Women’s heritage endangered
Women’s heritage endangered – please sign and share the petition to keep the Women's Library open
The Women's Library existing since the early 1920’s to document and explore the past, present and future lives of women, housing the most extensive resource on women's history in Europe, faces foreclose threat, transfer of its collections and reduction to an operational skeleton service if new sponsorship is not identified.
Considered to be Britain's main library and museum resource on women and the women's movement and a special collection of London Metropolitan University, it contains four centuries of “rich narratives on women’s lives” which helps keep alive the history of women’s march towards equality.
Although located in London UK, and mostly exhibiting material on Britain’s women movement, the library collections, some of which date back to the sixteenth century, are of international significance and growing repository on a subject area that needs to be taught and understood because of its breadth and depth coverage on various aspects of women’s record including liberation, employment, education, sexuality and motherhood amongst other topics. The library holds an important place in the feministic landscape, interweaving the narratives of women past and present in a way that is integral to our understanding of our heritage and ongoing struggles. This makes it all the more important that it should be kept open as a resource for the people whose lives and struggle it celebrates.
The printed collections at the Women's Library contain over 60,000 books and pamphlets, over 3,500 periodical titles (series of magazines and journals), and over 500 zines. In addition to scholarly works on women's history, there are biographies, popular works, government publications, and some works of literature. There are also extensive press cutting collections. The Library's museum collection holds over 5,000 objects including over 100 suffrage and modern campaigning banners as well as over 500 personal and organizational archives.
A vast number of intellectual and feminist pioneers were known to be members of its early literary league. Virgina Woolf wrote about the Library stating: "I think it is almost the only satisfactory deposit for stray guineas".
The building itself, recipient of an award from the Royal Institute of British Architects, extends it’s archival role to encompass a museum and cultural centre, a reading room free to use and open to everyone, male and female, an exhibition hall, foyer space, lecture theatre, activity spaces, environmental monitored vaults for the storage of special collections and several education spaces.
Since 2002, the Women's Library has hosted a changing programme of exhibitions in its museum space; topics have included women's suffrage, beauty queens, office work, 1980s politics, women's liberation, women's work, and women's domestic crafts. Its exhibition and education programme on prostitution was listed for international prizes. It has held public talks, shown films, run reading groups and short courses, offered guided tours, and worked with schools and community groups.
The Women’s Library is an investment in women’s unwritten histories and one of the most paradoxically influential and yet unresourced establishment of the 20th century, where early feminism renaissance is displayed alongside other obscure publications for individual and institutional connections. Like previous women of our type and time we should hope that our “bits and pieces” find documentation and by way worthiness in such establishments.
Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market; “but ever in the moonlight, she pined and pined away; sought them by night and day, found them no more, but dwindled and grew gray; then fell with the first snow, while to this day no grass will grow, where she lies low: I planted daisies there a year ago, that never blow”, is just an example that illustrates how the foreclose of the Women’s Library and the squander of its valuable publications will be an untimely end to an ongoing struggle to acknowledge historical authentications of women’s lives which have brought us this far in our struggle for equality, emancipation and recognition. Meanwhile the literary set backs are grave, for I can not imagine a life where my off-seed are not influenced by women’s written accounts in matter of the heart and otherwise.
To find out more about the campaign to save the Women's Library, visit
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