Books

London’s iconic Feminist Library is under threat. Here’s how you can help

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Moya Crockett
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London’s iconic Feminist Library is facing closure. Here’s how you can help

The feminist institution is being forced to leave its current home due to redevelopment – but it’s not too late to save it. 

The Feminist Library first opened its doors in London more than 40 years ago. Back then, it was known as the Women’s Research and Resource Centre, and served as a hub for second-wave feminists involved in the Women’s Liberation Movement who wanted a space to gather, learn and create.

Over time, the Feminist Library has moved to gradually larger premises across London: in Islington, in Clerkenwell, on the Embankment, and then to Southwark, its current home. Inside the welcomingly cluttered building on Westminster Bridge Road, you’ll find everything from books about female prisoners to Seventies pamphlets about abortion rights and novels by African women authors, as well as a bookshop packed with feminist fiction, non-fiction and zines.

But now, the iconic institution is facing permanent closure. The building in which it currently resides is up for redevelopment, and the Feminist Library will be forced to leave by spring 2019.

The people behind the Feminist Library have now launched a crowdfunding campaign to enable them to move to a new building in south London.

“The Feminist Library is such an important resource, for London, for women, for everyone!” Emma Thatcher, Feminist Library management collective, tells stylist.co.uk.

“Sadly, if we can’t raise the money for a new building, we may have to close and disband our collection after 43 years. If this happens London will lose a valuable community space and unique archive collection.” 

The Feminist Library hopes to relocate to a space in the Sojourner Truth Community Centre in Peckham - fittingly named after the famous African-American activist and abolitionist

In a statement on Crowdfunder, The Feminist Library said moving to Peckham will “enable us to protect and build on our priceless collection and expand our vibrant community events programme”.

As the new space is 50% bigger than the current site in Southwark, the move would also allow the Feminist Library “to showcase feminist art and bring out our amazing collections of posters, flyers, pamphlets, vintage badges and tote bags, among many other wonderful items of ephemera” collected over the past four decades.

A team of feminist architects, designers and makers will be volunteering their time for free to design and build much of the space at the Sojourner Truth Community Centre, but it will still need a significant amount of work to be transformed into a library. 

The Feminist Library is hoping to raise £30,000 for new shelves, flooring, redecorating, and other moving and legal costs. They’re also looking for new volunteers who can help with the move and fundraising.

 “It contains our history: thousands of books and magazines which show how we fought for our rights and how we found our voices, individually and collectively,” says Thatcher.

“It needs to be protected so it can inspire future generations.”

Find out more information and donate to the Feminist Library’s crowdfunding campaign here

Images: Eliott Reyna / Unsplash

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Moya Crockett

Moya is Women’s Editor at stylist.co.uk, where she is currently overseeing the Visible Women campaign. As well as writing about inspiring women and feminism, she also covers subjects including careers, podcasts and politics. Carrying a tiny bottle of hot sauce on her person at all times is one of the many traits she shares with both Beyoncé and Hillary Clinton.

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