A library of our ownThe potential for a women's library in Wales

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Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

Original languageEnglish
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Award date24 Apr 2006
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Abstract

Though there are approximately 400 women’s libraries or information centres internationally they are not generally the focus of research within either library studies or feminist research.
This thesis addressed this gap in relation to women’s libraries in the British Isles, focusing particularly on Wales where there is currently no physical women’s library. The research analysed the nature of current women’s libraries; examined their place within librarianship and feminist research and investigated whether there is potential for a women’s library in Wales.
Interviews were held with staff at nine women’s libraries or archive projects: Archif Menywod Cymru/Women’s Archive of Wales, Feminist Archive (South), Feminist Library, Glasgow Women’s Library, Swansea Multicultural Women’s Resource and Training Centre, Women’s History Project, Women in Jazz, Women’s Library, and the Women’s Resource Centre.
The findings reveal three models of women’s libraries: research-orientated institutions; community-based women’s resource centres and online databases of material pertaining to women. A fourth model is developing in Wales: that of distributed donations of material in local record offices.
On the positive side, all the physical women’s libraries have extensive and important collections, and they provide spaces for women’s learning. Conversely, they are constrained by limited financial and human resources. They are not closely engaged with librarianship or with feminism; and librarianship and feminist research do not appear to be closely linked to them.
Given the resource implications of creating and maintaining a physical women’s library in Wales, possible future developments include a mapping exercise of women’s archives in Wales; raising awareness of the value of women’s archives; and developing the work of Swansea Women’s Centre to meet contemporary information needs of women.
Whilst these organisations contribute to the field of librarianship and archives there does not appear to be the potential to create a physical women’s library in Wales along traditional lines.

Keywords

  • libraries, women's libraries, Wales