The Independent London Newspaper

Women’s library campaigners pledge to fight on despite London School of Economics deal

Library campaigners. Picture: Martin LeSanto-Smith

Above and below: Women’s Library campaigners. Pictures: Martin LeSanto-Smith

Library campaigners. Picture: Martin LeSanto-Smith

Published: 5 October, 2012
by ANDREW JOHNSON

CAMPAIGNERS have vowed to continue their fight to keep the world-renowned Women’s Library a part of London Metropolitan University after the beleaguered institution announced on Friday that the library will move to the London School of Economics next year.

London Met has been seeking to offload the library to save money.

But despite a fierce campaign of opposition, including a 12,000-signature petition, the Holloway-based university pressed ahead with its decision to move the library from its purpose-built building in Petticoat Lane. It was opened just 10 years ago with a £4.2m grant from the National Lottery.

Opponents say the library will not be as accessible once it is moved. It was founded in 1926 as the library of the London Society for Women, the successor to the women’s suffrage organisation led by Millicent Fawcett. It has been administered by London Met since 1977.

Included in Unesco’s Memory of the World Register, the library contains more than 60,000 books and pamphlets on women’s history, including magazines and personal papers, as well as museum objects and textiles.

In a statement the Save the Women’s Library 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. The closure of this building would be a step back for women’s equality, as well as an enormous waste.”

The campaign is to continue to fight to prevent the move. London Met said the collections would transfer to the LSE’s Lionel Robbins Building, in Holborn, following a “wonderful collaborative process” over the last six months.

“We will be working with them to achieve the best continuity to ensure library users are not inconvenienced,” the university said.

LSE director Craig Calhoun added: “The LSE library and colleagues across the school will now be able to continue the excellent work that generations have put into building a fascinating record of a truly transformative women’s movement.”

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