The Feminist Library is Britain’s pre-eminent collection of Women’s Liberation Movement and feminist literature with an incomparable collection of over 7,000 books, 1,500 periodical titles from around the world, archives of feminist individuals and organisations, pamphlets and ephemera, including many original posters, 600 unpublished papers and a small but important collection of archives from the women’s liberation movement.
The collection includes both fiction and non-fiction, and also a large collection of feminist poetry, and many of the items are unique to the library.
Based in London and run by a collective of volunteers, the Feminist Library has been supporting feminist research, activists and community projects since 1975 and this year is the library’s 40th anniversary.
Formerly known as the Women’s Research and Resources Centre, the library was set up by feminist activists and academics to record and document the burgeoning women’s liberation movement, safeguard its history and further the aims of the movement.
The Feminist Library’s former homes include above Sisterwrite Bookshop in Upper Street, next to Spare Rib in Clerkenwell Close, and above A Woman’s Place on the Embankment, before being moved as the Feminist Library to its present home in Southwark after the Greater London Council was abolished in 1986.
The Feminist Library, like many feminist enterprises, is completely unfunded and has faced more than its fair share of crises and uncertainties. It has been unable to afford paid workers for many years and several times in its 40-year history it has looked like the library might close and its collections be dispersed.
However, despite it all, the Feminist Library has remained open thanks to the hard work and dedication of the many women involved in running the library, and is going from strength to strength.
The recent upsurge of interest in feminism and feminist activism has seen a huge increase in the number of people and groups visiting and using the library, its collections and facilities, and the library is still providing crucial space for people to learn, educate and organise around feminist issues.
However, there are once again serious concerns about the future of the library. Our current location is damp and cramped and about to become seriously unaffordable as Southwark Council moves to collect market-rate rent. We are facing unsustainable increases in our rent and charges and as such need to find a new, more secure home to house this unique resource and community space.
The Feminist Library collective is launching a campaign to find a new, permanent and secure home. We are using this International Women’s Day as an opportunity to highlight the important work that the library does and request financial support for the library and help to find a new home.
To find out how you can help, please visit here where there are details about how to make a one-off or regular donation, a sample trade union motion to put to your union branch and details of other ways to support the Feminist Library.
The Feminist Library is open Tuesday 6-9 pm, Wednesday 5-9pm, Thursday 6-9pm and Saturday 12-5pm for the Feminist Library Bookshop. It is located at 5 Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7XW. For more information on the library, its work and wide range of events please visit its website, follow us on Twitter or on Facebook.
Originally from the Morning Star