Frequently Asked Questions

Some of the things we are asked about Glasgow Women’s Library – and the answers! If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for here, try searching the site, or contact us.

Is Glasgow Women’s Library only for women?

No. GWL is open to all, and is free, friendly, inclusive and welcoming.

Are all your activities and courses for women only?

No. GWL is funded to provide high quality specialised learning programmes and events for women, however some of our activities and events are mixed. For example, we welcome men on most of our public Women’s Heritage walking tours and men can come along to many of the book launches and other events in our calendar. Women-only events will always be clearly marked.

What does ‘women only’ mean?

GWL recognises that women can thrive and foster skills and knowledge in spaces which are orientated around women and their lives and experiences. We also seek to redress sexism, discrimination and misogyny by promoting the lives, work, histories and achievements of women from a range of backgrounds. For these reasons, some of our events, classes and workshops are for women only, and sometimes are targeted at specific groups in particular, for example transwomen, Women of Colour or lesbians.

GWL is sensitive and inclusive of all gender and sex identities, and we recognise the complexity and limitations of language that can occur when describing gender specific events. All women-only events are inclusive of Trans and Intersex women, as well as non-binary and gender fluid people who identify in a significant way as woman or female.

All women only classes, workshops or events will be marked clearly in our print programmes and online.

See GWL’s Core Values for more information and what to expect when you come to GWL.

Can men join and use the Library?

Yes. Glasgow Women’s Library, our collections and public events programmes are open to all and many of our members and Friends are men! Our key aims include increasing public knowledge and understanding of women’s history, lives and achievements, and providing information on a range of women’s and gender equality issues to all. We do ask men to be aware that some of the events and courses taking place at the Library are women-only (see above).

Is Glasgow Women’s Library connected to the other public libraries in Glasgow?

We have strong links with many other libraries but we are a charity separate from the mainstream library system and an independent organization with our own structure.

What is GWL’s ‘Lifelong Learning’ programme?

Glasgow Women’s Library view of Lifelong Learning is – all the possible ways women of all ages and backgrounds can learn whether from attending courses, events, activities and also from each other! All the staff, Board members and volunteers are lifelong learners and we are committed to each of our visitors, enquirers, participants and volunteers getting the most from their contact with us. Learning for us (and for you!) can be getting a qualification, being part of a group visit with us to the Parliament, a museum or somewhere you have never been before, finding out how to use a map or discovering about women’s history, getting more confident about paying bills, watching and discussing a film together or learning how to become a tour guide! There are no limits on what women might want to discover with us and how we can help you do it!

In our Learning Policy the Learning Team have come up with the following definition:

Learning at Glasgow Women’s Library is about increasing women’s confidence, skills, knowledge and understanding and in this way nurturing their desire to learn more.

Do I need to live in Glasgow to be able to access the library materials, courses and activities?

Women from anywhere in Scotland are welcome to access our materials, courses and activities – and you don’t have to live within travelling distance of Glasgow to participate. We can come to you through our National Lifelong learning programme which offers informal workshops and learning sessions to women across Scotland. For more information, contact Morag Smith.

More and more we hope to be able to have visitors use our online resources and input their ideas and get involved with the our broader Library community through website book reviews, comments, the website survey, etc . Why not tell us what you would like to see on the GWL website of the future?

Do you offer any training?

Yes. We have developed a range of bespoke training that we are happy to deliver to groups and organizations, from Reading and Writing for Wellbeing to Developing a women’s walking group. Contact Adele Patrick to find out more about what is on offer or explore our Inspiring Resources.
Free training is also on offer to our volunteers and learners.

Can you help me find a job?

Glasgow Women’s Library is not a regular advice centre or employment agency but one of our aims is to help women find pathways to employment. Many of our learners and volunteers have gone on to paid work linked to the support, training and networks we have provided. If we cannot help directly we will try to connect you to other organizations and support services that may be able to help.

Do I have to become a member of the Library to use it or receive information?

No. Use of the Library and most of our courses, activities, events and learning programmes are free. It is also free to be added to our mailing list. We make it clear in our publicity when there is a fee or payment required. We want everyone to become a borrower so they can enjoy our fantastic materials. Becoming a borrower is free and easy to do and we ask you to this before booking onto courses.

How can I get involved in Women’s Library activities?

There are lots of ways to get involved.

If you want to find out about events, activities, courses, projects or anything else that is up and coming then check out the Events calendar, call the Library on 0141 550 2267, or pop in to visit us to pick up our programme of events and talk to a member of staff.

When you visit, call, or visit make sure to give us your contact details if you want to be emailed, mailed or called about all the upcoming activities we are planning. Or why not become a borrower to make booking for us and for you as simple as possible?

We are always on the look out for volunteers and current opportunities are always posted on our website.

If you want to get involved in our Literacy programme or BME project then please let us know and we can welcome you aboard!

Some women are involved in the Library who live too far away or for other reasons cannot visit us. Your views, ideas and support is just as welcome as regular visitors. Why not become part of our book reviewing team?

You can also get involved as a supporter. It costs £5 each day to support each learner to access all that we have to offer and we have no funding for core costs: by becoming a Friend of the Library for just £5 per month, you can help support us to continue with our work and to grow as an organisation.

The Learner Forum is the best way to feed in your ideas and energy into our Learning programme.

Can I access books if I’m taking a course at the library?

Yes, you can use our reference collection. For some courses, we will have a collection of reference books specifically for use by women taking that course. You will also be able to borrow relevant books from the lending collection but you will need to become a borrower. The Library staff can show you how.

Do you have books that I can use to help me with my learning?

Yes, the library has a great selection of books, covering topics such as feminism, women’s history, violence against women, lesbian women, women travellers, women in politics, employment and education.  There are also lots of fantastic fiction, short stories and poetry to inspire and enjoy.

Please come into the library for a look, search the lending library catalogue or email the Librarian, Wendy Kirk, for more information. If we don’t have the books that you’re looking for, we can try to find out who does.

Have you got a crèche?

Unfortunately, no, we don’t have a crèche. We are able to support women with childcare in some circumstances (e.g. there are childcare support costs available for women undertaking some of the taught courses we host) so let us know if this would be a barrier for you getting involved.

What is the adult literacy and numeracy service at GWL?

Glasgow Women Library Adult Literacy and Numeracy Service supports women to understand, read and write words and numbers. Women sometimes want support with all areas of literacy and numeracy. Others need help with just one aspect, for example writing job application forms, being more confident about studying or writing their own diary. Most women can manage words and numbers, but lack confidence with this. It is up to you what you would like to learn and practice.

Most of the learning courses, events and activities we programme are aimed at all women regardless of their confidence in their literacy skills: if you want to know more about what is involved in any event we are advertising just ask us.

How can I get help with words and numbers?

You can contact Glasgow Women’s Library yourself or have someone do it for you. This may be a friend or family member or a worker that has been supporting you. Contact Donna Moore at the Library by:
Telephone: 0141 550 2267
Email: donna.moore@womenslibrary.org.uk
Post: 23 Landressy Street, Glasgow, G40 1BP

What will happen next?

The ALN Development Worker, Donna Moore, will arrange to meet with you to have a chat about what you need. This can be at the library or somewhere you feel more comfortable. After this meeting you will be allocated a tutor who will contact you and arrange a time that suits you for support with your words and numbers.

How often will we meet and how long will I need to attend?

Women usually met with their tutor once a week. This can continue for as long as you feel you need support. A review will take place every 6 weeks to check you still need support.

Every learner in Glasgow Women’s Library ALN service has reviews to make sure you are getting the help you want. This is also a good way to look at how far you have come in your learning. Every learner has an Independent Learning Plan. This is a way to make sure you are in charge of you learning. You will set your learning goals, decide how you want to learn and when you fell it is time to stop meeting your tutor.

How much does the ALN service cost?

It is FREE!

What do I need to bring?

You only need to bring yourself and a wish to learn more. We will even pay your fares!

GWL has a BME women’s project. What does BME mean?

BME means Black Minority Ethnic.  It is the term used by a number of public bodies in the UK to describe a person from a visible ethnic minority.

English isn’t my first language, can I still get involved?

Yes, you can take part in the Library activities even if your first language isn’t English. The Library also offers ESOL English classes from beginner’s level to the intermediate / upper level and we encourage women to start by signing up to the classes. At the same time you can take part in other activities of the Library. Our team is very supportive and although we may not be able to provide translation for all the activities (due to limited funding) we will try and assist you in any way we can. Nevertheless we encourage you to get in touch and tell us about the kind of activities you are interested in and we will try our best to accommodate you. What’s worked well in the past is that women who don’t feel confident with their English often bring along a buddy who can converse in both English and their community language. Syma Ahmed, the BME Development worker, speaks Urdu and Punjabi.

Who do I speak to about BME activities?

The person to contact is Syma Ahmed, the BME Women’s Project Development Worker. She works within the remit of the lifelong learning programme to provide a range of activities ranging from arts and crafts projects, film screenings & discussions, group outings/visits to learn about Glasgow and women’s history, recording and celebrating BME women’s history and many other such activities that help BME women further themselves in learning and gain a better quality of life. Women from any background can take part in the BME activities. As well as activities at GWL, Syma can also advise you of other BME organisations and Support Services that can cater for your specific needs and assist with your learning.

Does it cost anything to do courses or attend events at GWL?

Generally no. Most of the programmes we have on offer are free. When we do have to charge for an event or course we make this clear in our publicity or when we are talking to visitors about our programmes. You will be asked when you become a borrower whether you require a concession – this is entirely at your discretion, and you can change your details at any time if your situation changes.

Can I gain a qualification or certificates at GWL?

Yes. Some of the courses we run are in partnership with colleges and universities. Some courses (e.g. the Introduction to Social Science and Care, delivered in partnership with Stow College) are certificated, and some (for example, our Introduction to Family History course) provided students with credits towards their future qualifications. In contrast, many of the opportunities on offer at GWL are focused on informal and integrated learning where women will gain uncredited but important skills such as confidence building, and a growth in experiences, knowledge and skills.

Can you help me get published?: Advice on getting your work published

Advice from a Scottish fiction writer

It’s useful to try to publish shorter pieces – stories, poems, extracts – in literary magazines as it gives you deadlines to work towards and shows that you’re serious about your writing. It’s also very rewarding if you succeed! I would recommend Mslexia as a great resource for new writing and for information about competitions, opportunities and the publishing business. You might also want to look at magazines based in Scotland, such as Gutter or Northwords Now. If you’re a brave sort, you could volunteer to read at an open mic night or literary cabaret. If you’re shyer, you could go along and watch and hopefully meet other writers.

If you’re hoping to publish a novel, the first step is to make sure that your manuscript is as good as you can make it. Try to get an honest opinion from someone who knows what they’re talking about – family and friends can be too generous! It might be worth joining a Creative Writing evening class, or if you have the money you could approach a manuscript appraisal service such as The Literary Consultancy or Hi-Arts. You might find books about writing useful too, such as The creative writing coursebook: forty authors share advice and exercises for fiction and poetry by Julia Bell and Andre Motion, and Self-editing for fiction writers by Renni Browne and Dave King.

The next book you should consult is either The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook or The Writers’ Handbook. These provide exhaustive lists of literary agents and publishers. Most writers approach an agent first. If you secure a literary agent, she will represent you to publishers by submitting your manuscript and negotiating your contracts. Make sure you approach agents that like your kind of work – their listings will specify whether they accept crime or sci-fi or whatever else. You could also choose to approach an agent who already represents one of your favourite authors, or authors whose work is similar to yours.

Look at the agent’s website. This will say how they accept submissions. Usually you’ll be expected to make an initial approach by letter or email, including: a couple of lines that ‘pitch’ your novel, anything interesting about yourself, whether you’ve been published before. For an American take on this process and formulae for query letters, have a look at this blog by an author and former literary agent.

If the agent is willing to read a submission, she’ll let you know. You would then send around three chapters and perhaps a synopsis of the full story and the agent will get back to you if she’d like to read the full manuscript (make sure the manuscript is complete at this stage). You can approach a few agents at a time – maybe three or four. Be aware that it can easily take six weeks to receive a response. After two months, you might send a polite reminder.

Expect to receive rejections and don’t worry too much if you do (which is easier said than done). Publishing is extremely competitive and it’s a difficult time for bookshops, publishers and authors. Be resilient and keep sending your work out. Good luck!

Advice from a crime fiction writer

The road to publication is paved with dogged persistence, unbridled optimism and a huge amount of total luck. Joining writing – and, importantly, reading – communities (both online and in person) is a great way to both get your name known and draw on a whole wealth of experiences and suggestions. I’ve always found the writing community to be enormously generous with their help, advice and support. Some people like writing groups, some people don’t. Good ones can be really helpful and I’ve known a couple of writers who have said that they wouldn’t be published if it hadn’t been for their writers’ group.

If you write in a particular genre, then look for writing/reading groups in those genres and also websites that publish short fiction in those genres. I write crime fiction and there are loads of sites for short crime fiction – most of it, unfortunately, unpaid. However, sometimes having your work read on those sites can lead to something else. Online and print crime fiction ‘zines include Out of The Gutter, Spinetingler, Plots With Guns, Beat To A Pulp (it should be noted that my tastes run to the noir and warped, but for those of a gentler disposition, you could try the notoriously hard-to-crack markets of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock Magazine – both of which do pay (and very well, too!)). Two great crime fiction reading groups are 4MysteryAddicts on yahoo groups and Listserv DorothyL.

There are some excellent Scottish venues for short stories:

Gutter

New Writing Scotland

Chapman

Edinburgh Review

If you are in the Glasgow area, you should also consider going to Weegie Wednesday which is a networking group for writers and can be really useful, as well as being good fun.

Agents may sometimes appear to be mythical beasts, but they are out there. For agents based in
Scotland, you could visit the website of the Association of Scottish Literary Agents, and there’s a list of Scottish publishers on the Publishing Scotland website.

You can approach a publisher without an agent, and book deals have been snagged by un-agented authors, but in my experience, it’s so much easier with one.

There are more options for getting published these days. There are a number of really good small presses out there, and there’s also the option of a small but growing number of publishers who do e-books only. Self-publishing is also an option but, in my opinion, it’s one to be treated with caution. If you do go down that route I would recommend that you always have your book professionally edited, and you get someone who knows what they’re doing to design your cover. Above all, remember that money always flows to the author. It might not be much money, but it’s never the other way. If someone tells you they will publish your book if you pay them, or they will act as your agent for a fee that is not based on royalties, run. The Preditors and Editors website is very good at warning of cons, grifts and scams in the publishing industry.

Oh, and about those rejection letters. Be aware that you, or your agent, might send off your precious manuscript to a publisher who will come back to say “We loved your book; unfortunately, it has too many elves in.” Deciding that losing elves is not an option, you send your manuscript off to publisher number 2. “Sorry,” they say. “We loved your book, but it simply doesn’t contain enough elves”. Agatha Christie reportedly received 500 rejection letters over a four year period (I did mention persistence and optimism, didn’t I?) and Louisa May Alcott was told to ‘stick to teaching’.

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Any questions?

We’re always happy to answer any questions you may have about the Library, our work, and how you can get involved. If there’s something you can’t find out here or by searching the site, send us a message using the form below.

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