Located on Westminster Bridge Road, The Feminist Library has existed in a state of constant emergency for a number of years now. Recent rent hikes have finally delivered a possible death blow, but the volunteers and members of the management committee are not going down without a fight:
Despite the efforts of a number of dedicated volunteers, and a change in management, the library has not been able to get itself out of the crisis induced in 2003 by a sudden vast increase in its rent. The Feminist Library management committee decided to call an emergency meeting in a last ditch attempt to garner support from the feminist community to stop this valuable collection of many thousands of books, pamphlets and ephemera, collected since 1975, from being lost.
At the well-attended meeting, held on 24 February, a great deal of support was voiced for the library, and it was decided to make one last attempt to save the collection. Seven new volunteers came forward to join the management committee. Taking guidance from the meeting, that the library should retain its autonomy if possible, the reinvigorated management committee will give itself a year to explore the various options and see if it is possible to retain a viable feminist library, either independently, or within another organisation.
Londonist was given a tour of the collection a little while back and it would be a real shame for all this material to be lost forever. Original suffragette pamphlets for example must be nearly irreplaceable as well as documents from the early years of the Women’s Liberation Movement. That’s not to mention entire runs of classic magazines like Spare Rib (pictured) and a whole array of modern literature to boot.
Even with their collective backs up against the (ever increasingly pricey) walls, the women that keep the library alive have been adding to the shelves. For example, they recently rescued stock from the Women’s Health Library that was about to be thrown into a skip. That’s a lot of dedication to let slip away.
The bottom line is that the Library needs help. Volunteers are the life blood, but perhaps even more importantly the collection needs a new home. If you can help in any way at all then please get in touch with them via feministlibraryappeal AT gmail DOT com. Check out the MySpace page for more info.