Hello, I am Celine. As a student of Literature and Arts from Germany, I was delighted to have the chance of diving into the history of Glasgow Women’s Library. It is my pleasure to share with you in a series of twelve blog posts some of the highlights captured in past GWL Newsletters. I hope you enjoy reading about them as much as I did during my placement at this wonderful place and join in the celebration of the Library’s 30th Anniversary.
“GWL goes green!” – this was the headline of an article announcing the development of an Environmental Management System for Glasgow Women’s Library, published in Issue 36 (2008) of the past Newsletters. The key themes here were reusing, recycling, and not wasting things. Now, with the COP 26 UN Climate Change Conference coming up, it seemed to be the perfect time to have a look at some of the past green projects hosted by GWL that emphasised on exactly these key aspects.
Maybe you have found yourself gardening more than ever or just spending even more time outside in nature over the last year. It certainly is very astonishing to just see your house flower blooming and developing new buds every day. Additionally, there are so many wonders to be found, when going outside and exploring nature. In order to continue enjoying the wonderful things surrounding us, it is important to be aware and raise awareness about the effect our behaviour has on this world. Glasgow Women’s Library has always been keen on making conscious decisions that lead to having a positive impact on our environment.
Many projects, which put an emphasis on staying connected with the nature around us and making us aware of the role we play in that world, were part of GWL’s history and can still be found in today’s event calendar. In Issue 25 (2003), the establishment of the Women’s Community Garden was published, when the ‘Bright Green Living’ course started as part of the Lifelong Learning Programme. A flyer for the event came with this edition and introduced the project as an opportunity to learn about yourself and the world surrounding you.
Browsing through the Newsletter pages, you can find a frequent update on the Women’s Community Garden, which was growing and flourishing with every day. It was a place to bring women together, for a fun and educational time in good company. Additionally, it is so rewarding to be able to enjoy eating a vegetable or fruit that you have planted and harvested yourself! More trainings and courses, like the ‘Recycling’ course for example, were provided in combination with the Community Garden. An experienced trainer and organic gardener, Laura Gamwell, supported other women with GWL’s ‘Get into the Garden’ course and offered training, which resulted in the formation of the Women’s Garden Club. Many other projects for women (with or without having a green thumb) made their way into the event calendar in the Newsletter. ‘Flower Power’ and ‘Women Dig In’ were some among these announced in Issue 34 (2006).
Always with the goal in mind of having a positive impact on our surrounding world as well as keeping the spirit of a Library alive, these events and courses made up a big part of the general programme at GWL. For ‘Flower Power’, the creative skills of everyone involved, were used to create books about the Women’s Community Garden. ‘Women Dig In’ provided a way to contribute to the “Library’s oasis” with the time and readiness for action of every participant. The level of experience was not the key factor here, as every women brings something to the table with her own skill set. Working outside, alongside other women, has proven to be enriching and joyful, when looking at these past events. The GWL allotment plot was another project written about in Issue 26 (2003):
“Allotments are a lot of fun and the physical and emotional good vibes that come from being close to the land are fantastic. The allotment is also a place to meet new women and to share in creating a beautiful and practical space – we hope to grow some good organic veggies.”
(Issue 26, 2003)
Today, the Library’s little flowerbed in front of the building welcomes visitors and provides an opportunity to “dig in” at GWL nowadays. It is the Green Creative Cluster, a group of staff and volunteers, which leads on GWL environmental activities. As well as programming green events which highlight women’s contributions to climate activism and care for the environment, we’ve been making changes to reduce the carbon footprint of the organisation. This year, there have been quite a few changes on the building itself, like getting double glazing on the windows to save energy and changing the lightbulbs to LED lights throughout the building. Our next goal is to produce a plan for how we can reduce our carbon emissions further to reach net-zero in the next decade. You can support our ambitious plans to build a sustainable, green future, by contributing to our Women on the Wall fundraising. Find out more about this here.