Monthly Archives: March 2019

Libraries around the world completely dedicated to women!


Access to information and culture is crucial to all human beings, especially often-marginalised groups such as women and girls. Libraries around the globe empower women, bridge the education gap and improve women’s health, welfare and position in society.

8 March is International Women’s Day – a celebration of womanhood but also a reminder of the importance of recognising women’s rights around the globe!
Libraries are already meeting the information needs of women as contributors of the library field to global development. But some libraries have taken it to the next level!

These 9 libraries stand out by their dedication to women, offering access to feminist literature and celebrating the cultural influence of women throughout the ages. Many, both historically and in the present, have also served as centres where women can learn, engage, and mobilise.

The Glasgow Women’s Library, UK
Glasgow Women’s Library is the only accredited museum in the UK dedicated to women’s lives, stories and achievements, and gives access to both a lending library and archival collections.

The Library works to support women and create a nourishing, safe and supportive environment that not only celebrates the lives and achievements of women, but also provides learning possibilities and activities. The Glasgow Women’s Library has been providing information and services since 1991, and since then more than a thousand women have contributed by volunteering, donating books or by being involved in some of the many activities at the library.

The Feminist Library, Lebanon
In Lebanon, feminist books are mostly found in private bookshelves or in universities, but this library believes that books shouldn’t be restricted to the few. Everybody should have access to reading!

The Feminist Library in Beirut sees books and reading as tools for survival and liberation for women and oppressed individuals, or those who do not feel a sense of belonging to their community.
They offer collections in Arabic, French and English, as well as Knowledge Workshops that promote more access to feminist knowledge as a way to improve women’s rights.

The Free Black Women’s Library, US
The Free Black Women’s Library is a black feminist mobile library with a big collection of books written by black women. It is committed to collecting and celebrating the voices of black women in literature.

This mobile library pops up monthly throughout Brooklyn, New York, but has also found its way to other cities in US such as Detroit, Chicago and Baltimore.

Jessie Street National Women’s Library, Australia
This library is dedicated to preserve Australian women’s work, words and history. It was established in 1989, named after Jessie Street, a recognised advocate for women’s rights, the peace movement and the elimination of discrimination against indigenous people.

The Women’s Library and Information Centre Foundation, Turkey
Founded in 1989 in Istanbul, The Women’s Library and Information Centre Foundation is the first Turkish library with a women-only collection. Its goal is to give access to credible and extensive information about women, which in turn contributes to the preservation of women’s history in Turkey.

The library also offers a wide range of activities, the latest being a one-day symposium on violence against women, followed by several workshops. The workshops have attracted participants from not only the region, but all over the world.

Biblioteca Francesca Bonnemaison, Spain
The library in Barcelona was the first ever women’s library in Europe! It was founded in 1909 as the Instituto de Cultura y Biblioteca Popular para la Mujer (Cultural Institute and Popular Library for Women) by Francesca Bonnemaison. Bonnemaison was a wealthy socialite and well-respected in the cultural and intellectual elite in the early 20th century Barcelona.

In its early days, the library offered women the opportunity to learn scientific, manual and artistic skills that would support their career development. Today, it is home to a reference library of feminist literature.

Bibliothèque Marguerite Durand, France
This Parisian library is the only French library dedicated entirely to women. It was created from one woman’s personal collection, the activist Marguerite Durand, also known for her feminist newspaper La Fronde.

Having already started to donate feminist texts and documents in 1897, she handed over her entire collection to the City of Paris in 1931.

The Women’s Library, UK
The origins of The Women’s Library can be traced back to the Suffragette movement and the 1866 women’s suffrage petition.
It began its life in a converted pub in London and had two goals: to provide a resource for newly enfranchised women to enter public life and to preserve the history of women’s movement.
The Library has eight documents which have been recognised by UNESCO in their Memory of the World Register and more than 1000 rare books.

Biblioteca delle Donne, Italy
Founded in the late 1970s, the Biblioteca delle Donne is Italy’s main library of documents dedicated to women, feminism and gender studies. It was founded on the initiative of an independent feminist organisation, Associazione Orlando, and is co-run with the City of Bologna.

The Library houses a great number of books and manuscripts, including Sofia’s Library, a dedicated collection of literature for young girls.


The 10-Minute Library Advocate #8: Think of a Partner You Can Work With

Think of a Partner You Can Work With

No library is an island!

Your library is an important part of the community you serve. And within that community there should be other people or groups who understand what you do and support you.

This is the case, whether you’re in a public or community library serving a local area, or a library serving the members of an institution such as a university or government department.

One way for them to show their support is by helping you in your advocacy activities. They can echo your messages, let others know why your work is important, or even provide honest feedback that will allow you to improve.

So for our eighth 10-Minute Library Advocate exercise, think of a partner you can work with.

It could be an individual (such as a teacher, professor, local author or journalist), an institution (such as a school, an NGO, or even a government agency) or a group (a club that uses your library, or a research team).

If you can think of more than one, that’s great! Write them down, alongside a few words to describe them and how they can help.

Good luck!

See the introduction and previous posts in our 10-Minute Library Advocate series and join the discussion in social media using the #EveryLibrarianAnAdvocate hashtag!

Canadian Flu? The Doctor will See You Now

Canadian Flu ImageDebates around fair use and fair dealing are often fierce. For some, they mark a step away from old certainties and bring new and unwanted risks. For others, they are a means of reducing the rigidity of strict, code-based legal systems that risk harming libraries’ ability to serve their users.

In the middle of this abstract debate, the case of Canada’s 2012 copyright reforms is frequently cited as a case study. In debates in Australia and South Africa, for example, there are references to ‘Canadian Flu’ – the idea that extending fair dealing to education has been disastrous. Of course it is worth noting that it was arguably a series of decisions by the Canadian Supreme Court that effected the change, and that the government merely confirmed this state of affairs.

Nonetheless, given that this is being presented as evidence in debates around the world, it’s worth a fuller exploration of the symptoms. What is actually going on, and what diagnosis can we make?


Doctor, Doctor! The Symptoms

The most obvious event in the last few years has been the significant fall in the revenues collected by Access Copyright, Canada’s collecting society for reprographic (photocopying) rights. This has, logically, led to a fall in the revenues paid out to authors and publishers through this particular channel.

It is also true that a number of companies have gone out of business, or international companies have reduced their Canadian operations. Nelson, a major Canadian publishing company, declared a form of bankruptcy, and Oxford University Press closed its division providing materials for schools.

At the same time, a proper diagnosis is not possible without looking at everything that is going on. A crucial point is the growth in sales of electronic content, and that these materials appear to be replacing the sorts of course-packs that formed a key part of Access Copyright’s revenues. In the university sector, library spending on publisher content has grown systematically since 2012. The share of digital vs physical has reversed between 2002/3 and 2015/6.

This has impacted the textbook market (including the market for taking copies of textbooks), alongside falling numbers of young people, greater use of individual books, and textbooks themselves lasting longer. Licences offered for whole eBooks are often indeed cheaper than licences for individual chapters.

Meanwhile, Canadian education is doing well, coming close to the top of the table in the OECD’s PISA study, while its publishing industry as a whole is growing at twice the speed of the United States. As for the educational sector, it is the cost of books compared to budgets that is cited as a reason for not using more Canadian content.


On the Couch: a Diagnosis

While the core observations – the reduced revenues of Access Copyright and the closure of some companies – are obviously true, some of the surrounding arguments are more dubious.

The idea that the reform has put companies out of business is undermined by the fact that Oxford University Press’s Annual Report for 2013-14, which notes the closure of its schools division, places the blame on a longer-term decline in the market that is cited as a reason (falls of 50%). Meanwhile, the company celebrates its continued investment in Higher Education and English language programmes. Nelson’s demise seems to be a delayed consequence of taking on too much debt in the years before the financial crisis.

The notion that there have been 600 million pages being copied without payment seems to be based on highly questionable assumptions, with many of the supposed copies actually having been paid for, and the 2005-06 baseline unlikely to be relevant. And as has been highlighted in submissions to the Canadian parliament, the impact of falling revenues from Access Copyright has affected revenues by as little as 1%.

Overall, if the patient is the publishing industry as a whole, it appears to be healthy, although of course there can be claims that it would be healthier still otherwise. Indeed, figures for 2014-16 for example show Canadian-owned publishers increasing sales while foreign-owned ones saw a fall.

But arguably, the most important patient is not the publishing industry, but Canadian education as a whole. Quality publishing does play an important role in this, and certainly schools and universities would be poorer without it. At the same time, it is vital to take account of the interests of students and educators, who have reported that the reforms have allowed them to teach – and learn – much more simply.



As highlighted at the beginning, the move to fair dealing for education in Canada, both through the actions of the Canadian Supreme Court and the government, has arguably had a very concentrated impact on one player – Access Copyright. This has had knock-on effects on publishers who, nonetheless, seem in many cases to have benefited from growing revenues from other sources.

Moreover, once a wider perspective is taken, and all symptoms and trends are taken into account – in particular the impact on learning – the Canadian patient is arguably in good health.

The 10-Minute Library Advocate #7: Define A Long-Term Goal for your Library

Define a Long-Term Goal for Your Library

If you want to move forwards, you first need to know where forwards is.

In order to ensure that the time and effort that you put into advocacy for your library is well used, it’s important to have an idea of your long-term goal.

It should provide a guide to your work, and help you think about whether what you are doing is succeeding or not. It can be an excuse to stop doing things when they are not contributing to your goal.

So for our seventh 10-Minute Library Advocate exercise, think of a long-term goal for your advocacy work for your library.

Your choice will of course depend on your context. Given that you’re focusing in this exercise on your own library, it may be about changing regulations that decide what you can or can’t do, about financing, or even about building support for your services within your community.

It should be ambitious (you want to improve on the current situation), but also realistic (you don’t want failure to be inevitable). If it helps, you can use the SMART framework.

Crucially, it should be something you can easily remember and refer to in your work!

Good luck!

See the introduction and previous posts in our 10-Minute Library Advocate series and join the discussion in social media using the #EveryLibrarianAnAdvocate hashtag!