Saturday, 12 July 2008

Site 5: The Women's Library

July 11, 2008

The entrance to the Women's Library is a bit deceiving. The directions printed from their website are very clear, no complaint there, but following them takes some suspension of belief. "So I follow this dodgy corner, down this dark alley... aha!" My paranoia-slash-innate-distrust is very much intact.

The inside of the women's library is a whole other story, which is all loveliness of brick and clean lines. The receptionist on the ground level quickly signs me up for reading access (for reference: a double sided-sheet, photo ID required to hold for the duration of visit), hands over my card, and I am good to go. Well, after a short stop downstairs wherein I store my non-reading-room-compliant backpack.

Taking the stairs to the third level, I find the reading room mostly empty, apart from the librarian, a man intently reading, and a woman fast asleep. (I suppose learning can be made, albeit at a slower rate, through osmosis.) There is a long table for research and study, open stacks wrapping their way along one side, biographical material on the other. An adjoining room houses periodicals, a line of computers connecting the two sections. It's there that I make my initial Virginia Woolf catalog searches.

I soon realize that the Women's Library is connected to London Metropolitan University, judging by several books that are housed in the college's other libraries. I do find a good number of pertinent materials, biographical and ephemera: most excitingly, Virginia Woolf's diaries, and newspaper clippings. Roaming the stacks, however, becomes my downfall, and I pick up several essays on Virginia Woolf and lose track of time down that road. Which is not such a bad road, but not as pertinent a direction as I should've taken.

I did, it should be said (as my saving grace) that I noted what titles I had need of. And so another visit is in the plans, this time with librarian staff help, for the restricted items, and other reference material they are privy to (and my own searching skills are not!).

The Women's Library
Images courtesy of The Women's Library (London Metropolitan University)

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