Originally known as the Women’s Research and Resources Centre, the Feminist Library was founded in 1975 during the height of the second wave of the Women’s Liberation Movement, a period when many women became actively involved in the struggle against sexist oppression and exploitation, and it was very much part of this process of feminist self-organisation and resistance.
The Feminist Library has had a succession of ever larger homes, including above Sisterwrite Bookshop in Upper Street, next to Spare Rib in Clerkenwell Close, and above A Woman’s Place on the Embankment, before moving to its present home in Southwark after the GLC was abolished in 1986. In common with most underfunded feminist enterprises, the Library has faced a variety of crises and uncertainties over the years, and has not been able to afford paid workers for most of its life. However, a small group of dedicated volunteers has kept it going, adding to its collection, publishing a newsletter, running the Library, and organising events. The Awards for All grant in 2010, which enabled the Librarians for Tomorrow training programme, was another sign of the future health of the Library.
The Feminist Library has been sustained for 43 years by the goodwill, passion and commitment of many individual women, and can be seen perhaps as a microcosm of the Women’s Liberation Movement: still here, still struggling, and with no intention of going away.
43 years, five small rooms, innumerable lives touched, enriched, forever changed. The passion and commitment reflected in the collection is palpable, awe-inspiring and easily matched by the history of the Feminist Library herself.
You can hear one member of the collective talking about the Feminist Library, its history and collection here.
Our Dragon Logo
The Dragon is a symbol associated with the Great Mother Goddess (via the snake) and hence represents the female principle and matriarchy. St George is usually seen plunging his sword into her, which is a visual metaphor for the triumph and hegemony of patriarchal principles over the matriarchy. Originally designed as a card to cheer up the locked-out sisters of the Feminist Library, the message was that the dragon couldn’t be arsed to enact her part again this St George’s Day, because she was curled up at the Feminist Library with a book.