CILIPS Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland
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Ian McCracken, Volunteer Archivist

Category: Meet our Members

This is a guest blog by Ian McCracken, as part of our focus on members:

In 2012, two years after I retired as Govan High School, Librarian, I wrote an article for CILIPS entitled “Life as a volunteer archivist in Govan High School”, and I was recently asked by CILIPS to update it, along with details on my continuing Information Literacy involvement.

CILIPS wondered what had happened since to some of the projects mentioned – unfortunately, the idea of making a film about Turner Farm came to nothing; however, the Centenary Gallery was completed successfully, and the school held a very successful “launch “of that and the Timeline – this being combined with an FP reunion. The event’s celebrity guests were former pupils Sir Alex Ferguson and Bill Martin (award winning songwriter). Both the Timeline and the Centenary Gallery are still on the wall, and draw much interest from visitors.

Also completed was my research to find out about former pupils killed in World War Two. With literally no information at all in school records, this proved immensely challenging. Eventually, I found ninety –a Memorial was commissioned and is also now on the wall.

A former pupil set up a Facebook group for FPs, which has proved very successful –over 1400 members, and I work closely with it.

I’ve arranged for some FPs to give talks about their careers to current pupils – subjects have included Forensics, advice on entering university from a Professor – and even Hairdressing from the hairdresser to the British Embassy in Berlin!

A few years ago, two members of the support group for Elder Park visited the school in connection with an Art competition. This turned out to be very fortuitous for me: in conversation with the Art teacher, they had mentioned that they were also part of a group called “Govan’s Hidden History”.  We were introduced, and since then I have joined the group, which has been focussing on rediscovering the “lost” histories of many locals –mainly women. The best known of these is Mary Barbour, and I have spent much time researching her fascinating career. Others are still relatively unknown, but I persevere in searching old newspapers and archives.

Our group has participated in a wide range of activities including a Wiki Editathon, the unveiling of the statue of Mary Barbour in March 2018 and most recently in the Doors Open Day Festival 

There is a wide range of talents in the group; my own role being research, and my Information Literacy skills have proved invaluable in that respect – which brings me to IL itself.

In 2010, I had started preparing my files for disposal when the School Library Group invited me to their Annual Conference in Peterborough.

I was also invited by Dr Dorothy Williams to be on her panel on the “Impact of school libraries on learning

Various other invitations to speak or do training followed, and Cathy Kearney from CILIPS invited me to an IL event in the Mitchell Library. It was there that I was delighted to meet Jenny Foreman from the Scottish Government Library, who is now co-chair of the Information Literacy Community of Practice along with another friend and former colleague Cleo Jones from Edinburgh City Libraries.

The CoP was founded by Dr John Crawford, and I have been involved since the beginning. Mostly the focus has been on IL in Education, but more recently we have also been looking at Health, and I am now on the relevant working group.

I’m pleased to say that my retirement has worked out well for me, getting involved in a wide range of interesting subjects, meeting new friends and learning new skills.

And if you know of any Govan or Govan High connections please get in touch!