Save the Women’s Library
WOMEN’S LIBRARY FACING ‘WRECKING BALL’ AS EXHIBITION OPENS
Library needs just “pennies” of War Museum grant
As The Women’s Library opens its last major exhibition in Old Castle Street, its architect has warned that the building could face demolition if plans to move the collection go ahead.
“The Long March to Equality” exhibition promises to mark the Library’s outstanding collections and ten years in its purpose-built home. Opening to the public on 17th October, it was launched at a private view in the East End last night.
But with the future of the specialist £5.5m building uncertain, celebrations were somewhat muted.
Clare Wright MBE, of Wright & Wright architects, who designed The Women’s Library, said:
“It will be difficult to find another use for this building. A lot of the rooms are built to house an archive. They’re sealed and there’s no natural light—good for storing things, but not for people.
“There’s a real possibility that, without its collections, the building could be worth more demolished”.
A spokeswoman for the Save The Women’s Library Campaign said:
“The award-winning Women’s Library building took years to bring about, and is known and admired internationally as a special site celebrating women’s struggles for equality. That this unique monument to equality is facing the wrecking ball seems too awful to contemplate.
“As this new exhibition will show so well, this is an extraordinary place where anyone can walk in off the street and learn about women’s history. And it is closing for lack of funds.
“David Cameron has just announced a £35m grant for an extension of the Imperial War Museum to mark 100 years since the first world war. There is money for heritage and culture in Britain—when the government values it. The Women’s Library needs just pennies in comparison to keep its museum intact.
“2018 will mark a hundred years since women got the vote. With its unrivalled suffrage collections, and proper public facilities, this award-winning building should be at the heart of plans to celebrate Britain’s democracy, not waiting for the bulldozers.
“The Prime Minister needs to step in and find the funds to keep The Women’s Library going as a public visitor attraction. He’s found money for the soldiers—so why not the suffragettes? These stories are central to our history.
“We can’t let the door shut on this amazing place. Once again, we ask for LSE to meet with us and work to find an answer that will keep The Women’s Library where it belongs.”
Notes for editors:
· The Women’s Library, established in 1926, is one of the world’s foremost archival, library and museum collections related to women’s history, and is today part of London Metropolitan University. It is currently housed in a purpose-designed building encompassing collections storage, education and exhibition space, light and airy reading room facilities, and the locally listed façade of an old East End Wash House. The building was funded by private, public and charitable donors including £4.2m from the Heritage Lottery Fund to provide safe housing for the unique collections, open up access to the public, and contribute to the regeneration of Tower Hamlets, and opened just ten years ago, in 2002.
· Closure threat. London Metropolitan University have announced their intention to withdraw financial support for The Women’s Library by 2013. Under current plans, the Library’s dedicated building will close and the collections will become a branded part the library of the London School of Economics in Aldwych, and housed on its fourth floor. The decision follows a series of protests and the presentation of a petition signed by over 12,000 people which asked to keep collections, building and staff of The Women’s Library together.
· The Save The Women’s Library campaign was initiated by London Met UNISON and is led by its members at the library in collaboration with the library community. It recognises the worth of The Women’s Library and wants to work alongside its supporters to ensure it continues to thrive. Save TWL is campaigning to: Keep the collection intact Retain its expert staff *Remain in the dedicated building on Old Castle Street https://go.madmimi.com/redirects/1350471882-33ebc3ee5c788e35e861925495cdc8d5-68007c6?pa=251030730285006544
· Awards for the The Women’s Library’s building. The Women’s Library’s high quality, sustainable design and contribution to the local environment were recognised with an award from the Royal Institute of British Architects. In 2002 It was named RIBA Journal’s Building of the Year, the Brick Award’s Best UK Public Building, and winner of the Liveable City Sustainability Award. A dedicated, high-quality building for The Women’s Library’s collections recognises the importance of the fight for women’s equality to national life. For a detailed description of Claire Wright’s Women’s Library see https://go.madmimi.com/redirects/1350471882-52863cf8f0e7bb19fd6ed9e9b490dae5-68007c6?pa=251030730285006544
· “The Long March to Equality: Treasures of The Women’s Library” opens to the public on October 17 and will be the last exhibition at The Women’s Library under current plans. It features a number of celebrity commentators including Sophie Dahl, Bill Nighy and Sandi Toksvig. For details visit https://go.madmimi.com/redirects/1350471882-084478cd471c1222e593fab4e214f5e5-68007c6?pa=251030730285006544
· David Cameron announced on 11 October that £50m will be spent on commemorating the first world war centenary, including a £35m upgrade to the Imperial War Museum. Under current plans, by the time of the centenary of women’s suffrage in 2018, The Women’s Library’s walk-in exhibition space will be reduced to a share of the use of LSE’s Atrium Gallery, likely to be six weeks each year.
Pictures and More Information:https://go.madmimi.com/redirects/1350471882-342df5b36e0dd7b821f18abec72f1d62-68007c6?pa=251030730285006544
Address for TWL visitors: The Women’s Library, London Metropolitan University, Old Castle
Street, London E1 7NT; nearest tube Aldgate East, Aldgate or Liverpool Street; open Mon to Fri
9.30am-5.30pm, Thurs until 8.00pm
PRESS INFO: firstname.lastname@example.org, Max Watson 07949039187, Dr Laura Schwartz, 07890209479
Follow us on Twitter: @saveTWL, #savetwl