Adele Patrick: Scotland’s Feminist Treasure Trove

November 21 - On The Dot
FIRST THOUGHT: One for the Books

If you ask most millennials about their favorite day of elementary school, they’ll likely tell you it involved Scholastic Book Fairs. Once a year, the library would be full of displays of books, their glossy covers and lively illustrations enthusiastically saying, “Buy me! Buy me!”

But you don’t have to buy books to develop a love of reading. That’s where a good old-fashioned library card comes in handy. Regardless of economic status, anyone can walk into a library and learn whatever tickles her fancy.


There are many memorable dates in history, like the declaration of American independence in 1776, or 1989, when the Berlin Wall came down. Here’s a great date in history: 859. That’s when the oldest surviving library on earth was first established, by a Muslim woman, as part of a university in Fez, Morocco. The library has since been restored by a female Canadian-Moroccan architect, and now holds more than 4,000 rare books and ancient manuscripts.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Adele Patrick, Co-founder of the Glasgow Women’s Library

We really do have women to thank for the proliferation of libraries, including one such pillar of learning called the Glasgow Women’s Library, the biggest feminism library in the United Kingdom, co-founded by Adele Patrick. This library, the only resource of its kind in Scotland and a true national treasure, houses all kinds of items of historic feminism significance, everything from magazines and cookbooks to Suffragette memorabilia, to dress and knitting patterns, and card games.

The concept for the Glasgow Women’s Library came about in 1990, when Adele created a grassroots project called Women in Profile, a feminist arts group that produced women-focused events. Eventually, Adele and other members had collected quite the collection of historic books, documents and materials about women, so they decided to start a library.

Twenty-five years, nearly two dozen staff members and 100 volunteers later, the library features more than 20,000 books and 300,000 archival items, all of which were donated and tell centuries of stories about women. One of the few places in the world where visitors can seek out shelves and shelves filled with books by women authors, the Glasgow Women’s Library is no ordinary library; it is a wonderful treasure trove of historical and contemporary artifacts and archive materials that celebrate the lives, histories and achievements of women. The library also hosts unique events and projects throughout the year. And in 2016, it received funding for a project called In Her Shoes, which aims to produce innovative and accessible prejudice-reduction resources for organizations and institutions throughout Scotland.

When she’s not sustaining such a long-lasting and monumental institution, Adele enjoys playing backgammon on her balcony and getting together with her book club, which has been going strong for 10 years. Oh yeah, and earlier this year, she was awarded the highly esteemed Scotswoman of the Year award for her amazing library accomplishments.

Women’s history is wrought with stories that can cause anger and sadness, but these stories are a testament to what we, as women, have endured. If centuries of women’s history have taught us anything, it’s that we can stay strong in the face of adversity and overcome just about anything.


I’ll leave you with this quote by former first lady Laura Bush, also a former librarian:

“Libraries allow children to ask questions about the world and find the answers. And the wonderful thing is that once a child learns to use a library, the doors to learning are always open.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

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