CILIPS Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland
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#WINspiration – Feminism for Libraries and Librarians

The #WINspiration logo with white text reading 'Feminism for libraries and librarians' and a background illustration of a crowd of women in purple and green.

Women make up the majority of the Library and Information Sector workforce, as well as a majority of CILIPS members. Yet all too often, women across Scotland continue to encounter barriers in their professional and personal lives as a result of sexism, economic and social inequalities, and stereotypical expectations of what we can or cannot achieve. This evolving resource collection aims to empower and educate all LIS professionals who care about women’s equality: supporting Scotland’s female library workers at every stage of our careers and ensuring that our libraries are truly places of equity and opportunity for all.

All of the links contained in our evolving collections are aimed at providing a diverse selection of relevant resources for further reading and consideration. It is ultimately the responsibility of our members and their organisations to make decisions on their professional practice, based on a wide range of information and underpinned at all times by the CILIP Ethical Framework. We also note that the content of external links may be subject to change without our knowledge, and we encourage our members to please let us know if this ever appears to be the case.

We welcome feedback on our ongoing EDI work from our members and the wider library and information community – if you have any comments or suggestions to share, please add them anonymously to this padlet page or email us anytime at

Collection last updated March 2024.

The CILIPS #WINspiration Series

  • On Friday 8th March 2024International Women’s Day, we came together online for the inaugural #WINspiration conference! Celebrating two years and counting of our pioneering library feminism programme, professionals across Scotland and beyond gathered to share insights and inspiration from libraries across every area of our sector, learning more about the myriad of ways in which our profession is championing women’s equality. An inspiring mix of keynote conversations, lightning talks and panel discussions ran throughout the day – watch the full conference above and get ready to #InspireInclusion.

  • In this WINspiration session, we delved into the prevalent but often silent struggle of dealing with ‘imposter syndrome’: that inner saboteur feeding negative untruths about our professional worth and outputs. Led by leading library learning facilitator Jo Walley and Scotland’s Library and Information Professional of the Year 2022 SarahLouise McDonald, this workshop was an opportunity for women across our female-majority sector to come together, support and share experiences.
  • We explored strategies for combating imposter syndrome, sharing insights from across the CILIPS community and including several of the incredible women who have been #WINspiration speakers at past events (more below). Jo and SarahLouise told their own stories to help attendees consider how ‘the imposter’ might be impacting their lives and how we can empower ourselves to adopt more supportive approaches. Watch the full recording above!

  • WINspiration was delighted to welcome Jennifer Stewart, Senior Development Officer for the Women’s Health Plan at The Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE) to learn all about their new Conversation Café toolkit for peer support and positive discussion on women’s health. Watch to discover how libraries of all sectors across Scotland can utilize the Conversation Café model to debunk myths, dispel shame and stigma, and empower women with information.

  • For an extra special WINspiration webinar, we introduced the University of Dundee’s Period Library and discovered how this creative and collaborative collection is tackling misinformation, reducing stigma and driving social justice by normalising menstrual education and day-to-day conversations about periods, as well as providing free period products just like libraries of many different sectors across Scotland. We were also thrilled to be joined by Bloody Good Employers, an innovative new programme offered by Bloody Good Period: a charity dedicated to eradicating period poverty and fighting for menstrual equity with support from social justice champions just like libraries. Watch the full webinar above or access our padlet page with relevant links and recommended reading.
  • Inspired by Pause Not Full Stop, a creative (and at times comedic!) series of community initiatives from Fife Libraries designed to break down taboos surrounding the menopause, our Talking Menopause WINspiration special explored Dr Vanessa Beck’s terrific Talking Menopause Toolkit. From matriarchal Dundee to ‘witch-lit’ legacies and more, the toolkit encouraged our attendees to share fascinating reflections and a range recommended readings, all of which you can access on our event padlet.

  • ‘I felt inspired and encouraged at the same time!’ ‘I really enjoyed listening to the three former presidents – very inspiring’. ‘The WINspiration speakers were interesting and the questions were insightful in pulling it all together.’ Don’t just take our word for it when we recommend our 2023 Annual Conference WINspiration special, a Past-Presidential panel featuring Martina McChrystal, Cleo Jones and Amina Shah. From feedback, it looks like our delegates agree!
  • ‘Just like women working in libraries, information and knowledge, this empowering programme continues to go from strength to strength…’ For International Women’s Day, CILIPS Membership Officer and #WINspiration lead Kirsten MacQuarrie shared with Information Professional why this fantastic feminist project is having a positive impact on the sector. Read her article in full.
  • ‘If we have an image of a leader being a really assertive older man, then that is probably what you are going to get. We should aspire to seeing leaders who can also be humble, be unsure, ask questions, be empathetic. If we don’t, then we aren’t going to make it a space for diverse leaders, not just women, but from all backgrounds. If we don’t broaden our image of what a leader is then we make it hard for people in terms of authenticity and being allowed to be yourself. Why would someone want to become a leader if they can’t be authentic?’ Also for IWD23, National Librarian of Scotland and 2022 CILIPS President Amina Shah spoke to Information Professional about ‘Leadership, community and the power of storytelling’. Enjoy her full interview here on scroll below to watch Amina’s wonderful #WINspiration session.

Acknowledge the problem of sexual harassment can and does exist in libraries around the world.

Believe staff when they disclose harassment.

Challenge harassment when you see, hear or read it, whether inside the library or not.

  • ‘The only rewarding thing for me is to bring to light information that no one knows. What’s the point of rehashing the same old thing?’ For a Black History Month #WINspiration, Professor Zita Cristina Nunes, Associate Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania, introduced Dorothy Porter: the critical cataloguing pioneer whose groundbreaking work continues to shape our profession. As our libraries tackle the task of decolonisation today, what can we learn from Porter’s legacy? And what does her vastly under-acknowledged contribution tell us about the history of librarianship, the herstories that are missing and why?
  • At our 2022 Annual Conference, we were delighted to welcome Dr Diane Pennington to lead the first ever in-person #WINspiration session! As co-chair of the iSchools Women’s Coalition, Diane shared invaluable insights into why the Coalition’s work is so necessary and encouraged delegates to share what #WINspires them in their own careers. Browse their fantastic contributions on this padlet page (and feel free to add your own).

  • Perfect for International Women’s Day, a special edition of the Scottish Poetry Library’s podcast, ‘Nothing But the Poem’ was released celebrating both IWD and February’s LGBTQ+ History Month. The conversation featured CILIPS Membership Officer Kirsten MacQuarrie and CILIPS Trustee Board Vice-Chair Toni Velikova exploring three poems by iconic LGBTQ+ Scottish poets: Strawberries by Edwin Morgan, Gone But Not Forgotten by Maud Sulter, and Biography by Jackie Kay.
  • ‘My words, still to be written, waited patiently, as I rested my chin on the shelf…’ (‘Prayer & Breath’ by Nadine Aisha Jassat). For the week of International Women’s Day 2023, WINspiration welcomed acclaimed writer and creative practitioner Nadine Aisha Jassat to share her personal and poetical journey through libraries, including the vital part that libraries play in her debut children’s novel The Stories Grandma Forgot (And How I Found Them). Discover Nadine’s deeply moving ‘My Mother’s First Printed Book’ as part of Neu! Treasures! at the National Library of Scotland.
  • If you’re in need of some creative feminist intervention tactics, look no further than Graduate Trainee Leah’s blog Feminist Interventions at ARLIS UK 2023, all about her reflections from the Art Libraries Society Conference. The rundown features examples and motivations from incredible librarians and artists working with the art library as context and content. It speaks to acknowledging gaps in collections like the Women’s Art Library at Goldsmiths, and how a feminist and empathetic code of ethics can improve how we recall and retell history in collections.

Smashing Glass Ceilings:

  • Fair Share of Women Leaders aim to test and showcase new forms of governance that reflect feminist values and principles, overcoming some of the pitfalls of power imbalance, hierarchy and the bureaucracy of ‘traditional governance’ mechanisms. Their recent Feminist Leadership webinar series was a sell-out success, with the recordings and slides now available to consult, and you can also find helpful FAQs, a Feminist Leaders toolkit and a directory of Feminist Resources.
  • Women into Leadership hosts an annual conference for all those committed to enhancing leadership opportunities for women. Check out the selection of videos on their website for examples of previous sessions, including ‘key lessons from women leaders’ and ‘communicating your ideas with confidence and clarity’.
  • ‘Deploying leadership needs to be done with care, keeping open to learning and, vitally, involving others in decision making that impacts on their sense of safety and wider lives. I am trusting of my instincts on when to be actively listening, when to ask for help, and judging when, personally and organisationally, the pace needs to be slowed or further reflection and wider, deeper consultation is needed.’ This must-read interview with Dr Adele Patrick in CILIP Information Professional magazine explores feminist leadership, Dr Patrick’s recent experiences of the Clore Leadership Programme and how she personally defines feminist leadership within the context of her work as the co-founder of Glasgow Women’s Library.
  • The LIBER Emerging Leaders Programme offers seminar training for the next generation of leaders in European research libraries – register for updates on when applications open.
  • IFLA’s Women, Information and Libraries Special Interest Group aims to advocate for women as crucial actors in sustainable, equitable and thoughtful global development, essential to creating comprehensive and accessible libraries and information services around the world.
  • Engender is Scotland’s feminist policy and advocacy organisation and has published a number of reports on diverse issues affecting women in Scotland: from the impact of Covid-19 on women who have caring responsibilities to a gender edit of the Scottish Government’s last budget.
  • The Women Who Changed Modern Scotland… this fascinating series was a collaboration between BBC Scotland and the Open University, investigating how pioneering women since the 1960s have disrupted Scotland’s status quo and transform our nation in the process.
  • The accompanying living resource collection, Women and Workplace Struggles in Scotland: Scotland 1900-2022, offers a timely and necessary exploration of women’s (often hidden) role in struggles in the workplace across Scotland. Each article in the collection casts either a new light on – or refreshing memories of – struggles of the past, as well as those that are ongoing. The team are particularly keen to hear from women workers who have been involved in (historic or contemporary) struggles around issues such as pay and fairness at work, defending jobs as well as campaigns to defend or improve workplace conditions, and material like images, photographs, dispute paraphernalia (leaflets, flyers, posters etc.) is also especially welcome – if you or your library community can help, please contact them at
  • For further inspiration, our 2021 International Women’s Day Twitter thread celebrated our women presidents from 1974 until the present day – we can’t wait to add more inspirational women to the list!

Teaching Women and Girls (and Men and Boys) Why Tackling Sexism Matters:

  • ‘The library was my happy place where everyone was welcome, especially women. Then the Taliban took over… two months after my release from prison, I packed a small bag of clothes and some of my favourite books, including A Room of One’s Own, and said goodbye to my motherland… These days I spend a lot of time in the local library, trying to put some words together about the women who protested. About our lives and how much they changed.’ The story of Wahida Amiri, the librarian defying the Taliban.
  • Amnesty International has created this easy-to-read yet informative introduction to many key issues of women’s rights around the world including suffrage, sexual and reproductive rights, and the importance of intersectionality.
  • Can you believe that 153 countries have laws that discriminate against women economically, including 18 in which a husband can prevent a wife from working? This Oxfam introduction to gender justice and women’s rights features many powerful pieces of evidence to demonstrate why the fight for equality continues.
  • ‘Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.’ Uncover facts, films and more about UN Sustainable Development Goal Five: achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
  • Climate Museum UK also explore Goal Five in their fascinating Guide to the Global Goals – did you know that improved education for girls is one of the most effective climate actions a country can take?
  • To mark their 30th birthday in 2021, Glasgow Women’s Library launched a fundraising initiative that combines feminist conscious raising with building a more sustainable future. Women on the Wall welcomes nominations of women who deserve to be honoured for their pioneering contributions, with their names appearing in an environmentally-sound wall installation and donated costs going towards meeting GWL’s net carbon neutral goal. Learn more about the project or discover our own sustainability plans at #CILIPSGoGreen.
  • Have you seen a statue commemorating the achievements of a Scotswoman recently, or noticed a street named after one of our nation’s historical heroines? Sara Sheridan’s innovative book Where are The Women? provoked intense debate by challenging the centrality of maleness to Scotland’s rural and urban environments. Watch her discussing the book with Historic Environment Scotland.
  • Do women have to be naked to get into Scotland’s museums and art galleries? Guerrilla Girls call on feminists across the nation to count how many women artists have their work shown in our nation’s artistic spaces, compared with how many depictions of women without their clothes can be seen. Visit The Male Graze to add your findings and learn more about their work to eradicate misogyny from the GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) sector. You can share your count with CILIPS on social media too!
  • ‘In our ideal reference interaction, patrons are not “passive consumers of knowledge and culture” but rather active and empowered learners…’ for thought-provoking reflections on the gender implications of guidelines like those provided by the Reference & User Services Association (a division of the American Library Association), readthis chapter in The Feminist Reference Desk by Celia Emmelhainz, Erin Pappas and Maura Seale. We hope Scotland’s library patrons know better than to expect a so-called ‘Mommy Librarian’ behind the desk!
  • Libraries worldwide play a critical part in providing access to reproductive healthcare, especially in times of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic. In this report, IFLA summarises some of the current issues impacting the right to health information, especially for vulnerable women and girls – and good library practices aiming to help deliver on this vital right.
  • Aiming high… this terrific National Library of Scotland e-resource highlights the achievements of 11 pioneering women from the 18th to 20th centuries through some of their recollections and items held in the Library’s collection. Discover downloadable learning activities and even a family-friendly mountain climbing game!

Literature to Inspire All Ages:

  • Especially for Women’s History Month, Scottish Book Trust teamed up with our feminist friends at Glasgow Women’s Library to create this list of Scottish books that celebrate and reflect on women’s history. Only one problem remains – which title to pick first!
  • This Scottish Book Trust list of ‘Empowering Books for Girls’ includes fiction and non-fiction titles that are sure to empower the young women of tomorrow. We think there are also plenty of boys who would enjoy reading about what women and girls can achieve!
  • Compiled in collaboration with Zero Tolerance’s You Can Be Campaign, this list contains ten terrific titles that challenge gender stereotypes: starting early to help foster empathy, acceptance and self-belief to last a lifetime.
  • Regular book reviews from Glasgow Women’s Library will keep you up-to-date with new releases from women writers, and you can even submit your own reviews.
  • Many of us know and love the work of Jane Austen, but have you heard about her Scottish literary equivalents? We hadn’t until we discovered this fantastic learning resource from the National Library of Scotland. Click to remember Forgotten Women Writers: Jane Austen’s Scottish Sisters.
  • The National Library of Scotland’s Women in Science collection also illuminates the vital yet severely underacknowledged contributions of women to our nation’s scientific progress, transforming their disciplines and in many cases saving lives.
  • This reading list, also compiled by NLS, features some of the most exciting women writers in Scotland today, plus helpful catalogue links to find their work in the library.
  • Scottish Women Writers on the Web re-examines the reputations of many talented Scottish women writers whose poetry, prose and plays fell into obscurity as a consequence of the sexism of their times. Search for women poets, novelists, dramatists, biographers, historians, essayists or travel writers and discover a hidden world of women writing in Scottish history whose voices deserve to be heard.
  • Keen to tackle gender stereotypes in your library’s collection for young readers? The G-Book project is an exceptional collaboration across six European partners that brings together books for children which challenge restrictive gender stereotypes (such as girls being sweet, submissive, and passive while boys are brave and rebellious, or mothers staying home from adventures while fathers alone go out to work or explore). Search the full bibliography by title, author or thematic content like ‘body’, ‘family’, ‘feelings and emotions’ and ‘famous personalities’.
  • ‘Fur maist o history, anonymous wis a wumman…’ Did you know that 25th January marks not only Burns Night but also the birthday of Virginia Woolf? Much as we adore our National Bard, Scotland’s library community has been making sure that the silenced voices of female writers past and present are finally being heard. Check out this thought-provoking Scottish Poetry Library commission of Scots scholar and writer Ashley Douglas, considering the absences and erasure of women’s voices from early published poetry in Scotland, or watch The Trysting Thorns, where SPL invited poets Janette Ayachi, Victoria McNulty, Susi Briggs and Morag Anderson to share their creative responses to the life and work of Burns.
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