Founded in 1926 as the Fawcett Library, the Women`s Library at London Metropolitan University houses artefacts charting the Women`s Movement from it`s earliest days, with a wealth of material on the Suffragette movement but much more than that, including the archive of the National Women`s Register and, bizarrely, a book of Recipes for Lovers by Barbara Cartland !
Now the LMU is seeking "a new home, owner or sponsor" for the library and in the interim is looking to cut opening hours, allegedly from five days a week to one. The decision has provoked an outcry and a spirited campaign to save the collection is underway, endorsed by Sandi Toksvig and others.
Sadly this interesting campaign obliges me to draw attention to two things I particularly dislike in life, one being The Guardian newspaper and the other being campaigns which feature celebrity endorsements !
It has to be said that the campaign itself assumes it is preaching to the converted and therefore makes little attempt to detail the contents of the collection. Whether I like it or not, the best source I can find for this is Caroline Davies` article Women`s Library Campaign Boosted by Celebrity Support, Monday 30 April 2012 at www.guardian.co.uk.
There are numerous other sources of info online. Here are just a few ;
Alan Gibbons - Importance of Women`s Archive - 5 May 2012 at http://alangibbons.net
Alan Gibbons - Campaign and Petition : The Women`s Library - 6 May 2012 at http://alangibbons.net
National Women`s Register - www.nwr.org.uk .
Unison - www.londonmetunison.org.uk
Save the Women`s Library - http://savethewomenslibrary.blogspot.com
I understand that the LMU is also looking to dispose of the TUC Library but as yet I can find no equivalent campaign in respect of that - all I can suggest there is to use the Unison branch link provided above.
Clearly, the LMU is looking to either dispose of the collection or get some sort of sponsorship to help with the cost of mantaining it. There is no particular reason why it has to be in London as far as I can see. The chief issues here would seem to be preservation of the collection, sensible arrangements for public access and the future of the staff. I must be remembered that the collection`s assets are not only documents and artefacts but also the staff, some of whom have years of experience in dealing with the collection and building up familiarity with the stock.
The future, as they say, is unwritten.