Feminist Library to open in Peckham after £35k crowdfunder success

Feminist Library to open in Peckham after £35k crowdfunder success

The Feminist Library staff have revealed the “massive relief” of raising £35,000 for its move to Peckham, with a call for volunteers to help sort the collection ahead of the new centre’s provisional opening date of 14th March.

The volunteer-run archive launched a crowdfunding campaign in October to raise £30,000, for its relocation to a community centre in Peckham, south London, from its Westminster home of 30 years. The campaign was so successful it was extended by another £5,000 and is still open for donations to cover the costs of the move, with the library also calling for members of the public to help prepare the collection for the move later this month.

The volunteer-run archive has been forced to up sticks from its building on Westminster Bridge Road where it has been housed for three decades due to a redevelopment of the site, to Sojourner Truth Community Centre in Peckham. 

The Library’s fundraising coordinator Magda Oldziejewska told The Bookseller: "We were very excited to have reached and exceeded our target. In fact, we had a little celebration at the Library when we hit our target, as it just happened to be during our regular team meeting. It meant that the Library can definitely be moved, with all the basic costs of the move covered by the crowdfunding campaign.

"It was a massive relief for us to know that we have been able to raise the money required to cover all the essential costs of the move before the holidays, meaning that we could start planning the next stage of the move project to begin first thing in January. Our crowdfunding campaign will run until 14th February and we are hoping to have reached our total target for the move project by then. At this stage we're still some £12,000 away from that.” 

The associated costs of moving include fitting out the new space, moving the thousands of books, and the legal costs of moving a library with member rewards including afternoon tea in the new library and a personalised shelf space.

Oldziejewska said the Library is also calling for volunteers to help sort the collections throughout January, in preparation for the move.

“We have estimated that there are some 4,000 items - books, periodicals and archives - that still need to be added to the collection, and we hope to be able to do that before our move,” she said. “We realise that that's a tall order, but we have dozens of volunteers who have already come forward saying they will be helping out, and want to encourage new volunteers to sign up.”

The organisation will hold its AGM in March, with the exact date to be confirmed, and Oldziejewska said it will feature “an opportunity to update our supporters on this very exciting time at the Library and talk about our plans for the future” as well as covering the annual report and other activities. We're currently in process of developing a programme for the new Feminist Library in Peckham and we would like to encourage community involvement in the process, especially from local residents."

When asked about the importance of the library in the context of budget constraints, she said: “It is important because of its rich historical resources. It's a unique and extensive collection tracing the feminist movement as it developed over the last four to five decades. It is also particularly important at this point in history, as it serves not just as a repository, but also as a community space for women, feminists, activists and community groups alike. At a time when austerity has affected many non-profit organisations and spaces, particularly in London, are at a premium, the Feminist Library offers a space where groups can meet and organise at an affordable rate.”

Oldziejewska added the organisation’s mission “of saving feminist history remains very much an ongoing process - we continue to take donations of books, periodicals and collect ephemera of the feminist movement as it happens”.

“Taking these donations is particularly crucial at this time in history, when a lot of second wave feminists are downsizing or passing away, and the Feminist Library provides a safe space for them to place their collections, ensuring that future generations of feminists can have access to it."

She added: “We're hoping to be able to open in the new space by the 14th March - the date will signify the 44th birthday of the Feminist Library and we would like to be able to celebrate it in the new space. The date it yet to be confirmed at this stage, however, as we have a lot of preparation and work to do in the meantime. In the intervening period, we're going to continue running some events at the Library and hoping to be able to set up some special events in the new space to invite the local community to participate in the creation of the new space and programme with dates to be confirmed soon.”

To volunteer, email volunteer@feministlibrary.co.uk or to support the Crowdfunder visit this website or become a Friend to donate to the general running costs.