I feel like I am starting to repeat myself with the whole “What a month!” talk but it’s probably about time I realised that working with GWL comes with many cool responsibilities and diverse tasks. Just when I had thought this placement could not become more exciting, it did. Sit back and try (at least a little bit) to relax before a swift fun ride through my calendar in retrospective.
This month, I went to the Scottish capital of Edinburgh three times. Once for leisure, twice for GWL. On the first occasion, it was my family who was visiting and we decided to go see Processions on the day. To each of us, it was an outstanding event on the centenary of women’s right to vote in Great Britain and Ireland and a once in a lifetime opportunity for us to celebrate. Even more so because women’s contributions to national history are barely ever celebrated in Germany. (In 2018 as well, Germany will hit the centenary mark for women’s right to vote but, so far, the sad reality seems to be that there will be no celebrations going further than a few special exhibitions in museums and nothing anything like a three hour live broadcast of ten thousands of people marching and cheering.) For the other two occasions, I went to Edinburgh for our National Lifelong Learning Project. The day after Processions, I was asked to bring one of our archive boxes filled with suffragette related materials to Edinburgh Central Library for a talk given by Dr Jane George on Scottish suffragettes (read more here). Three days later, Rebecca, Morag and I paid another visit to Edinburgh Central Library to hold a Story Café Special on Women Poets of World War I. Rebecca and Morag had prepared a number of pieces of writing and even I had prepared something: two poems written by German women in 1914. Besides looking for them, I also translated them, which I would have never gotten to finish if it was not for the help of other volunteers whom I could assail with questions on vocabulary. It was a melancholic afternoon yet all in all a successful session and we were delighted to see familiar faces, some of which are even regular visitors to GWL.
In June, we also welcomed special guests to GWL. Our nomination for Museum of the Year included, besides a visit by the judges in May, a visit by the Student Road Trip. ArtFund sent out five Student Art Pass members on a field trip across Great Britain and let them document it on their social media accounts, which is why we greeted Saroj, Fleur, Mél, Shannon and Daniel with tea, scones and biscuits. Besides being given a tour around the building, they participated in a little “Show and Tell” of objects from our archive and objects they hold dear but still are willing to donate (Thank you!!!) and were taken on a mini Heritage Walk around GWL’s neighbourhood. Their visit went by way too fast and all of us would have loved to spend more time with such thoughtful and talented young people. We hope they enjoyed their visit to GWL as much as we enjoyed them being here and we wish them all the best for their future. If you, too, are interested in the world of museums and are currently a student, you can get the Student Art Pass for the small price of £5 only. It gets you into museums and exhibitions all around Great Britain at a discounted price or even for free. What’s not to like?
One of the responsibilities I chose to take on at GWL is to participate in the Green Creative Cluster. Constantly doing our best to minimise GWL’s environmental impact, we considered that reviewing our environmental policy after two years would be a reasonable task in 2018. GWL holds bimonthly “Big Team Meetings” in between smaller ones, and each is assigned a topic. This month, GWL had scheduled a Green Cluster themed Big Team Meeting. For this occasion, we decided to prepare an easily accessible presentation on environmental policy making in Scotland and our current policy. We felt that a fun way of engaging the rest of the team and reactivating their knowledge of our “dos” and “don’ts” and “we’d like you to dos” would be a wee quiz. It was my job to design it and it created a positive atmosphere that easily helped everyone shift into a productive mode. Equipped with new ideas, we are now drafting and holding review sessions so that GWL never loses sight of its objectives.
June also meant a month of immersing myself into more creative outlets again. In anticipation of Morag holding workshops on the suffrage movement and badge-making at Greenock Prison, she kindly asked me to create a few sample badges for her (see on the right-hand side). Besides this fun activity, I also learnt about the art of storytelling by going to the Gauri Raje Story Café Special. Gauri is a true virtuoso in this art and I have never hated a Story Café ending more than on this occasion. All of the women attending the event leaned forward with big, round eyes like small children and you could have heard the metaphorical needle drop, I swear! Those of you who have visited the library recently, may have noticed that we are showing short video clips of people talking about GWL in the entrance hall. All of these videos are part of our ongoing #MyMuseum campaign for the Museum of the Year award. They were (and are still being) filmed by GWL staff members and volunteers, such as me.
In order to get as many people as possible in front of the camera, Morag and I met with Clydebank’s Women History Group. We had a great chat over self-made shortbread fingers and are happy to have received such great support for our campaigning! Last but definitely not least, I was also asked to come to the Glasgow City Chambers with Sue and Hannah for a photo shoot with the Lord Provost of Glasgow, Eva Bolander, and Councillor Susan Aitken, Leader of the Council, to launch our new flag (have you noticed it outside GWL?). Being invited to such an important visit is an honour no matter what but setting foot into Eva Bolander’s office felt like a presidential visit (in a much cooler, feminist universe). Currently, I am crossing my fingers one of the photos I took will make it into the local newspapers. Eek!
To sum it up, I had an incredible month of June as an intern at GWL and I am very much looking forward to more fun activities in July, be they planned or at short notice. With Story Café pausing for the summer holidays, a quieter month and more time for recreational reading may be expected but who is to say really? I hope you had a delightful month of June as well and that you come back to my next blog post.
Jeanette is an Erasmus intern at Glasgow Women’s Library and involved in the National Lifelong Learning Project and Story Café, among other projects of GWL. She started in April and will stay until early October. Her internship here is part of her studies of English and Gender Studies at the Saarland University in Germany, where she grew up, and is supported by Erasmus.