Don’t close the doors on the Women’s Library!


Campaigners fighting to save The Women’s Library met again this week – we need to get more organised as time is marching on. This Thursday 13 September the selection committee will meet to decide the fate of the collection (this will be ratified by the London Met Board of Governors on 27 September).

From the outside the campaign has had 3 key demands:

1) Keep the library in its historic and purposive built home in East London

2) The collection stays intact and accessible to all

3) The library must retain  its expert workers

Friends of The Women’s Library fought for decades for The Women’s Library to have its own building, believing that this world-famous collection on women ought to be visible rather than buried away in a dusty basement where it previously resided for many years. The Women’s Library is not just an archive but also does a huge amount of excellent community outreach projects, acting as a hub for local people, school students and anyone interested in issues facing women today.

The London School of Economics (LSE) is now the only bidder as many others have been pushed to withdraw after London Met management moved the goalposts. Dr Laura Schwartz, Assistant Professor of Modern British History at the University of Warwick – the only bidder to plan to keep the collection in its current purpose built building funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund – said:

“one of the contributing factors (not the only one) as to why [Warwick] pulled out of the bidding process as the only bidder willing to keep the building open, was because London Met suddenly stopped talking about ‘transfer’ of the building and started asking for ‘rent’. The goal posts appear to have changed during the bidding process.”

The details of the bid are “confidential” but recent developments at LSE indicate they would move the library, especially as there is no obligation to maintain its current location. This effectively closes the Women’s Library and can only have knock on effects for accessibility. It would in particular limit the outreach work and exhibitions which currently take place regularly at The Women’s Library.

The Save the Women’s Library Campaign is calling for the bidding process to be re-opened:

  • We feel more institutions and organisations will be able to submit serious bids that retain the collection and staff in the Women’s Library Building if they are afforded appropriate time and have access to all relevant information.
  • No staff member or staff representative has been allowed to be involved in the selection committee that is overseeing the selection of bids. Nor have users of TWL been consulted at any point.
  • The selection criteria for a new bid process must ensure that the collection and staff are able to stay in the Women’s Library Building

We would welcome the LSE to resubmit their bid for the library however it is crucial that the collection and staff remain in the Women’s library Building.

Help save The Women’s library by spreading the word and getting active. For more information please visit the Save the Women’s Library blog or get in touch. Check out the important dates below too.

Campaign Timeline

  • 13th September – Decision will be made by a London Met Select committee as to whether they will accept the LSE bid.
  • 17th September – new exhibition opens at Women’s Library “Lets hear it for the boys”
  •  22nd September – Rally and handing in of the petition with 12,000 signatories 4-5pm
  •  27th September – Board of Governors Meeting – scheduled to ratify the selection committee decision
  •  17th October – new exhibition opens at Women’s Library “The Long March to Equality – Treasures of the Women’s Library

About esthertownsend

Socialist feminist

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