Meet our team: Grace Balfour-Harle – Student Liaison

Another Monday, another ‘Meet Our Team’! This week we’re talking to postgrad student Grace Balfour-Harle about her role as Student Liaison, her experience with #NapierBigRead and the upcoming release of Detective McLevy’s Casebook

Describe your role in the Big Read? What is it that you do?

I am the Student Liaison which means I represent the Napier Big Read team when coordinating with externals, and directly to the students. I have conducted interviews with some external volunteers, and am in discussion with all the class representatives for our big launch date on World Book Day on 1st March 2018.

Why did you decide to volunteer for the Big Read scheme?

At my undergraduate university, there was a kind of Big Read scheme, but nothing really was done about it beyond the academic side of it, so I was really excited to get involved with Napier’s Big Read team and send the message directly to the students.

Why do you think this project is important for the university?

A shared reading programme brings people together who wouldn’t necessarily meet otherwise. A more cohesive university will allow students and staff to learn more about each other, and ultimately become better people. The Napier Big Read is not going to bring everyone together, but every small action will result in one big movement for the betterment of the university.

Why should students be enthusiastic about the Big Read?

This is a student-run project, making it very easy for students to get behind it. Who gets students more than students? It has the aim of pulling us all together, which is one of the stand-firsts of Edinburgh Napier University. We are one team, and so the Napier Big Read allows students to connect with everyone and anyone, bringing our team closer together.

How can students get involved?

There are so many things that you can do to get involved, including just reading the book! It might inspire you to set up an event, or just have a nice coffee shop chat with a friend. Societies can theme one of their meetings around the book; Sports could play a game dressed in Victorian dress, or run a themed social. It really just depends on your imagination.

Just for fun, what’s your favourite book?

I have a few books that I’ve re-read continuously from childhood like the Anne of Green Gables series, Harry Potter, and The Great Gatsby. I also love all of Charles Dickens’ work. But obviously, at the moment, my favourite book is Detective McLevy’s Casebook.


Alumni Views: Kirstin Lamb – Project Manager of Detective McLevy’s Casebook (first edition)

Welcome to this new interview section entitled Alumni Views. This section will tell you about individuals connected with #NapierBigRead starting with Kirstin Lamb. Kirstin is currently the PR and Rights Manager at Barrington Stoke, and an alum of the MSc Publishing course at Edinburgh Napier University. During her time at Edinburgh Napier, she was part of the team that brought Detective McLevy’s Casebook to life.

What was your role in creating the first edition of Detective McLevy’s Casebook?

I was the Project Manager.

Why did you choose to publish Detective McLevy’s Casebook for your university project?

It was actually a blend of two proposed projects – each student created a publication plan for a different Scottish book complete with marketing and promo plans. Then the group voted on the title to work on and we took the marketing ideas from another similar title proposal to round out the project.

What was the best part of the process?

Holding the finished copy in my hands was incredible – after all that work, we had our very own book! Then we launched at the inaugural Bloody Scotland festival in Stirling, where we had organised our own author panel discussion and handed out free copies to attendees – that was pretty special, and a wonderful conclusion to the project.

What was the biggest challenge you faced?

We were running con-current projects at the time – it was exciting to publish two paperback books and an e-book simultaneously for the real-world publishing experience, but it definitely stretched our limits at times. We then hosted two separate launches in the summer. Fortunately, our collective nerve held out!

How useful was working on this project in terms of your future career?

Working on a real-life publishing project was invaluable. It gave all the students an insight into the departmental structure and collaborative nature of publishing, and specifically for myself, it really cemented that I was keen to work in a small publishing house, as I love following a title’s journey through and having input at different stages.

What message would you pass on to new readers of Detective McLevy’s Casebook?

I hope that new settlers in Edinburgh will enjoy exploring this snippet of the city’s varied past, and that all readers will relish the opportunity to dip in and out of this collection. The Napier Big Read is a brilliant initiative and I hope every student takes a moment to enjoy some reading for pleasure!

Meet our team: Damarys Campos – Website Manager & Graphic Designer

It’s Monday, which means another ‘Meet Our Team’! This week we have Publishing postgrad student Damarys Campos, our website manager and graphic designer. She’ll talk about her roles in this year’s #NapierBigRead, how to get involved, and what to look forward to in Detective McLevy’s Casebook

Describe your role in the Big Read? What is it that you do?

I’m the website manager, which means handling the webpage where you’re reading this very interview. I organise, style, and sometimes write the content that’s created for the Big Read. On the other hand, I’m also the graphic designer. I create the visuals needed for the project. Some of these include the website banner, the profile images used in the ‘Meet Our Team’ interviews, the email signature, and more.

Why did you decide to volunteer for the Big Read scheme?

I was really excited to take part on a project of this scale. I loved the idea of the whole university community reading the same book together. Being able to take part of the planning and execution of the Big Read has been a valuable learning experience.   

Why do you think this project is important for the university?

It’s very special when a group of people can unite and share something together, and the Big Read is a perfect example of this. This year, through Detective McLevy’s Casebook, students and staff alike can experience the book together, start a conversation, and get to know about the real-life inspiration behind the well-known Sherlock Holmes.

Why should students be enthusiastic about the Big Read?

First of all, and most importantly, you get the book for free! Who doesn’t love free things, especially books? With this one in particular, you’ll get to explore Victorian Edinburgh through the cases Detective McLevy investigated. And, if you’re feeling a bit adventurous, you could even visit some of the places where the stories take place.

How can students get involved?

Right now, you can take part by donating a book at the Big Read Bookcases that are placed throughout all three campuses. Make sure to do it soon! They’ll only be up until the 14th of February. Also, be sure to follow NapierBigRead on social media to get notified of all the great things coming your way soon.

Just for fun, what’s your favourite book?

My favourite book is Destination Unknown by Agatha Christie. It has mystery,  a secret organization, espionage, and Poirot’s unique wit. The copy I own is very special to me. It was printed in 1955 and gifted to me by one of my closest friends.

Meet our team: Sarah Marks & Elizabeth Eagan – Communications Managers

#NapierBigRead ‘Meet Our Team’ is back. This week we’re talking to postgrad students Elizabeth Eagan and Sarah Marks about what they do and why you should be excited for the release of Detective McLevy’s Casebook. We’re also revealing how you can get involved and even offering a few lucky people the chance to get your hands on a copy of the book before it’s been released.

Describe your role in the Big Read. What do you do?

Both: We manage Communications for #NapierBigRead. It is our responsibility to keep track of the activities and progress of each team and to keep everyone well informed. Being a small team, this requires effective planning, coordination, and sometimes, deadlines! Our main tasks involve liaising between teams and departments, scheduling and planning, and keeping an updated database of Big Read contacts. As the Big Read is a collaborative project, we are also members of #NapierBigRead’s Social Media Team, regularly engaging with our followers on Twitter.

Why did you decide to volunteer for the Big Read scheme?

E: Dedicating time each week to support the Big Read scheme, and contribute to the promotion of this year’s book Detective McLevy’s Casebook was an easy decision for me to make. I am enthusiastic about the scheme’s aim to inspire and bring together students and staff in the university through reading, creating a sense of community. I share the Big Read’s belief in the power of reading to positively impact people’s lives, and I thought it would be a great way to get to know and work with my fellow students.

S: Having the opportunity to get hands-on experience with projects like this is one of the reasons why I chose to study at Napier. It’s really rewarding to work as a team towards a tangible goal and it gives us as students the chance to explore different roles in publishing before we leave university.

What are you most excited about for the Big Read?

E:  I love the fact that anyone in the university can participate and enjoy this reading scheme, not just the typical booklover. This is a fantastic chance to be a part of something in the wider community of the university and to get to know other students and staff also reading the book. If you live in Edinburgh and enjoy exploring, then this is also your opportunity to visit some of McLevy’s old haunts, and some truly interesting spots!

S: Detective McLevy’s Casebook is right up my street. I love reading about real life historical characters and can’t wait to share that with other people! It’s amazing getting to see what old Edinburgh was like through the eyes of the #RealSherlockHolmes. Plus, I love the sassy lady thief that McLevy describes in the first chapter, you can tell he secretly admires her ingenuity and skill!

Why do you think this project is important for the university?

Both: The shared reading experience that this project represents holds so much potential for students and staff. It’s a great icebreaker and an easy way to get people talking across departments. It also provides international students with an engaging means of getting to grips with the city, its history and culture. And of course, the close ties to Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes have definitely helped us garner a really enthusiastic response to the book so far. It’s all very exciting!

How can students get involved?

Both: Students can get involved by engaging with our various social media platforms. Find us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @NapierBigRead. This is where you will hear about #NapierBigRead related events and the eagerly awaited release date of the book.  Of course, we’re also very open to potential collaborations. If students in other schools within the university are interested in working on the project with us, then simply get in touch with your ideas. We’ll be happy to chat with you!

We’d also love to know what you think about the book. So if you just can’t wait to get your hands on #DetectiveMcLevy’sCasebook then get in touch via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and tell us why you should be given pre-release proofs and the chance to review the book before it hits campus!

Just for fun, what are you reading just now?

E: I’ve only just got around to starting The Wiseman’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. I love a good fantasy book and really enjoyed The Name of the Wind, the first novel of the series, so very happy to get stuck into this one.

S: I’ve actually just finished reading Pat Barker’s Regeneration which is set, coincidentally, here in Edinburgh – at Craiglockhart actually. It’s the story of a psychologist working at the hospital there during the First World War and features Siegfried Sassoon quite heavily. It’s a great book, one that negotiates the issue of war in a really sympathetic and interesting way.  

Meet our team: Bethany Kyle – Social Media Manager

With this year’s #NapierBigRead well underway, the Big Read team has been dedicated to promoting this year’s book, Detective McLevy’s Casebook. Our Social Media Manager, and current MSc Publishing student at Edinburgh Napier, Bethany Kyle, gives us an insight into her role and tells us why we should get involved in #NapierBigRead

Why did you decide to volunteer for the Big Read scheme?

I volunteered for the Big Read because I was excited about it! Not only does it offer the chance to receive a free book – every booklover’s favourite thing – it offers the chance to get to know people outside of your course. In my last university, we didn’t have a community event and it is exciting to now study at a university that offers that.

Describe your role in the Big Read. What is it that you do?

My role is the Social Media Manager. Some of my management duties include liaising with my team to ensure each page is equally promoting the Big Read, engaging with tweets and analysing the statistics these tweets reach. As a team, we are keeping up to date with posting, liking, following – this is achieved through developing a social media strategy. It’s also my job to remain alert to what is going on with sites such as Twitter, or to anything that relates to #NapierBigRead, and then engage with that thread or trend. This means my phone needs to remain close to me, which isn’t usually a problem!

Why should students be enthusiastic about the Big Read?

We should be enthusiastic because this year’s book is based right here in Edinburgh, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. We can become literary tourists as many locations are mentioned and then we can visit. The Big Read is inviting people to fall in love with literature again. In a world that is fast-paced, books provide a sweet escape to relax from the pressure of life. They are a time-out zone.

What value do you think this project holds for the university? Why should people get involved?

This project holds so much potential for the Edinburgh Napier University. It puts it on the map as being a university that not only loves literature, but the city it lives in. And Edinburgh is recognised as a city of literature! Therefore, people should get involved, because you’ll be a part of something big.

How can students get involved?

Follow us on social media! We have a Twitter, Facebook and Instagram account. Here you will be able to see the latest updates on what is going on, such as events and you can follow our hashtag #NapierBigRead. Look out for information on the screens around campus, even ask your lecturers what they know about the Big Read.

How do you find time to read for pleasure as well as keeping up with a full university timetable? Do you have any tips for other students?

I set aside some time each night to read a couple of chapters before I sleep. It helps me to unwind after being in class all day or completing assignments. Currently, I’m making way through Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and really enjoying it. So, my tip for those wishing to read but have a full-on course is, read little and read often. Pick up a book in your study breaks rather than your phone.

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