To read and be read to: it’s an empowering trove of feminism, situated in Glasgow’s East End and now expanding its services around Scotland.
Glasgow Women’s Library boasts a small staff and a dedicated 100 volunteers who celebrate the extraordinary and the banal in equal measure.
As the only library in the UK dedicated to women’s history, story-telling remains at the crux of all its events.
Hannah Wright of the library, based in Bridgeton, says: “Empowering women is our aim and we spend each and every day working towards a world in which every woman is able to fulfil their full potential.
“Women’s historical, cultural and political contributions to society need to be fully recognised, valued and celebrated.”
Hannah adds: “For us, the sharing of stories between women is a crucial act in life, essentially, we support women to develop ways of sharing their own stories.
“Our adult literacy and numeracy development worker, Donna Moore, leads a group called Creative Writing for Fearties, a workshop where we encourage women to write down whatever is in their head.
“And our librarian Wendy Kirk runs the Story Café. That’s a weekly gathering of books, tea and biscuits where women can rediscover the joy of being read to and enjoy female company. We take women round the world, one tale at a time, led by female voices.”
The expansion of the library’s service has come in various ways, notably delivering workshops to women in prison.
Hannah also points to the Speaking Out exhibition, looking at the history of Women’s Aid in Scotland, which has made its way from Edinburgh to Inverness and Stirling, and ‘Create Your Own Women’s Heritage Walks’.
The latter allows people to explore their local area in a new light: travelling round familiar surroundings, they hear tales of extraordinary women who quite literally walked the same paths as they did, which often brings unknown female histories to the fore.
The summer programme of events launches on May 11 and will include a preview of the new exhibition, Sisterhood is Powerful: Posters from Glasgow Women’s Library.
It’s a busy schedule, with no rest after Women’s History Month in March, with a focus on International Women’s Day and a range of events designed to celebrate female value and assert the female voice.
On the day itself, the library launched a shelf of 100 new plays written by women, addressing the previous dearth of drama available in the library, and to inspire future playwrights.
Originally born from an arts organisation, the library prides itself on an eclectic range of activities for visitors.
Hannah says: “We’ve (recently) hosted a series of creative writing workshops led by poet Marjorie Lotfi Gill.
“We used it as a space to incorporate photography alongside other artistic prompts to explore shared experiences among women.
“Over 15 women took part each week and the atmosphere the group brought to the library space was really something special.”
The library also hosted the Outstanding Women of Scotland Awards. Running for the third consecutive year, they asked the public to nominate 10 living women who have made remarkable contributions to Scottish life and culture.
Women who featured in this year’s nominations included skier and climber Myrtle Simpson, forensic anthropologist Professor Dame Sue Black, and playwright Jo Clifford.
The long list of impressive accomplishments demonstrated by those on the bill shows the multifariousness of the modern woman, and the stories that Scottish women have to offer.
But while these noted characters are rightly celebrated among the suffragette memorabilia and 1970s Scottish Women’s Liberation newsletters, the library is keen to hear from all women and could house your story too, whether that be in poetry, play or scrapbook. The library also accepts suggestions for events and meets three times a year to discuss the proposals.
For more information on the library, go here