The Feminist Library is a hidden gem in the middle of London. 43 years of collecting, making and safeguarding herstories, and counting. And yet it’s still very much hidden from sight and minds.
When most people visit the Library for the first time, they tend to have the same reaction: ‘Why didn’t I know about this space before?’ Why is that, you might ask? It might be the fact that the Library is barely visible from the street. Unless you’re on the top of a double-decker bus, crossing St George’s Circus, between Elephant & Castle and Waterloo, you are not likely to spot it if you’re walking down Westminster Bridge Road. It might also be the fact that, somewhat ironically perhaps, with the advent of social media, physical feminist spaces are harder to find. It could be many factors.
But one reason that comes to mind vividly at this crucial junction for the Feminist Library, is the persistent lack of funding affecting feminist organisations, as well as libraries and the cultural sector more widely. The Feminist Library is currently crowdfunding for its move to a new, more suitable home. This news comes after a long struggle against eviction and unsustainable rent increases that the Library has faced over the years (you can read more about the Save the Feminist Library campaign here). So the news of the move to a new, more fit-for-purpose home comes as quite a relief, but the Library is still facing a massive fundraising effort before it can make the move happen. You can support its crowdfunding campaign here.
The Feminist Library is as important now as ever. There have been many powerful waves of the feminist movement which at the time may have felt unstoppable, yet our herstories and the work that it takes to safeguard them remains in peril. 2018 has marked a hundred years of (some) women getting the vote, and there has been some funding available for events to celebrate this, but at the same time, no effort has been put into ensuring that the output of these events will be saved for future generations, nor has there been any acknowledgement that between 1918 and the feminist movement of today there was 20 years of an extremely successful and broad-based Women’s Liberation Movement (and of course, the founding of the Feminist Library was part of this).
How much funding will be available to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the first Women’s Liberation groups in Britain in 1969? Whether there is funding or not, the Feminist Library will be undertaking various activities to celebrate and support this important anniversary.
And that’s why the Feminist Library is so important and precious to the feminist movement, to women and to history – it is a home of feminist stories, many of them rare, hard to find elsewhere, and not available online. It is also much more than just a custodian – it protects, as well as co-creating those herstories, as it remains a living, breathing part of the movement to this day, as it provides a well-used space for feminists not just to do research, but also to meet, talk and organise.
The Library has survived its 43 years with next to no external funding, mostly thanks to the support of kind individual donors and volunteers. So if you want to see it surviving for the next 43 years, help us now.
Interested in supporting this amazing and precious resource?
The Feminist Library is crowdfunding for a new home! Find out more about the campaign and donate here.
Better still, sign up here to be a Friend of the Feminist Library and help it become fully sustainable. It doesn’t take much, just a couple of pounds a month really does make a difference.
We’re always on a look out for new volunteers. There’s no such thing as a woman without skills! Contact our volunteers coordinator, Katie, firstname.lastname@example.org
For general enquiries, contact our administrator, Rose, email@example.com.