The selection panel, set up by Dr Paul Bowler, Deputy Vice Chancellor of London Met, to decide the fate of The Women’s Library, met in the afternoon to decide whether to allow its collection of material to be moved to the LSE. The panel agreed to meet representatives from the campaign before their meeting, but the panel was unwilling to inform them of the outcome of their deliberations before they are ratified at the next London Met Board of Governors meeting on 27th September.If the decision to move the collection to the LSE were allowed to stand, it would mean the effective closure of The Women’s Library, with the loss of the purpose-built building in Old Castle Street, E1, which was opened only ten years ago with the aid of £4 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Addressing the panel on behalf of the Save the Women’s Library Campaign, its members argued that it is imperative that the library remains its current building with its current staff. They lobbied the panel to re-open the bidding process so that LSE and any other interested institutions could resubmit more acceptable proposals, on the grounds that:
- moving the collection to the new LSE site would change it from a living to a dead collection, with a loss of accessibility for its local, national and international community of users
- the bidding process has not been transparent and has been rushed through without proper consultation
- it has recently come to light that London Met has misled stakeholders, Women’s Library staff, readers and donors, by initially claiming that it would be handed over as a package, which would keep the building, collection and staff together. However London Met later refused to include the building as part of the package unless it was leased for prohibitively high rents.
- in general the bidding process appears not to fulfil the university’s legal obligation towards transparency and equal opportunities.
In light of this, the campaign fears that it is left with no alternative but to explore the legal ramifications of London Met’s lack of transparency and consultation with stakeholders, and its failure to uphold its equal opportunity responsibilities.
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PRESS INFO: [email protected]
Sept 22nd Mass Rally to Save The Women’s Library, outside The Women’s Library, 4-5pm: https://www.facebook.com/events/156862467784838/
Sept 27th London Met Board of Governors meeting to ratify decision on bids for TWL takeover
NOTES TO EDITORS
- The Women’s Library, established in 1926, is one of the world’s foremost archival, library, and museum collections related to women’s history. A recent partnership with the Parliamentary Archives saw several of The Women’s Library’s items inscribed into UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register. The library is housed in a purpose-built building in East London and is part of London Metropolitan University. The collection can be consulted in its reading room Tues-Fri 9:30-5:30 and is open to all.
- The Save The Women’s Library campaign was initiated by London Met UNISON and is led by its members at the library in collaboration with the library community. We recognise the worth of The Women’s Library and want to work alongside its supporters to ensure it continues to thrive. We are campaigning to keep the collection intact, retain its expert staff and access to all, and remain in the dedicated building on Old Castle St.