New library opens at Portobello primary school after two year ‘collective effort’

Bursting at the seams, two years ago, Towerbank Primary School was forced to pack its books into boxes and declare the library closed.

Celebrity guest opening is CBBC presenter Katrina Nina Bryan from Nina and Neurons. Pic: Lisa Ferguson
Celebrity guest opening is CBBC presenter Katrina Nina Bryan from Nina and Neurons. Pic: Lisa Ferguson

But the culmination of a gargantuan effort with the might of the school community and huge support from local companies, has resulted in a new chapter for the school.

Yesterday, CBBC presenter Katrina “Nina” Bryan from Nina and Neurons declared the school’s new library officially open much to the delight of the 700-strong pupil population.

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The Portobello primary is the largest in Edinburgh and when space was at a premium, unfortunately the staff had to make a tough choice and close the library to make way for teaching.

But creative parents, teachers and pupils have worked tirelessly over weekends to bring two resource rooms into one to create a brand new library.

Head teacher Alasdair Friend said he is amazed at what has been achieved by a group effort.

“Last couple of years has seen the most amazing collective response from school staff and particularly the parents as well as the wider community,” he added. “We involved the children at multiple stages such as choosing which books would go into the library, as well as taking children to book shops – they’ve been involved all along the way.”

Pupils have helped to design the labelling systems and have written letters to publishers urging them to help donate resources.

“Without the parents, the staff and the support of free skills from the local community this simply would not have happened,” added Mr Friend.

Parent Onyema Ibe, who has been instrumental in transforming the blank canvas of the new room into a colourful and creative space, said the project had been a huge team effort.

“Everyone has played a key role in the library and that’s what has been lovely about this process – it’s something the whole school has got behind, what parent doesn’t want their child’s school to have a library?

“Event though there was a shortage of space we have managed to reconcile what we had which has now turned out to be an amazing creative space for the children to use for more than just reading.

“Reading for enjoyment is massively important in terms of combatting social exclusion – reading can cross boundaries and it is a brilliant addition to Towerbank Primary.

The school is aiming to stock the recommended 10 books per child and are working towards grants to allow them to bolster the shelves.

“We’re doing alright at the moment,” added Onyema. “But we need more. It is a challenge as everywhere is strapped for money but we will keep on applying for grants and funding.”