Save the Women’s Library: the fight continues!


Yesterday over activists and workers protested outside the London Met Board of Governors meeting as they met to decide the fate of The Women’s Library. After presenting an open letter and 12,000 signature strong petition asking for more time for the process, the Save the Women’s Library campaigners vow to fight on following the announcement that The Women’s Library will leave its purpose-built home in the East End of London.

The Library’s current home opened just ten years ago, with £4.2m funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and contributions from other supporters. Part of the regeneration of Tower Hamlets, the library encompasses purpose-designed collections storage, education and exhibition space, and light and airy reading room facilities – serving as a community space.

A statement from the campaign said:

“Moving the collection out of its purpose built premises on Old Castle Street will limit and reduce access to this powerful collection.

“The closure of this building would be a step back for women’s equality, as well as an enormous waste.

The campaign remains committed to its 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

“We remain confident that a viable alternative to closing the building can still be found. We intend to pursue the full range of available options and to work with all supporters to ensure that The Women’s Library stays where it is, open and accessible to all.

The campaign is clear that this isn’t about being anti-LSE, saying “As the LSE runs respected archive and library services, we’d be delighted if they wanted to be part of this solution”. LSE libraries may be centrally located and open long hours, but it’s hard to see how many community groups and working-class women who currently use the collection and Women’s Library spaces would feel able or confident to access an elite Russell Group university. As the campaign said:

“Access is more than opening times, and we find it hard to see how current plans will accommodate the vibrant exhibitions, education and events programmes that have opened up this collection to the wider public over the past decade.

Rushanara Ali, Bethnal Green and Bow MP, said,

“The Women’s Library provides a crucial hub for local women, researchers and students, contributing to the East End’s vibrant intellectual and cultural life. London Metropolitan University and the Government need to make every effort to keep The Women’s Library open.”

Women’s Fightback spoke to a worker on the demo yesterday in London Met’s arts and humanities library who said that they’re rallying behind the workers in The Women’s Library but are feeling demoralised and worried as well, as bit by bit the university faces cuts and selling off of its assets. The Save The Women’s Library campaign was initiated by London Met UNISON and is led by its members at the library in collaboration with the library community. It’s a brilliant example of how workers and campaigners can work together to fight back.
More information and further details are available on the Save the Women’s Library blog or get in touch, Max Watson (Unison branch chair) 07949039187, Dr Laura Schwartz, 07890209479
Follow the campaign on Twitter: @saveTWL, #savetwl

About esthertownsend

Socialist feminist

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