Dont let the Women’s Library become History

LSE are portraying themselves as heroes in this situation, rescuing the unique WL collections from becoming landfill….  They do not seem, or probably do not want, to understand that having the materials in an academic library (however world renowned) is NOT the same as having the materials in their own purposed designed Women’s building.

The Save the Women’s Library campaign is  becoming increasingly gloomy but still fighting on for the present – if we could bring in a lot of new feminists and other supporters that would give new energy and impetus to the campaign and perhaps steer LSE towards a re-think.

SaveTWL is asking everyone to write to LSE. This is the message that is being put out:-


Many of you will no doubt have thought it was time to relax having read the media coverage of The Women’s Library’s ‘rescue’ by London School of Economics. Unfortunately, what such reports have ignored is that The Women’s Library as we know it (in its purpose-built reading-room and exhibition space in London’s East End) will close in May 2013. The collections will move to the fourth floor of LSE’s academic  library, raising serious questions about access and the shameful  loss of a Heritage Lottery Funded building specially designed only ten years ago.

We have no doubt that the LSE will look after the collections, but a Library is about more than pieces of paper. The Women’s Library is a living library – made up of not only of books and archives but also the community it is part of. At the moment the library is rooted in a multi-cultural and largely working-class residential and commercial neighbourhood, and is engaged in projects with local schools, community and older people’s groups, and artists. All this work to widen access to TWL’s world-renowned collections will end if the Library is moved from its home. Donor’s to TWL, many of whom gave their papers to the library because of its commitment to accessibility and community, have at no point been consulted about its proposed closure.

The Campaign to Save The Women’s Library believes that it is still possible to keep the building open.

The campaign is asking all supporters and stakeholders (academics, students, readers, feminists and activists)  to write urgently to the Director of LSE Prof. Craig Calhoun, , asking that LSE keep the building open and care for the collections in their purpose-built home. We are also asking LSE  to meet with the campaign to consider all available options and would appreciate your support in emphasising this request. You might also consider copying in the Vice-Chancellor of London Metropolitan University, Malcolm Gillies,

The SaveTWL campaign meets every Monday evening at 6pm at Freedom Bookshop, Angel Alley, Whitechapel High Street.  It is open to everyone so do come along.



LSE DIRECTOR is Craig Calhoun email  or write to LSE,Houghton St, London WC2A 2AE (please cc your letters to

LSE GOVERNORS are listed below.

(You might consider copying in Malcolm Gillies  Vice –Chancellor of London Metropolitan University



  • KEY ASK – please meet with interested parties to discuss how to keep the books in the building
  • The Women’s Library was only opened in 2002 and we are angry / sad / concerned to learn that the Women’s Movement is about to lose this precious resource
  • We understand that Tower Hamlets Council gifted the site and Heritage Lottery Fund gave a grant of £4.2mn so that the unique collections could be kept in perpetuity in Old Castle St
  • The Women’s Library is unusual in that it was designed by a woman architect, Clare Wright, specifically to house the collections. The building and the books belong together.
  • The Women’s Library is so much more than a place to keep all the wonderful books and archives. It is a place where women can meet, schools can do projects, academics can network and the local community can learn about their history.
  • The Women’s Library has meeting rooms, exhibition spaces and had a cafe. It is a place for the women’s movement; LSE can never fulfil that function.
  • We are sure that LSE will care properly for the precious books and materials, but a Library is so much more than a collection. This is a living library which is part of a fascinating area.
  • LSE’s bid document speaks of Old Castle St as being “remote”. Remote from where exactly? It is very close to where much of suffragette and other struggles took place and local users probably consider LSE to be “remote”.
  • We fear that once the collection is taken away and placed in LSE that the Women’s Library will lose status and significance.
  • We fear that once the collections are at LSE access for those who are not academics will actually be or will be perceived to be much more problematic.
  • We are concerned that once the collections are at LSE, the staff who are TUPEd over will be “re-organised” in the near future
  • We fear that LSE will dispose of duplicates and otherwise impair the integrity of the collections over time.
  • Many women and organisations who donated materials to the Women’s Library would never have donated them to LSE.
  • We have heard that the Women’s Library Council has not been involved in any of the discussions on this issue.
  • We have heard that a number of other institutions, some of whom were apparently willing to take the building, withdrew from the bidding process for various reasons including “moving of goalposts”.
  • We cannot understand why LSE and London Met are being so precipitate, when so many have asked to be given time to come up with alternatives.
  • plus – your own / organisation’s specific concerns

Demonstration organised by LMU Unison trying to save the Women’s Library


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s