Volunteering at the Feminist Library

By volunteer Lorna Harrington
As well as being involved with the UCA archives I also volunteer at the Feminist Library in London, so what better way to finish women’s history month than to explore the resource in further depth.
The library houses over 7,000 books including fiction, non-fiction and poetry and 1,500 periodicals. What makes it so special, is its unique classification system which reflects the feminist ethos of the library, with its’ non-hierarchical categorisation.
I first discovered the library as a student at UCA while researching feminism as part of my dissertation focusing on fashion and its relationship with women. I never actually had the time to visit, but now as a volunteer I am finally able to spend some time getting to know the collection.
In terms of acquisitions of interest to art and design students, the periodicals room has a total of twenty four art journals including Feminist Art News, Women’s Art Journal and Make. It also contains copies of Spare Rib, the women’s liberation magazine which ran from 1972 to 1993 which has since been digitalised and is now available online through the British Library website.
Zines are also a key part of its collection with publications covering themes such as race, sexuality and gender. A zine or fan zine is a self-published piece of work about a specific topic often those that are not usually covered by the main stream media.
For designers, it is interesting to see the various unique styles of zines and gain inspiration for layouts and graphic presentation. In an increasingly digital world, zines still reflect their analogue routes through their use of collage, photocopying and hand written text.
They also holds many events during the year related to the arts be it zine festivals, art exhibitions or feminist film screenings. As well as this they attend events such as Feminism in London and Women of the World at the Southbank Centre.

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