Alumni Services

Leading lady

A love for literature and libraries coupled with a lifelong commitment to education has shaped the career of Lady Joyce Caplan.

Lady Joyce Caplan

Lady Joyce Caplan's role as President of the Friends of Edinburgh University Library allows her to lead a group of dedicated book lovers in supporting the care and conservation of the University’s rare and ancient collections.

It is a love of libraries that began at secondary school when the teenage Joyce was given her first taste of leadership in the literary world by running the school library.

A determination for education

Growing up in a mining village with her grandparents on the outskirts of Nottingham, Joyce sought haven in libraries and the literary classics.

An extremely bright student, she was disappointed when her grandmother’s negative views of women in education interrupted her studies and saw her leave school at the age of 15.

Unable to convince her grandmother of the value of furthering her education but still determined to do so; Joyce completed her qualifications on day release from her full time job in the local government accounts office.

Finally, at the age of 18, she was matriculated as a mature student in English Literature at The University of Nottingham.

Inspiration and dedication

Joyce’s battle to overcome her educational obstacles proved the catalyst for her subsequent work and career.

Inspired by her primary school teacher, she embarked on a career in primary teaching and was soon to become the youngest deputy head teacher in Scotland.

She also dedicated time and energy to lead and support vital services for children, such as the Children’s Panel and Play in Scottish Hospitals, as well as playing an active role in the voluntary sector via her love of literature.

A second chance

Lady Joyce Caplan

The help and encouragement from those who assisted her obtain her own qualifications has always stuck with Lady Caplan and she is very passionate about providing similar opportunities for those who wish to pursue their education later on in life.

Through her role as tutor of literature within the Office of Life Long Learning at Edinburgh, she helps people achieve their own educational aspirations while juggling the demands of everyday life.

Among friends

In her role as President of the Friends of Edinburgh University Library Lady Joyce works with her fellow ‘friends’ to support the care and conservation of the University’s collections.

The friends work hard to share some of the most rare and precious treasures with as many people as possible and being involved in this work is an extremely rewarding and fulfilling experience.

Lady Joyce Caplan

A masterpiece of Islamic painting

Currently on display at the Main Library is the World History of Rashid al-Din one of the most important illustrated medieval manuscripts to have survived and datable to 1314. Free and open to the public.

Lady Caplan hopes that this exhibition will attract more Edinburgh alumni, residents and visitors through the library doors to share in her love for libraries and the treasures that they contain.