Bridgeton Library and Mediatheque

Bridgeton Library exterior
Bridgeton Library

Bridgeton Library opened in December 2012 in the Olympia, a former variety theatre and cinema, redeveloped with the help of Clyde Gateway. I’ve visited several times before, as it’s just across the road from Glasgow Women’s Library which is now based in its old premises – see my post on Scottish Women on Wikipedia, an event GWL held in Bridgeton Library, for photos of the interior. This visit was organised by MmITS (Multimedia Information and Technology Scotland) specifically to look at the Mediatheque.

However, before we did that Sally Clegg told us a bit about the plans behind the new library and we had a tour of the rest of the building. Bridgeton is an area of multiple deprivation and Glasgow Libraries wanted to do something different for the community. They used focus groups, although not all the ideas were practical – one man requested that children should be banned! In fact, the library now has a very attractive children’s library complete with Julia Donaldson mural. Overall, it is a bright and welcoming place with clear zoning. It has a training suite (which we used for the Wikipedia event) and 32 PCs in total, as opposed to just 6 in the old library. A Turning Pages table shares library information and information and work from the community – there is a Book Group and groups for poetry and creative writing. Issues have tripled since the move and Bridgeton has gone from the bottom five to the top ten of Glasgow’s 32 libraries – that seems pretty good to me, although they are still hoping for more.

The Library occupies the ground floor of the building. At the moment, the top floor is a huge, unoccupied loft space with good views over the roofs of Bridgeton. The middle floor is used by Boxing Scotland – apparently, boxers have been training there for the Commonwealth Games but it was empty when we passed.

Finally, it was on to the Mediatheque which opened a little later than the library – almost a year ago. Karen Gillies and Stephen MacPherson talked us through this. From purpose-built booths you can access a digital jukebox of over 2000 items from the BFI Archive, including some Scottish material but nothing local to Bridgeton as yet. Stephen had provided a list of sites he thought might interest us – I was particularly taken by Whatsoever a man soweth, a silent film from 1917 warning soldiers about the perils of loose women. The unfortunately named (Private?) Dick was rescued from peril several times by fearsome-looking busybodies and despatched to a VD clinic to see the consequences of falling. I then chanced upon a lovely little set of films with people from Gateshead talking about their reactions to the building of the Angel of the North. After that we had tea and biscuits and further chat before heading home with our goody bags. Thanks to all the staff at Bridgeton for showing us this wonderful initiative, and to MmITS for organising the visit. The Mediatheque is free to use during library opening hours.

RCPSG - Lower Library
RCPSG – Lower Library

This was not the only library visit I have been on in the last couple of weeks. I also went to the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow Library with SALCTG and wrote it up on the SALCTG blog. It’s another fascinating building – if you want to take a look yourself the Crush Hall (with a monthly changing exhibition) and the Library Reading Room are open to the public on Monday afternoons from 2pm till 5pm.


Scottish Women on Wikipedia

Bridgeton Library exterior
Bridgeton Library

I’ve often dipped into Wikipedia, but I didn’t start to take it seriously until a couple of years ago when I attended a Teachmeet at which one of the presenters changed my mind. He convinced me that Wikipedia was more accurate than I had thought – and where it isn’t accurate, it says so. It tracks and discusses revisions so, rather than banning students from using it, they should be taught to use it responsibly. However, it never occurred to me to become an editor until Glasgow Women’s Library, where I volunteer, was approached by Graeme Arnott with a proposal for an “Editathon” on Scottish Women on Wikipedia. The title had two implications – to get more Scottish women editing Wikipedia, and to increase the content about Scottish women. Graeme, myself and Laura Dolan of GWL made some plans and the event took place at Bridgeton Library on Saturday, assisted by Ally Crockford, Wikimedian in Residence at the National Library of Scotland. We ended up with eight potential new editors, two complete articles (so far) and several in preparation.

Although advertised as a drop-in, most people were there all day. We spent the morning learning the basics from Graeme (a very patient teacher) and were then let loose in the afternoon. I’ve been blogging for a long time and use several social media platforms, but I found Wikipedia harder than all of them because you have to do more of the formatting yourself. However, once you’ve mastered a few rules and realised you can basically copy the code from other articles it becomes easier – but still very fiddly. It’s not something I can see myself wanting to do everyday, although I am keen to do more. We had all brought along some information that we wanted to make available, and I just managed to get my pre-drafted article on Isabella Elder published before we closed at 4pm. I was very proud to be the first! Jennifer Higgins finished her article on Jude Burkhauser the following day. Check out the articles to find out why these women are important.

It was also a pleasure to work in the recently opened Bridgeton Library which has moved from its old, Carnegie premises (now occupied by GWL) to the refurbished Britannia Building, a former theatre. It’s bright and modern with good computer facilities and a café which, sadly for us, doesn’t open on Saturdays. Like many Glasgow Libraries, the children’s area is particularly colourful.

GWL still has a substantial list of women who feature, for example, on their Women’s Heritage Walks but who are not on Wikipedia (or only briefly) and I have started my own list of possible subjects. I’ll be looking out for more Editathons too – watch this space!

Some related material on Wikipedia and Editathons:

BioFluff – post about an Editathon in Manchester which also highlights the gender disparity

FemgineerCalling all women: contribute to wikipedia

MIT Technology ReviewThe decline of Wikipedia. (Huh?)

JISC WebinarTales from the Wikimedian in Residence at the NLS

Storify – about this event

THE – report of an editathon on women scientists

Wikipedia gender – graphic showing the ratio of female to male editors (1:6.7)

Wikipedia:GLAM/National Library of Scotland

Youtube: Sarah Stierch – various presentations on Wikimedia, including the gender gap