Source : The Guardian
Redevelopment plans had threatened its future, but donations mean the volunteer-run archive in London can afford to move to new premises
Hundreds of supporters have come together to raise thousands of pounds to save London’s Feminist Library from closure, and help move the collection to new premises.
Founded in 1975 during the second wave of the women’s liberation movement, the archive brings together an extensive collection of feminist literature and “herstories” and is one of only three such facilities in the UK. In 2016 the library, which is a volunteer-run charity, was threatened with eviction from the building in Southwark where it has been housed for three decades, when the council announced it would begin charging rent – increasing its costs from a £12,000 annual service charge to £30,000 a year.
A petition signed by 16,000 people and a “read-in” protest from the public led to a reprieve, but the building is now due for redevelopment, with the library needing to leave the premises in spring 2019.
While an alternative space in Peckham was found by Southwark council, the library needed to raise at least £30,000 to finance the move. Almost 800 supporters have now helped it to raise the funds, with library staff now looking for a further £12,000.
Fundraising coordinator Magda Oldziejewska said the extra £12,000 would cover additional costs, including archival storage, blackout curtains and painting and decorating. Staff are also looking for volunteers to help sort through a backlog of 4,000 uncatalogued book donations ahead of the move.
Oldziejewska said the library was “important today more than ever because it has one of the most unique collections of feminist materials … It is also one of the very few spaces on a mission to save feminist herstories. Over the last couple of years, [it] has saved thousands of items – books, periodicals and archives – in donations from individuals and organisations, including some who were having real difficulties finding a willing repository for their collections, which might have otherwise been lost to future generations of feminists,” she said. “We are hoping to be able to work with many local groups in Peckham after our relocation and are looking forward to our move and getting to know our local community.”
In 2012, the Women’s Library, an archive of women’s history founded in 1926, was threatened with closure, but was saved when the London School of Economics stepped in to house it.