Sunday, January 28, 2007

London's Feminist Library needs YOU


The following notice is being circulated. Please feel free to pass it on.

Forthcoming Event


Dear Feminists

The management committee of the Feminist Library is calling an emergency meeting on Saturday 24th February 2007 to decide on whether to close the library for good. This meeting is a last ditch attempt to rally feminists to support our library and, if we are not able to come up with a solution, to discuss finding another suitable home for the collection. Those of you who
have not been in touch for a while might like to know that the collection now also includes 75 boxes of material that was the Women’s Health Librarythat we rescued from being thrown in a skip over the summer.

For a number of years the Feminist Library has existed in a state of permanent emergency, with a dwindling number of volunteers to take part in running the library, a precarious financial situation, uncertainty about its location, and a lack of womanpower to pursue crucial funding applications.

The current group of volunteers is no longer able to sustain the situation, and the library will be forced to close without an injection of new volunteers. Therefore the meeting will have a dual function: to decide on whether or not the library will continue to stay open, and to gather
experience, advice and new volunteers to reinvigorate the management committee, or help the committee find a suitable home for the collection if the decision is taken to close.

The meeting will take place at 11am at the Feminist Library on Saturday 24th February. There will be the opportunity to look around the library and to chat to us, followed by a more formal discussion.

Please distribute this invitation to attend as widely as possible. Feedback from the many feminist groups and individuals who have an interest in the library is very important to us, as well as the need to get extra help.

As a basis for discussion at the meeting, we are preparing a short document on the library’s current plight and what our future options could be. If you would like to receive a copy before the meeting, or have other questions, or are considering volunteering, please contact us by email
( or post (Feminist Library, 5 Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7XW). If you wish to speak to us by phone, please include your phone number in your message and we will get back to you as quickly as possible, although it may take a few days. RSVP is preferred but not essential.

Charlotte, Gail, Jess and Polly on behalf of the current management

The Feminist Library
5 Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7XW
Registered Charity no. 272410

It's highly unlikely I'll be able to attend, but I'm shocked that I'd never even HEARD of this place and am only now being told that a) it exists and b) it might not exist by the time I actually get a chance to visit London for the first time (goodness knows when that'll be). If you can go, if you think that preserving the opinions of women is important, then head down there and spread this message.

From their 2005 newsletter (PDF warning, but a good example of what they do):

The Feminist Library is the largest lending and reference library of contemporary feminist material in the UK. Established in 1975, the collection includes approximately 10,000 books, 1500 journals, 1200 articles, 1750 pamphlets and ephemera.
The library specialises in literature about the women's movement and holds archives from the Women's Liberation Movement. It houses both fiction and non-fiction books as well as a selection of journals from all over the world.
Much of this material is not available in other libraries. The collection includes books on/by working class women, black women, women of colour, Irish women, Jewish women, lesbians, older women and women with disabilities.
The Feminist Library provides information about women's studies courses, services and current events.


  1. IF it does close down, why don't they move/give everything to another library?
    Oh, and isn't there a womans library in Glasgow? I don't know if it's the same kinda thing or what, I just see the sign for it everytime I go to a1 comics.

  2. Just did a little digging about and found this:

    Now I need to ask why there isn't a Men's Library.

  3. Glasgow does indeed have a women's library, which is currently being relocated to the Mitchell Library. However, it is not such an extensive collection as they do in London. It's probably like comparing a medium-sized private collection of wax heads to Madame Tussaud's.

    If the London one were to close, there's no guaruntee that they'd be able to find a single place willing to house their entire collection - meaning that it would end up spread out and harder to access. And they mentioned that they had to rescue some recent material from a skip. If they closed, there is a distinct possibility that some of their materials would either be thrown away or would end up out of the public reach under private ownership. The whole point of the London Feminist Library is that they have a huge collection of feminist resources from all over the place under one roof where everyone can find and borrow them.

  4. If you want to find a Men's library, trot on down to the nearest public library. I can assure you that it'll be full to bursting by works written by men, about men, and sometimes, at the time of writing, with the expectation that only men would read them.