London’s Feminist Library: Preserving Women’s Herstory
Without institutions dedicated to preserving women’s political, academic and literary achievements we run the risk of forgetting the struggles and successes of brave women like the suffragettes highlighted in the opening ceremony of this year’s Olympic Games. Conscious of the uphill battle women face in preserving their history a few feminist academics and activists got together and founded the Feminist Library in a Camden basement in 1975 at the height of the women’s liberation movement. Today the library resides in South East London and boasts an impressive collection of materials relating to feminism, women’s history and women’s fiction and poetry, with the collection on the second wave of feminism of the 1970s and 1980s especially extensive.
Originally conceived as a space where feminist academics, writers and researchers could collaborate, the library continues this tradition acting as a hub for feminist activists and hosts a monthly women’s writing group as well as workshops such as the 2010 training programme in radical librarianship. The library celebrated its thirty-fifth anniversary this last February with several live performances and, in March on International Women’s Day, held a gathering celebrating rebellious women with food and film.
Located only a short walk from North Lambeth tube station, the library is housed in four cosy rooms, a friendly environment for activists, archivists and researchers. Since the library is run entirely by volunteers, there is always a need for people willing to donate their time and skills especially to develop the online catalogue, order and renew publications, contribute to the newsletter, fundraise, assist with administrative duties and connect with other feminist organisations. This is an excellent opportunity for volunteers both experienced in the field and others who are keen to learn more and meet like-minded people. A resource centre such as this library would be a colossal loss if sufficient volunteers could not be found to build on the critical successes of the past and to help guide new activists in the future.
You can visit the library at 5 Westminster Bridge Road SE1 7XW (map) and it is open every Monday and Tuesday 2-6pm and every Thursday 6.30-9.30. Additionally, it is open on the 1st Saturday of the month 1.30-5pm for the Writers’ Space. Check out their website and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.
Please note that the library will be closed throughout the August holiday period, but interested volunteers should register their details at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the email to obtain further information. For general enquiries, you can contact the library by phone on 0207 261 0879 or by email at email@example.com.