Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Letter from Senate House UNISON re Women's Library

Dear Professor Gillies

I wish to express my deep concern about the decision to divest custodianship of The Women's Library. There should be no reason to have to remind you what a tremendously important centre for research and community activism this Library is, with the largest collection of materials relating to women and the women's movement in Britain including UNESCO recognised documents on women's struggle for the right to vote.

It shocks me that the University would even contemplate the possibility of reducing openings hours to one day a week, should the Library fail to find a new home. Not only would this undo all the work of the last ten years in opening up access and widening community-use of the Library, it would also have a disastrous effect  on future research and the disciplines of women's history and gender studies.

It is also very worrying that a widening-participation University such as London Met should not value the vibrant research culture that The Women's Library provides. Surely London Met students deserve access to this aspect of knowledge and learning as much as students at 'elite' institutions. I ask that London Met seriously consider its responsibility as custodian of world-class collections.

Not only must these collections remain together, but the Library must also retain its own building to ensure the continued visibility of women's history and heritage. Also crucial is the expertise of hard-working and longstanding staff with an extensive knowledge of the collections.

I have been pleased to see the coverage in The Guardian, Diva Magazine, History Workshop Journal, Private Eye, and the Museums Journal, as well as on the websites of numerous women's organisations and archives. Also to note that over 6,000 people have signed the petition against the proposed sell-off.

A number of commentators have suggested that, given the financial difficulties make it impossible for you to provide the necessary protection of The Women's Library collections, then the Ministers of Culture and Education need to step in to ensure that the Library is adequately provided for. I would be very interested to hear your views on the number of points raised in this letter.

Yours sincerely

Alice Griffin and Josephine Grahl Unison Senate House Branch

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