The Women's Library, founded in 1926, is threatened by a drastic
reduction in its opening hours.
The library, part of London Metropolitan University, could face
closure six days a week unless a new home, owner or sponsor can be
found by December. It currently opens five days a week.
The London library holds the oldest and most extensive
collection of women's history in Europe. The venue hosts many
exhibitions and workshops, and its varied events programme included
a sold-out talk by the DIVA team in celebration of our
150th issue four years ago.
The library's unique collection boasts over 60,000 books and a
diverse periodicals resource, including lesbian and bisexual
magazines, zines and newsletters. It has also hosted a popular
series of zine-making sessions led by queer women, which celebrated
our history of grassroots publishing.
A petition launched in opposition to the proposed closure, has
already gathered 5,000 signatures. The petition calls the library
"one of the most magnificent specialist libraries in the world. It
has become something that previously women - and men - could only
have dreamed of. Women have visited from all over, not just
The petition calls on Secretary of State for Education Michael
Gove to make sure that the university's problems are resolved and
that the library does not suffer.
The university is trying to save £1m a year across its two
special collections, the Women's Library and the Trades Union
Congress Library. They hope to transfer the collection to a new
location or to find a new sponsor. However, these changes could
also pose a threat to the library.
The Women's Library was first established as the Library of the
London Society for Women's Service, an off-shoot of the London
women's suffrage organisation. Today it is based in London's
Aldgate and attracts 30,000 individual visits a year. The
collection ranges from scholarly works on women's history and
feminism to press cuttings, pamphlets and literature, including
first editions of works by Mary Wollstonecraft, Virginia Woolf and
Sign the petition to save the library here:
Find out more about the library here: www.londonmet.ac.uk/thewomenslibrary