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Jane Austen News – Issue 148

The Jane Austen News is that James McAvoy came to visit!

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Feminist Library Saved from Closure

London’s Feminist Library has been saved from closure thanks to its supporters raising £35,000 towards its survival. Redevelopment plans had threatened it, but an influx of donations from hundreds of people mean that the volunteer-run archive in London can afford to move to new premises. The library was founded in 1975 during the second wave of the women’s liberation movement.

It’s archive brings together an extensive collection of feminist literature and “herstories” and is one of only three such facilities in the UK, but the building the library is housed in is now set to be redeveloped, meaning that the library needs to leave by spring this year.

An alternative space in Peckham was found by Southwark council, but the library needed to raise at least £30,000 to fund the move. Nearly 800 supporters helped to raise the funds to do this. However, library staff are still looking for a further £12,000. to cover additional costs which includes archival storage, blackout curtains and painting and decorating. Staff are also looking for volunteers to help sort through a backlog of 4,000 uncatalogued book donations ahead of the move.

[The library is] important today more than ever because it has one of the most unique collections of feminist materials … It is also one of the very few spaces on a mission to save feminist herstories. Over the last couple of years, [it] has saved thousands of items – books, periodicals and archives – in donations from individuals and organisations, including some who were having real difficulties finding a willing repository for their collections, which might have otherwise been lost to future generations of feminists.

Magda Oldziejewska, fundraising coordinator

At the Jane Austen News, we love stories of libraries being saved, and this is one story of a library being saved that we think Jane would have loved since it’s a story of women’s writing winning against the odds.

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