The history of the Feminist Library, from 1975 to 2018.
Over the decades the Feminist Library has amassed a huge collection of over 7,000 books, 1,500 periodical titles from around the globe, and more than 3000 pamphlets, as well as several thousand items of ephemera - including posters, flyers, badges and tote bags, among other items - which document the story of the women's movement, from the second wave through to the present day - and still counting.
It is run by a collective of volunteers, and relies on donations from our supporters to keep going.
The following selection highlights some posters and flyers recording the Feminist Library's own history, since it started as one small shelf of books in a basement room in Euston.
From its first home at the Richardson Institute in North Gower Street, the Feminist Library moved to being above Sisterwrite Bookshop in Islington.
As it rapidly grew, the library moved to Clerkenwell, in a space next door to Women's Liberation magazine Spare Rib.
It then moved to a building owned by the Greater London Council (GLC) on the Embankment, above A Woman’s Place - the central London information centre of the Women's Liberation Movement.
The Feminist Library has faced many threats to its survival over the years, but many hundreds of dedicated volunteers have kept it going – an especially difficult task during the years when there was little feminist activism to support it.
Sadly, many of our sister organisations have been lost along the way.
The Black Lesbian and Gay Centre opened in the early 1980s, providing a safe space for London's black lesbian and gay community, and tackling the combined prejudices of homophobia, racism, and sexism.
It received funding from the Greater London Council (GLC) from 1985 until the GLC's abolition in 1986, after which it depended on donations and membership to stay open. It sadly closed during the 1990s.
The Fawcett Library was established in 1926 by the Fawcett Society, who gave it to City Polytechnic (now part of London Metropolitan University) in 1977.
After some years, money was raised for the Library to move into its own purpose-built building (designed by a woman architect), and its name was changed to The Women’s Library.
In 2012, despite a vigorous campaign to save it, it was forced out after London Met cut its funding, and is now housed within the LSE library.
Lambeth Women's Project was an umbrella organisation providing grassroots, community support to women and their families in South London from 1977 until 2012.
More than 150 women each month used the women-only space, accessing services including counselling, domestic violence support, art and music workshops, health services, BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) groups and mentoring.
It was evicted from its home at 166a Stockwell Road in November 2012, following several months of campaigning to save the project.
Many Irish women have emigrated to London over the years.
The London Irish Women's Centre was founded in 1982 as a safe space for Irish women to organise discussions, cultural activities and campaigns on the issues affecting them.
It was closed in March 2012 following an unsuccessful campaign to keep its premises.
That same year we organised a day of workshops and discussion to celebrate the 30 th anniversary of the iconic Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp.
From 1981-2000, women established permanent camps beside each of the military base’s gates to protest against the siting of American cruise missiles at RAF Greenham Common.
During the prolonged blockade, thousands of women protested and many were arrested. In April 1983, around 70,000 women joined hands to form a 14 mile human chain during the ‘Embrace the Base’ protest.
In 2012 we organised the first of our ever-popular zine making workshops. Zines, hand-made mini magazines, like Riot Grrrl, published by Bikini Kill's lead singer Kathleen Hanna (pictured here) became popular during the 1990s because, in Kathleen's own words, 'Us girls crave records and books and fanzines that speak to US, that WE feel included in, and can understand in our own ways.'
Women’s Studies Without Walls (WSWW) is an initiative of the Feminist Library whose mission has been to return Women's Studies to its rightful place - informing and encouraging women to take radical feminist action through learning and sharing skills and information.
It launched in January 2013 with a weekend gathering on the theme of ‘The Personal is Political’, and WSWW has run a number of short courses and events since then.
The next WSWW course is planned for autumn 2018.
Our graphic arts events have brought together established women artists, discussing their work with newcomers who are getting creative.
As well as exhibitions on the day, the Feminist Library has produced two zines of women’s graphic work based around the themes of the day: ‘I call myself a feminist because…’ and ‘A Feminist’s Place Is…‘