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SEC42: Sue John from the Glasgow Women’s Library

Now celebrating its 25th year, Sue John talks about the history of the Glasgow Women's Library, the library itself, and the vast range of events and services they offer.


22nd August 2016

This year, 2016, the Glasgow Women’s Library (GWL) celebrates its 25th anniversary. Friends of mine have been talking about the GWL for a couple of years, so naturally I’d heard about it, but I had no idea it was a social enterprise. The model makes sense for business such as theirs (arguably, it makes sense for any type of business), but if one were to look on their website you would see very little mention of social enterprise. Granted, they did win the Jobs & Business Glasgow ‘Social Enterprise of the Year’ Award in 2014, but aside from this there’s very little mention of it.

It strikes me that perhaps this is the way forward – companies quietly go about their business, simply adopting the social enterprise model instead of shouting about it. But each organisation is different, and there are pros and cons for advocating social enterprise. In any event, those that do and those that don’t are all mission led businesses, and the mission is always worth shouting about.

In this episode I speak to Sue John of the Glasgow Women’s Library. It’s remarkable longevity to a backdrop of change, is something that Sue talks about in this interview. In fact, she talks about the many great things that the GWL do in this interview and I don’t really want to spoil that.

What I will say though is that the GWL offer many diverse and unique services alongside being a library and a museum. They’ve also run a number of different projects over the years and continue to do so. And then there are the events; of which there are plenty. The library does many things – they are a community hub, a place for learning, a place for training, and a centre for events and exhibitions. Throughout the years, their values have remained steadfast: to empower women, address inequalities between men and women, to respect human rights, and create opportunities for access and participation through diversity and inclusivity, and to help with learning and development in society about these issues.

Now that I’ve said all of that, perhaps it should have been clear to me that they were a social enterprise – they are an organisation which wants to affect positive change through the resources and facilities that they have. That’s the way it should be.

I hope you enjoy this remarkable interview.


GWL website
GWL on Twitter
GWL on Facebook

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