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

the CILIPS logo 'Scotland's library and information professionals' with a background photo of suffrage campaigners with 'votes for women' signs

Women make up the majority of the Library and Information Sector workforce, as well as a majority of CILIPS members. And yet all too often, women across Scotland continue to encounter barriers in their professional and personal lives as a result of sexism, economic and/or social inequalities, and stereotypical expectations of what they 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 their careers and ensuring that our libraries are truly places of equity and opportunity for all.

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

The CILIPS #WINspiration Series

  • To celebrate International Women’s Day 2022, we were honoured to host Amina Shah, CILIPS President and National Librarian of Scotland, for the latest in our #WINspiration series: championing the cause of women working across all areas of the libraries and information sector. From civil service marriage bars on working women to menopause awareness and more, it was wonderful to hear Amina’s thought-provoking reflections on what has changed (and what is yet to change) for women working in our sector, the power of positive role models to shape library cultures for the better, and how both strength and vulnerability can be valuable to a 21st century library leader. Special thanks to our attendees for their contributions, including sharing the names of women who inspire them and their ideas about the changes necessary to support and empower women in our sector and beyond. Find the recording, helpful links and chat file here or watch the video with captions on the CILIPS YouTube channel here.
  • What would libraries led by feminists look like? CILIPS was delighted to welcome Dr Adele Patrick, a co-founder and Director of Glasgow Women’s Library, for our first ever #WINspiration online learning event. Adele shared inspiring ideas about the radical impact that feminist leadership can have, and our attendees likewise brought great energy and enthusiasm to their own reflections. Please click here for the recording, slides, chat file and recommended readings from Adele’s incredible session, and here for the padlet where we exchanged thoughts about what feminist leadership in action could look like for each of us. Here’s to the future of library feminism!

Smashing the Glass Ceiling:

  • 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 here, and you can also find helpful FAQs, a Feminist Leaders toolkit and a directory of Feminist Resources. Thank you to Dr Adele Patrick for highlighting this fantastic resource.
  • Women into Leadership hosts an annual conference for all those committed to enhancing leadership opportunities for women. While waiting for the conference to recommence in person, check out the selection of videos on their website for examples of some of their 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 – click the link to learn more and register for updates on when applications open.
  • Empowering Pathways for Women is a programme offered by YWCA Scotland to strengthen women’s agency in their own lives, especially for those who have faced complex or multiple barriers in the past.
  • 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. Find out more about their work here.
  • 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.
  • For a little inspiration, our 2021 CILIP Scotland 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 Gender Equality Matters:

  • 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 more powerful pieces of evidence to demonstrate why the fight for equality still needs to be won.
  • ‘Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.’ Click here for facts, films and more about UN Sustainable Development Goal Five: achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
  • Climate Museum UK have also explored Goal Five in their fascinating Guide to the Global Goals – for instance, do you know why 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 have 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 here or discover our own sustainability plans at #CILIPSGoGreen.
  • The Everyday Sexism Project gathers together evidence from women around the world about the reality of sexual harassment and discrimination many are forced to face every day. Click to read their stories (please be aware that some of the content is distressing and not suitable for younger age groups).
  • 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 here.
  • Do women have to be naked to get into Scotland’s museums and art galleries? Guerrilla Girls are calling 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), have a read of this 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 online feature 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 2022, 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 Scottish Book Trust 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 the National Library of Scotland, features some of the most exciting women writers in Scotland today – plus helpful catalogue links for you to find their work in the library!
  • From Gail Honeyman’s inspiring ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ to Denise Mina’s chilling ‘The Long Drop’, today’s Scottish women writers are shaking up the literary landscape. We enjoyed reading this Bella Caledonia blog highlighting their work along with that of many other Scottish women writers who would make excellent additions to any library catalogue.
  • 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 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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