I may not have the money for a world tour of libraries. If I did, a world tour of feminist libraries would be first on my list.
Since I’ve long wanted to visit this small book paradise on Montazah Street, I’d start in Beirut.
The Knowledge Workshop’s Feminist Library (@KW_alwarsha) offers Arabic, French, and English collections. It’s run out of the Antoine Farah Building, 3rd floor, Montazah Street. The fantastic people at the Feminist Library write:
In Lebanon, feminist books are mainly found in private bookshelves at home or in elite universities. We believe that knowledge should not be an inaccessible resource nor an exclusive individual wealth. The Knowledge Workshop works for more equitable redistribution of feminist knowledge as a transformative collective resource.
This library is open to the public. They invite “anyone to come in to read and to borrow from our wide selection of books, including fiction, autobiography, sexuality, women’s labor, spirituality, history and activism. In addition to our books by and about women in West Asia and North Africa, we are deliberate in including a selection of books by women of color, especially queer women of color.”
I recently came across these charming librarians on Twitter (@womenslibrary) as they were made a 2018
#MuseumOfTheYear finalist. They are “the only accredited museum in the UK dedicated to women’s history, with a lending library, public events & learning opportunities.” If in Scotland, surely you must visit.
This volunteer-run Feminist Library (@feministlibrary) on Westminster Bridge Road launched in 1975. It offers an archive of feminist literature and events.
According to organizers, the origins of The Women’s Library trace back to the 1866 women’s suffrage petition. They promise “a cross-domain collection containing printed material, archives and 3D objects. The majority of the material dates from the late 19th century to present day. The focus is mainly UK, but there is some international material.”
According to Işil Baş and Esra Kazanbas, this library “was founded in 1989 in order to collect credible and extensive information about women.” This, they write, “contributes to the preservation of women’s histories in Turkey.”
The Vancouver Women’s Library—located at 1255 Kingsway Street—is a free library and community resource. It’s run for and by women and girls. From their website:
We encourage intergenerational, intercultural, multilingual conversations through our reading room, events, and programming, and believe in continuing the legacy of women-run bookstores, presses and libraries. Our membership has grown to over 400 women and girls in just one year, and our collection has expanded from 80 titles to well over 2000 and counting, in a variety of languages very much in demand.
The United States
From the website:
The Free Black Women’s Library, is an interactive Black Feminist mobile trading library and interactive biblio installation that features a collection of 1000 books written by Black women. The library is committed to centering and celebrating the voices of Black Women in literature. This mobile library pops up monthly in unique and radical spaces throughout Brooklyn, NYC and has also been to Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia and Baltimore. Please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any inquiries or if you would like the library to come to your area.
This library is dedicated to the preservation of “Australian women’s work, words and history. The Library was established in 1989 and is named after Jessie Street, a lifelong campaigner for women’s rights, the peace movement and the elimination of discrimination against Aboriginal people.”