What an absolute pleasure and treat to have got to join the community of inspiring, innovative and passionate women at the Glasgow Women’s Library – and to get to connect with some of the folks who are involved in their projects, programs and events. For this librarian (MLIS) student and public library worker from Saskatoon, Canada, it’s been such a joy and dream gig to join the team at the Glasgow Women’s Library for an internship over the month of November. A women’s studies and English lit grad, a women’s library is kind of like home. And, being from the prairies – or, for those not in the know, the flat, central part of Canada, it also meant I didn’t mind at all being in Glasgow in November – when back home the snow is flying and winter boots are on.
Getting to join in as a team member and learn about the challenges and incredible opportunities of running a non-profit library, museum and archive: motivating, supporting and fostering an excellent team, dedicated volunteers, and locating sources of funding From a library student perspective, I’ve been able to learn what it means to develop a collection without a budget – locating publishers to request copies from, donations from communities and wills – that is, it’s certainly not impossible, but requires a focused attention not needed when you’re working with a budget.
On cab ride home with a visiting friend, who shared where I was doing an internship, I was able to have a conversation about the library – what it was, and why it was. And I think over the past three weeks, the incredible possibilities.
There were so many examples over the weeks of programs and events that really championed women – I loved getting to check out the suffragette treasures from the archive, do some dramatic readings aloud and discover new authors, works, and items from the collection. One program in particular stands out for me – as part of the Scottish Book week we held a party celebrating women writers from around the commonwealth. The morning writing workshop led by Debjani Chatterje who hails from, Sheffield via India, brought together a diverse group of women – writers, book lovers, published authors, newcomers and others from Glasgow and beyond. Getting to laugh together and relate to the stories and poems, some of which Debjani had created collaboratively with women’s newcomer – South Asian, Bengali, support groups from Sheffield. Getting to share food, and chat together – to think of our relationships to the other women in our family and community (my sister and I – like cup and saucer), it was a real opportunity for building community. This is what libraries are all about. And for a women’s library, a space opened for women to come together.
I’m full of ideas, inspiration, and appreciation of what a group of dedicated staff and volunteers can do in the interest of a really positive outlook and vision: inspiring, celebrating, women in Glasgow, and outward around Scotland