The history of female jurors in Scotland

When was the first woman juror in Scotland, and what did people think about them?

I volunteered at my workplace last year for Doors Open Day, opening up the library as a stop for guided “behind the scenes” and “historic” tours of the building complex. The library was a popular stop, and the public asked a lot of questions, some of which I could answer, and some I couldn’t. One of the questions was “when did a woman first sit on a jury in Scotland?”. What was the answer? I had no idea! I knew it would have to be around about the time women first got the vote, but I didn’t know how closely tied that was to women sitting on juries, or what the process of female jurors being authorised was.

So, I decided to find out. I couldn’t find any ready information on ladies in Scottish juries (although this resource is very helpful for information on English lady jurors), so I thought I’d do a bit of digging in the newspapers of the time. Because it’s awesome, the National Library of Scotland has a wealth of electronic resources available remotely to residents of Scotland. I knew that it had a variety of newspaper resources, and for the time period I was looking at (1918 – 1928), The Scotsman Digital Archive was perfect, so I went hunting through it. It has an Edinburgh bias, but covers news from all over Scotland, the UK and the world, so it should be a reliable resource. So I somehow ended up down a rabbit hole of newspaper articles, letters to the editor, and teeth-grindingly patronising attitudes about the “weaker sex”. This is not an academic review, rather a review of newspaper reports available at the time – hopefully this is of interest!


Legislative history and implementation

Ladies have been able to sit on juries in the UK since the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 came into force. On August 9th 1920, a Bill was introduced to regulate how “Scottish women jurors” would be introduced and managed in the courts (1). The resulting Jurors (Enrolment of Women) (Scotland) Act was given Royal Assent on 16th August 1920, with a timescale of no more than 6 months for it to be brought into effect: “new lists of jurors shall be prepared and come into use in every county within six months after the passing of this Act”. The Court of Session passed an Act of Sederunt regulating the procedure for juries with women on 7th February 1921 (2), and in advance of the February 1921 deadline, in Edinburgh in December 1920 Sheriff Crole instructed the Sheriff Clerk to create a new jurors roll for the city and county, including eligible men and women, and 27,500 circulars were issued (3). The citations for the Edinburgh Sheriff Court were the first to be issued, and there was discussion of the potential for lady jurors to be cited for duty in the 14th March 1921 trial of “the alleged Sinn Fein prisoners” (4).



Ladies sat for first time at the Old Bailey in London on 11th January 1921 (5). Soon after, they sat in a divorce court (the Allen case) as part of a mixed jury on 25th January 1921 (6). The lady jurors of the divorce case had some of the letters and photos that were submitted as evidence withheld from them at the suggestion of the judge, and a member of the bar excused himself from describing them to them, as they were  ”too revolting for women to hear” (7).



The first female jurors in Scotland sat in Edinburgh Sheriff Court on the 10th of March 1921. The case involved the theft of grain from a warehouse in Leith (8). The text below is from the Scotsman report on the event, from the 11th March 1921 (9).

“Jury Women

Pioneers of the New Order in Edinburgh

Time is a revolutionary in its treatment of the law courts and their procedure. The impression was created by a visit to an upper room in Edinburgh Sheriff Court House yesterday. From a first glance the previous visit might have been the day before; as a matter of fact, the interval was wide. Women for the first time in the city sat on a jury. The gentler sex have been petitioners, Portia’s and other characters in the dramas of the Courts; now they entered into the prerogative of the men, and shared the duty of weighing evidence and returning verdicts. The half-dozen women summoned were in plenty of time for the proceedings, and after all had answered to the roll-call, they smiled and waited the fate of the ballot, for, of course, more were called than need be chosen.

They were to hear one of the statutory inquiries into a number of fatal accidents, and for that purpose a jury of seven had to be empanelled. The first name drawn was that of a man, and finally, when the seven citizens “good and true” had been called, they included three ladies, one of whom was married. From the point of view of the visual amenities of the courtroom, the presence of the ladies in fur and feathers on the jurors’ benches was no disadvantage. “Jury men and jury women” said the Sheriff Principal to those whose services were not required, “I thank you for your attendance, and you are now at liberty to go.” Did a momentary disappointment cloud the brow of the women who were left out? At any rate, one lady lingered on to watch the proceedings, possibly with the idea that they may serve better next time who only sit and wait. Others made a quick exit, and one woman, basket on arm, with may be a presentiment that things would turn out so, was perhaps able to carry out a shopping plan after all.

Then there were unfolded for the mixed jury five stories of the casualties which occur periodically in the great army of industry. There were pit accidents, those tragedies which occur in the subterranean darkness where the coal is won; there was a brickworks fatality in which a man was apparently struck down suddenly by the machinery. For the examination of the causes and circumstances of these cases the women had to follow narratives by witnesses which were at times necessarily technical, but they gave the statements their close attention from first to last. They seemed keenly interested in their new job, and though every case had the angel of death in the background, they did not shirk the saddening details upon which the presence in the Court of other women in black – from the homes where the blows had fallen – was a realistic commentary. For a first experience, their judicial functions were, however, comparatively light, for the verdicts in these inquiries are usually formal. In certain of the cases questions of fault were raised, but, on the suggestion of the Sheriff, who pointed out the possibility of other proceedings in regard to them, the jury returned open verdicts. The women discussed the evidence with their male colleagues on the jury, and through a sitting which lasted for three and a half hours were alert listeners to evidence and observers of procedure. At the close, Sheriff Crole thanked the jury for their services, and commented upon the first appearance of women in their new role, and expressed the hope that the long sitting had not been too much for them.”

Female jurors were expected to first sit in Glasgow Sheriff Court on the 15th of March 1921 (10) and the first lady jurors in the Court of Session sat on the 17th of March 1921 (11), before Lord Sands. “The case submitted to the jury, whom counsel addressed as “members of the jury” had reference to a claim for damages arising out of a Leith tram-car accident.” This case appears to be unreported, notable only for the jurors rather than the legal points.The first mixed jury sat in Glasgow Sheriff Court on the 21st of March 1921 (12).

The first murder trial with female jurors in Scotland was heard in Perth on the 5th of April 1921 (13).


Reception of female jurors

Although there is regular reference to the belief that women sitting on juries is an experiment, and that it would be “reconsidered by Parliament”(14), it soon became settled that women were regular participants in juries. The advent of women jurors seems to generally have been received with equanimity in Scotland.

Prior to their introduction in Scotland, a case in West Bromwich Sessions was a topic of discussion in December 1920 (15), as the female jurors had been objected to due to their “inexperience”. A response by a Dora Rees in the letters page a few days later pointed out that the onus in that situation was not on the jurors to have experience, but on the judge to manage the case properly, and asked “what experience or legal knowledge a juror is supposed to have?”(16).

An editorial in The Scotsman, regarding the withholding of the “revolting” evidence in the English divorce case which female jurors sat on, was not impressed with the action of the Judge in the case in doing so.They point out that “in the operating wards of our hospitals, in the mixed classes of our medical schools, neither nurses nor women medical students nor anyone else are embarrassed by false prudery”(17).

A group of Scottish women’s organisations wrote to the Scotsman to protest about the way the judge in the Allen divorce case had handled the issue of having women on the jury. They stated that the distinction made by the judge between male and female jurors was “highly improper, and stands in the way of women jurors being able to carry out their work efficiently, and that this would be likely to lead to the service of women on juries being discredited, and even falling into desuetude”(18).

Discussions at a meeting of the Edinburgh Women Citizen’s Association on February 24th 1921 were interesting (19). J Robertson Christie, Principal Clerk of Justiciary was supportive of the idea that women jurors could be useful in certain types of cases (namely those involving other women or children as witnesses), but was more dubious about their value otherwise. This was not due to objections to the idea of women serving, but because the speaker preferred an option where “public-spirited, trained women who felt themselves qualified to be of use in this particular department of citizenship might have volunteered to have their names placed upon a roll from which jury women might be summoned.” The meeting also poured scorn upon the actions of the judge in the English divorce case of the previous month, stating that “If there happened here in a civil trial what happened in a trial in England not long ago – when certain parts of the evidence were withheld because they were supposed to be too revolting for them – the verdict would be set aside, because no jury was entitled to assume the functions of the jury which was not prepared to decide upon the evidence.”

In a “Letter to the Editor” by a Charles A Salmond in October 1921 expressed a variety of objections to female jurors (20). One point was that of the “propriety of dragging gentlewomen of retiring and refined instinct” onto juries for “often nasty” cases. He was also concerned about how a woman juror would cope with having to “disregard…her feelings and all of her home ties and duties”, while claiming that he did “not presume to refer to the mentality of ladies or to suggest one thing or the other about their capacity” to sit effectively as jurors. Instead, he claimed that women were physically unsuited to sit as jurors, and this could lead to new juries constantly having to be summoned, as woman after woman would swoon away when exposed to the physical hardships of…sitting in a jury box. He conceded that there “may be cases in which women jurors may very appropriately serve”, but he urged that “the new system should be drastically modified”.

Rebuttals of the previous concerns regarding the delicate nature of women and the problem of them being exposed to distasteful evidence were regular.

Mrs Seaton-Tiedeman, Secretary of the Divorce Reform Law Union said that “nowhere were women more needed than in the Courts of the country”, and that expecting women to be innocent was unwise, as “knowledge is a great protection” (21).

In April 1922, there is an exchange of letters between J Forbes Moncrieff, who declares that judging “from the conversation of women generally” saying that “very few of them have the slightest desire to serve as jurors”(22), and Dora Rees of the Edinburgh Women Citizens’ Association rebuts his statements, saying “the same conclusion may be drawn from the conversations of men generally” (23). Moncrieff responds, asserting that he has “a strong conviction that I speak for a large number of women” when he claims that men are better suited for jury work (24). He continued in his conviction that women were unsuited for jury work, and should only do it voluntarily, with another letter to The Scotsman in November 1824. He asserted that he believed that the female jurors in a recent case “like many (possibly most) women, were serving in this capacity very unwillingly” (25). Dora Rees appears to have give up responding to him after her letter in April, and I can’t say I blame her: J. Forbes Moncrieff is unshakeable in his manly conviction that he speaks for the silent majority of women! Instead, “A Woman Citizen” responded to that letter, stating that “women of clean mind and habit are the best agents yet discovered for clearing away filth, and that they shrink from such work has not deterred them from doing it all down the ages” (26). Whether A Woman Citizen was Dora Rees is unknown, but J. Forbes Moncrieff did not respond to this letter. Perhaps he finally accepted that he was not qualified to speak on behalf of all women? In support of A Woman Citizen’s response, a letter from “A. Mother” on 1 December 1924 seconds her previous comments, and refutes the “sad view” that “women will be contaminated by hearing filthy evidence”(27).

It appears that sitting as a juror was initially something that ladies could excuse themselves from when asked by the judge if they wanted to do so, but this was not something that was occurring in Scotland. Those being tried also apparently had the right to object to female jurors hearing their case, and if this happened, they were dismissed. Again, this does not appear to have happened in Scotland, with mention of defendants objecting to female jurors all relating to English cases. Another concern was how to address female jurors, as “gentlemen of the jury” was no longer accurate, so “members of the jury” seems to have taken its place (28).

By 1923, female jurors seems to be firmly established as a part of normal court business in Scotland, sitting on a variety of cases. The Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Alness, praised female jurors in a speech to the Associated Societies of the University of Edinburgh in January 1923 (29):

“Touching on public service rendered by women, Lord Alness remarked that it was not too much to say that their position vis a vis of the State, had within recent years been revolutionised. Now, in the exercise of the franchise, in the practice of the professions, in Parliament and outside of it, they were substantially on the same footing as men. He had been very much struck recently by the service rendered by women upon juries – particularly in criminal cases. They sat a few weeks ago on numerous juries at the High Court in Glasgow, and they dealt competently and sympathetically with some of the most difficult and terrible cases which had come within the range of his professional experience. He was satisfied that in dealing in particular with cases where young children were concerned, their services were quite invaluable.”

And entertainingly, by January 1922, you could have placed a bet on a Lady Juror…in the Victoria Cup at Hurst (30). She appears to have had quite a successful career: by September 1922 she won the Jockey Club Sweepstakes at Newmarket (31), and was still winning five years later at Lingfield in 1927 (32).

It looks like the Lady Juror was definitely a good long-term bet 😉


  1. Jurors (Enrolment of Women) (Scotland) Act 1920, Ch 53, Royal Assent 16th August 1920, coming into force no later than 6 months after Royal Assent = mid-February 1921
  2. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 07 Feb 1921: 7
  3. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 14 Dec 1920: 3
  4. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 04 Mar 1921: 4
  5. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 12 Jan 1921: 6
  6. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 26 Jan 1921: 7
  7. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 29 Jan 1921: 8
  8. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 19 Mar 1921: 8
  9. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 11 Mar 1921: 4
  10. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 15 Mar 1921: 4
  11. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 18 Mar 1921: 4
  12. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 15 Mar 1921: 4
  13. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 06 Apr 1921: 7
  14. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 29 Jan 1921: 11
  15. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 07 Dec 1920: 6
  16. Rees, Dora. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 11 Dec 1920: 13
  17. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 29 Jan 1921: 8
  18. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 05 Feb 1921: 9
  19. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 25 Feb 1921: 3
  20. CHARLES A SALMOND D D. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 12 Oct 1921: 10
  21. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 29 Jan 1921: 11
  22. J FORBES MONCRIEFF. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 08 Apr 1922: 13
  23. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 14 Apr 1922: 7
  24. J FORBES MONCRIEFF. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 18 Apr 1922: 6
  25. J FORBES MONCRIEFF. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 27 Nov 1924: 7
  26. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 28 Nov 1924: 5
  27. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 01 Dec 1924: 5
  28. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 18 Mar 1921: 4
  29. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 18 Jan 1923: 9
  30. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 27 Jan 1922: 3
  31. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 29 Sep 1922: 4
  32. The Scotsman; Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland] 14 Apr 1927: 8



A ladyfellowing

Well, in January this year, I submitted my Fellowship portfolio, and heard in April that it had been successful, making me now officially a Ladyfellow and able to add FCLIP after my name, yay!

Me registration fees were paid in September 2015, so technically it took less than 18 months from registration to submission. However, that doesn’t include the good few months before that, preparing my thoughts, talking to my mentor, and plotting out just how I would Get This Damn Thing Done, so realistically, it was more like a 2 year process.

So, how big a task was it? In a “dear god, what have I done” moment, I totalled up the word count of all items in the portfolio, and it came to approximately 30,000 words. That’s easily the largest piece of work I’ve ever produced (I’m a rubbish student, so I’ve never had to produce an academic dissertation). So yes, it turns out that reviewing your career and achievements to date, and reflecting on what you’ve learned from all of your experiences is quite time consuming and makes for a hefty piece of work! Undertaking Fellowship does make you critically assess your skills – everyone develops as they progress in their career, but you rarely get time and space to think about the ways, and the whys. Fellowship specifically makes you think about this, and also about whether this development in your skills and knowledge was planned, plannable, voluntary or involuntary….

So, would I recommend doing Fellowship, if you’re in a point in your career where you’re considering it? Well, I’d advise taking all the information below into account, and making your own choices….

  • What’s the time commitment?

I won’t lie – doing Fellowship takes a significant commitment of your personal time. It’s highly unlikely you’re going to be able to fit the work needed into your normal working day, unless you have both a very understanding and supportive employer, and the ability to block out substantial amounts of time from your working day. Unless you have both these elements in place, you have to understand from the start that you’ll be doing this in your own time, and that means using your evenings, weekends, and yes, annual leave.

  • How’s your motivation?

Are you self motivated? You’d better be! Because the person setting the deadlines for this is you, so you have to be both realistic, and strict – set realistic targets, and stick to them. Or agree with your mentor that they have free reign to berate you if you slack off. It’s very easy to let progress slip or stall if there’s nobody being let down but yourself. I was odd, and competed against myself to beat my own deadlines

  • Who are you doing it for?

If you are doing this for anything other than personal satisfaction, you’re going to be disappointed. You may be lucky enough to be in a workplace that will recognise and celebrate your achievement, but sadly the majority won’t. Also, you may end up changing employer/workplace during the Fellowship process, so don’t tie your motivation to workplace recognition – it has to be an entirely personal process. And as for financial recognition of the achievement – forget it! Fellowship has no positive effect on your salary! Unless you maybe work in that utopian workplace with lots of time for doing this sort of professional activity during the day…

  • You can’t predict when you’ll be ready to think deeply about your career!

If you’re like me, you need to be in the right mood to be introspective. And there is not one single thing you can do to make yourself be in that mood. So you’re going to feel like you “waste” a lot of time, when you’ve scheduled it in for working on your portfolio but instead find yourself clicking through dozens of Buzzfeed stories…

  • You will need others to help you

Fellowship can be a confusing process at times (not helped by the minimal guidance, and the fact that the Fellowship Handbook is 99.9% the same as the Certification and Chartership ones, with the word Fellowship swapped in), and it can be really easy to get lost and lose motivation. As the process is as individual as you are, it can be difficult for even experienced mentors to know how to help you sometimes. Find people who’re also doing Fellowship and support each other – it helps build a pool of knowledge that helps everyone. I was part of a wiki where mentors and mentees discussed their individual processes, and talked to others about how they were doing things. It helped!

  • Give yourself a break

It’s highly likely that you’ll have a demanding job (who doesn’t these days?), and that will always be your priority when you’re determining what to spend time on. Next comes your personal life – that thing you have when you’re not in work, but which is also demanding (in different ways from your job). After that, comes professional activities like Fellowship. Juggling these competing priorities can be tricky, but never lose sight of the fact that you work to live, not live to work (I know, but who can resist a good cliche?), and give yourself a break when attending to those other things push Fellowship progress back a bit.

  • It commits you to continued membership of CILIP

Due to a change in the way the Professional Registration system (i.e. Certification, Chartership and Fellowship) works, you can now join CILIP and immediately begin the Fellowship process. Previously, it was (perhaps officially, perhaps unofficially, all I know is this is what I know) recommended that you undertake 3 Revalidation cycles (when Revalidation was done every three years and required the submission of the equivalent of your Chartership portfolio), and then you’d be ready to begin the Fellowship process Things are much more straightforward now, but it does mean people may be joining without having had time to discover if the organisation suits their needs. Once you’re a Fellow, if you leave CILIP, you lose the post-nominals, as you can only use them if you’re a current member. That’s as it should be – would you trust a Chartered surveyor who’s no longer a member of their professional body, but were still saying they were Chartered? So, the only person who can judge if those post-nominals are worth the initial investment of time (CPD hours and portfolio creation) and money (registration and submission fees), and the ongoing investment of money (membership fees) is you.

So, with those thoughts in mind, consider whether it’s right for you. 

Personally, I’m glad I did it. I was working on it during a time of huge professional upheaval for me (I remained in one workplace during it, but had four different managers in those two years; the library moved from one department internally, to another, to another; I restarted one library service from scratch, and set up another one; recruited and trained for both; took on a promoted role; and we’re now preparing to launch and eventually integrate the two libraries into an organisation-wide, national library service).

It made me focus on what my skills are, and unpick why I did the things I did, and therefore why I do the things I do. It was in some ways like a self-therapy session, spanning a couple of years. My mentor is now probably the person who knows the most about my career, and was able to give objective input regarding situations that I had struggled with, and help me to see that I needed to be less harsh about myself and my skills, and accept that I was more competent than I had believed. Her dedication to the process, and intensive support for me during it was key to getting me through it, meaning it is as much her achievement as mine. So: THANK YOU CÉLINE, you’re the best of mentors!!

Do you read with your eyes, or your ears?

This article discusses the decline in ebook sales, and explains some of the potential future challenges, once of which is that the main growth area seems to be audiobooks. Publishers are now seeing audiobooks as their best area for growth rather than ebooks.

This does not make me happy! I am not an old fashioned person who expects a book to be a physical object – I have both a well-stuffed Kindle and a rapidly read-and-returned collection of charity shop purchased books at home. Physical books are merely containers for the exciting contents, and the contents work as well digitally as they do physically. What I don’t have in my home however is any audiobooks. Because I hate the damn things.

I just cannot get on with them. For a while a few years ago I commuted by driving for about 30 minutes each way in often-semi-static traffic. So I thought I’d put some audiobooks on in the car so the time was a little bit more productive. Nope: it didn’t work for me. I was focused on the driving/traffic, so I tuned out everything non-essential to that…which includes voices…which meant I listened to maybe a third of the book the first time around, and the rest was when I rewound/repeated the chapter. Which is not easy to do if you’re concentrating primarily on being in control of a car rather than fiddling with CD player buttons, so often I couldn’t manage to do that. Which meant I got a very disjointed overall experience, and really didn’t have much of a clue if the book was good or bad, because I hadn’t fully experienced it.

Also: oh my GAWD, the narrators talk SO SLOWLY!! I read fast, so I can whizz through books in a few hours. But the equivalent “size” audiobook will take hours to listen to. And hours. And hours. So slow. So frustrating. I feel like I’m wasting so much time listening, when I could be enjoying reading.

The other problem I have is because I’ve not actually read the book myself, but it’s been read to me instead, it means that I don’t keep anywhere near the amount of information/knowledge about it in my head that I would retain if I’d been more “active” in my consumption. It’s like reading the comic book version of a classic novel – the story’s there, but the nuance is gone. I want to remember the whole thing, not just the bits that caught my attention as the words dawdled by me.

So please…take pity on a woman who just likes to read with her eyes, not her ears, and don’t take away my ebooks!

2016, the year that tried to break me..

Well, THAT was a busy year! And it’s not going to get any quieter this year either….

So, why was it so hard? Well, last year involved these things in the library:

  • Implementing a brand new Library Management System
  • Getting the core library materials (textbooks and looseleafs) recatalogued (1,200+ items by the end of the year) on the new LMS
  • Reclassifying all library materials to a new in-house classification system
  • Setting up the subscription records for hundreds of journals and looseleafs
  • Relocating all stock to match the new classification system, over a three floor library
  • Driven to the Borders and back three times, to pack and relocate 40 sacks of books and law reports
  • Setting up and stocking a new room with library materials
  • Coping with recruiting and training three different assistants in six months*
  • Spending a month running the library on my own
  • Me having two different managers
  • Managing a mid-year wholesale move of the library from the oversight of one department in the organisation to another
  • Dealing with the associated chaos related to every single thing that had previously worked smoothly when we were in the original department 
  • Hosting a pre-law intern for two months
  • Hosting a Masters student on placement for a month
  • Gaining the assistance of a librarian volunteer to help with the recataloguing project
  • Writing a demanding but successful business case
  • Going through the process of successfully recruiting a Doctoral candidate to work on a proposed archive project
  • Taking on a temporary promotion in order to focus on setting up a new library service
  • Drafting job descriptions for both my own promoted role, and two new library roles 
  • Starting the internal and external recruitment process for two new library roles.

So, not all bad things, but definitely a huge amount of work for two (or at times just one) people to have done, often utterly phyically exhausting work too – book relocations from the Borders, and manual moving of all stock over three library floors.

We have been hugely assisted by the amazing volunteers we had/have, in the form of EM (top legal research and analysis skills, eternally cheerful book relocator) and LM (amazing cataloguer and super focussed relabeller). WT our Robert Gordon placement student was an absolute star, and came in at a point where discussing how the library worked (or didn’t) helped to identify things we should be looking at reviewing. Plus, she left us a fab marketing plan to use in future!

Also, KM the Assistant Librarian has been the brightest point in the year. She came in to a situation where I was drowning in workload and struggling to keep things to the high standard I expected the library to provide. She immediately started taking on responsibilities, without me having to task them to her, and I quiskly learned that could trust her to do the work to the same level (or higher) than I would have done it myself. She is a wizard with spreadsheets, and she’s built on the excellent work of KB, to bring order and clarity to the budget spend, renewal dates, predicted invoicing and all sorts of things that were just impossible for me to get to. She’s rapidly developed advanced research skills (she already had a good headstart with her law background) and can do pretty much anything that comes in as an enquiry. She has almost certainly saved me from having a breakdown this year, because I was able to begin taking time off, and know I wouldn’t just be coming in to all the work I’d left, plus more that had built up when I was off. I was able to discuss plans for the library, and her input helped shape them in a way that was right for the service and our work capacity. If KM hadn’t come in, I don’t know how I’d have got through this year. And now she’s going to be able to continue her work, as she will be covering my librarian role as I step away from running the library service to temporarily take on a new role.Together with KB, the Assistant Librarian who will return this month, they are going to be an amazing team in the library, and I’m really excited about what they’re going to be doing with the service when it’s in their hands!

Next year promises to be equally hectic, with me taking on responsibility for creating a new library service within the organisation.This will involve getting the library location fitted out, ensuring the resources are there for the library staff, integrating the existing LMS with the new service, creating a user portal for each element of the service (existsing and new), recruiting the new staff, training the new staff, communicating to the organisation what is going on, and anything and everything else that comes up.

I am quite sad in some ways about my new role, as it involves stepping away from the day to day work of the existing library service, in order to oversee the creation and management of an equivalent service to meet the needs of the other part of the organisation. I’ve never been in a library role where I didn’t have responsibility for doing legal research or user training, and I don’t know how I’m going to cope. The research work is one of my favourite parts of the job, so it may be something I’ll really miss. Or maybe I’ll enjoy the policy work more – one of my tasks in the new role will be to develop and implement service-wide policies: collection management, stock selection, disaster management, stock insurance policies…

And I have a lot of other stuff to do to: I have an ILM qualification I’m close to finishing but I can never find time for (other than at home and weekends, which is not how a work-based qualification is meant to work), the Informed award that I’m involved in, and I’m inching closer to getting my Fellowship portfolio together. So I’d like to get those cleared off my plate so I can focus on other things.

So, 2017 – I can do this!

* The turnover wasn’t because of me, it was because one person went on maternity leave, and a different job opportunity that came up for the first maternity cover person, meaning they needed to be replaced by a third person within three months.