row, row, row the boat’? Swiftly/Happily/Merrily
c)Katrina and the Waves were ‘Walking on/with/o’er Sunshine’.
d)Name the Nick Hornby novel Low/High/Less Fidelity.

Song Title:

a) Bette Midler starred in the Best/ First/Ex Wives Club
b) What is this young man’s first name?

Song Title:

a) Stephanie Cole starred in the sit-com ‘Waiting For Death/Santa/God.’
b) Americans call toilets potty/ rest/ hygiene rooms.
c) If one was a cowboy and excited, one would shout Gee/Yee/Whopee Ha!
d) What is the first name of the Lord of The Rings Character shown above?
e) Name the Shakespeare play: The two Ladies/Gentlemen/Knights of Verona.

Song Title:

a) Complete the name of the song: Me, Myself and You/ I /Love
b) The modern horror film franchise named after a tool is Saw/Hammer/Wrench
c) Bananarama released ‘It Ain’t What You Do’ with the Fun Boy Gang/ Crew/ Three
d) The Pinto, Mayflower and Santa Maria were all ships/ jewels/ churches

Song Title:

a) Urine is a fancy word for wee/poo/mucus
b) Charles Bronson starred in the film ‘Death Star/ Strike/ Wish’.
c) Elvis sang a song called ‘The Wonder of Love/ Christmas/ You’.
d) What is the first letter of this group’s name?
e) If someone is tipsy, you may describe them as merry/ cheerful/ content.
f) Clement C. Moore wrote ‘The Night Before Santa/Christmas/ Yule

Song Title:

Round 2:

Quick Fire Round:

  1. What year did Whitney Houston get to number 1 with ‘I Will Always Love You?’
  2. What is the name of Ebenezer Scrooge’s dead colleague whose ghost appears at the beginning of ‘A Christmas Carol’.
  3. How many of Santa’s Reindeer’s names begin with the letter ‘D’?
  4. Which artist sang the opening lines of the first version of Band Aid’s ‘Feed The World?’
  5. The three kings were named Balthazar, Melchior and ………?
  6. In the song ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’, what did the singer’s true love give to them on the tenth day?
  7. Christmas Island is part of which country?
  8. Which monarch is said to have introduced the Christmas Tree to Britain?
  9. Glogg, Gluwein, Vin Chaud, what is the British term for this festive drink?
  10. Name the four Pevensie children in ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’.
  11. Who starred as ‘The Grinch’ in the Hollywood adaptation of ‘The Grinch Who Stole Christmas’?
  12. Which Christmas carol contains the lines :

And His shelter was a stable,
And His cradle was a stall:
With the poor, and mean, and lowly,
Lived on earth our Saviour holy.

  1. Name the angel who saves James’ Stewart’s life in ‘Its A Wonderful Life.’
  2. Which British Republican leader is said to have personally banned Christmas?
  3.  In what year did the only Woman’s Christmas Day Ba’ take place?
  4.  What is the calendar date of the twelfth day of Christmas also known as The Feast of Epiphany?
  5. Which company is credited with introducing the now obligatory red Santa costume in their 1930s advertising campaign?
  6. Which muppet played the part of Bob Cratchet in ‘A Muppet’s Christmas Carol?
  7. What was the Christmas Number two last year?
  8. Which animated duo appear on the Royal Mail’s Christmas Stamps this year?

Round three, name the artists, their Christmas number ones and the years that the reached the top spot:

Friday, 7 January 2011

Toodle Poo

We are still in the post-festive lazy slump here. It seems terrible enough that we have to arise before 8am, actually go outside and do some work, and almost inconceivable that archives could be selected, scanned and commented upon for the visual pleasure of cyber readers.

Such work when one has been used to spending entire days flicking Quality Street down one's throat whilst watching The Snowman and Enchanted for the hundredth time each simply because the remote control is outwith arm's reach seems both unachievable and wrong.

This lovely Kirkwall Town Borough Testimonial passed through my lazy hands as part of an enquiry, however, and the scanner is only two centimetres away from said hands:

The testimonial is in support of the character and the "natural genius for drawing and painting", of William H F Strange Petrie and dates from 1810. It is inscribed at the top of the page with Deus Nobiscum - 'God is with us' which is the Kirkwall town motto.

Well, that  has been exhausting. Time to lick a finger and chase the last of the Christmas biscuit crumbs from the inside of the tin. But first, here is a picture of Noel Edmonds:

Archive Reference D1/379