Posted by on July 24, 2017

Sue John, Enterprise Development Manager, Glasgow Women’s Library

Let’s get this out of the way – Glasgow Women’s Library is somewhat of a misnomer…

Visitors enjoy Lauren Sagar and Sharon Campbell, Chandelier of Lost Earrings, Tall Tales Exhibition, 2016, photo GWL

Visitors enjoy Lauren Sagar and Sharon Campbell, Chandelier of Lost Earrings, Tall Tales Exhibition, 2016, photo GWL

Although based in Glasgow, we’re visited by people from around the world as well as around the corner. We deliver public events and learning projects right across Scotland; we’re open to all, not just women; and of course, we’re much more than a library. We are so proud to have been Recognised as a Nationally Significant Collection; but did you know that GWL is the only Accredited museum dedicated to women’s history in the entire UK?

GWL was going, and growing, for nearly 20 years before it became an Accredited museum in 2010. The resourcing and further professionalisation of our collection developed in the context of an already well-established organisation with strong core values centred on equality, diversity and inclusion, and with innovation and ambitious visioning in its DNA. So you probably won’t find many other museums that run dedicated projects for adult literacy learners; for black and minority ethnic women; or focusing on sectarianism and hate crime – all part of the integrated learning programme at GWL.

Making an Exhibition of Ourselves

Herland Redstockinged Women's Quiz Night 2016, photo GWL

Herland Redstockinged Women’s Quiz Night 2016, photo GWL

We are often asked questions like, ‘do you work with the community?’ or ‘do you do projects with hard to reach groups?’ The quick answer to both is ‘yes’, but in truth we are part of the community. Based in the East End, we’re in the top 5% of the most deprived areas in Scotland. Our surrounding community has suffered decades of industrial decline, poverty and ill health. With a local community that has great pride in its heritage and a hunger for culture and creativity, the people of the East End are an integral part of GWL too, not just as participants, but within our volunteer and staff team.

Our new project, Women Making an Exhibition of Themselves, funded by the Recognition Fund, is perhaps a good example of how GWL regularly brings together those from very different backgrounds to enjoy new experiences and learn new skills. LGBTQI people, women of colour, literacy learners, academics, domestic abuse survivors, or those overcoming addictions are all sharing in the broadening of their own horizons. Women Making an Exhibition of Themselves is a Community Curators project.  It is supported by our Museum Curator, comprising women from GWL’s local community and also from communities of interest, with Protected Characteristics. This wonderfully eclectic group is currently determining what will constitute GWL’s new permanent displays, and how these will be showcased and interpreted. The voices you hear when you visit us are diverse, accessible and tell their stories in our own inimitable way.

Young Critic shares her work at exhibition launch 2016, photo GWL

Young Critic shares her work at exhibition launch 2016, photo GWL


So, whose museum is it anyway?

In truth, there are no ‘hard to reach groups’, just ‘easy to ignore groups’ who, for many and sometimes complex reasons, feel remote from culture and learning. It’s our duty in the museums sector to ensure that all our work and our collections are fully accessible to everyone all the time, because our museums belong to everyone.

Please come and enjoy what we have to offer, and keep in touch with us via and social media:

Twitter: @womenslibrary |  Facebook: /womenslibrary  |  Instagram: /womenslibrary/


Glasgow Women’s Library delivers over 200 events and activities across Scotland every year, from film screenings to guided heritage walks. You can access the current summer programme here:
 More information on Women Making an Exhibition of Themselves can be found here:
Posted in: 4, Blog, Development, Exhibitions


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