Our collection

Library books 1Our non-fiction collection consists of about 5,000 books dating from 1900 to the present day. The collection is very strong in the areas of the arts, politics and the Women’s Liberation Movement, women’s history, and mental and physical health.

We also have about 2,500 works of fiction from all around the world, the majority of which are in English, with some in various European and Latin American languages.

Our poetry collection consists of some 500 publications, and represents a significant number of little-known and/or self-published woman poets, as well as poetry by more well-known and commercially published women.

The general section is supported by a wide-ranging bibliography section and three donations: the Matriarchy Collection, the Marie Stopes/Birth Control Collection, and the recently acquired collection of the Women’s Health Library.

An estimated 1,500 periodicals titles are represented. They date from the late 1960s to the present day and they occupy about 85 metres of library shelving.

Please click here for an A-Z list of periodicals held or here for a list of periodicals by subject. Please note that these lists are not up to date or comprehensive, and we cannot guarantee the availability of any one title.

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Rooms

The Feminist Library collection is housed in three rooms: the periodicals room, fiction and non-fiction.

The periodicals room consists of more than 700 complete and partial sets of journals, newsletters and periodicals from feminist groups and organisations in the UK and from around the world. They are arranged alphabetically on the shelves. In order to aid your search for a specific publication, you can refer to two printed catalogue booklets to carry out your search either by subject or alphabetically.

In the fiction room, novels, poetry, drama, zines and self-published items are arranged alphabetically by author surname in their respective genre sections, and the labels on the shelves will help you to see where each genre is located.

The arrangement of our non-fiction books rests on the use of a unique Classification System devised by feminist librarian Wendy Davis in 1978, and was the first to take issues of concern to women as its central organising principle. This classification scheme is itself a substantial and important piece of feminist scholarship and activism, which has been adopted by other feminist libraries around the world.

If there is anything about the collection you are unsure of, ask one of our library volunteers who will be happy to answer any questions you may have. For more information on the collections, please contact us.

The Feminist Library Pamphlet Collection

In 2009, the Feminist Library Pamphlet Collection was donated to the Bishopsgate Institute, where it is being catalogued and cared for in a temperature-controlled environment.

“From lack of public toilets in London to female genital mutilation in Africa, the Feminist Library Pamphlet Collection offers, some times shocking, insights to women’s lives across the world. The collection also gives an exciting and comprehensive view of the women’s liberation movement.”

The Bishopsgate Institute, close to Liverpool St station, is open to the general public and is well worth a visit. For more information on the pamphlet collection and to search the catalogue, visit Bishopsgate’s website.