Gender politics

August 9, 2012

The Women's Library and Information Center Foundation in Istanbul is deeply shocked and saddened to hear that London Metropolitan University is looking for a new custodian for its Women's Library due to financial constraints ("Imperilled archive seeks new fearless champion", News, 2 August).

We firmly believe that women's libraries around the world are indispensable in understanding the presence of women in history, offering proper information to female researchers and preserving documents for future generations. Our own institution, which resides in a historical building allocated by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, hosts the only collection of women's documents in Turkey, and has been supported for 22 years by volunteers, donors and local government. Its extensive collection is accessible both to individuals and institutions.

The Women's Library in London, like its sister institutions, addresses principles of legal and social equality that have permanent importance. It is precisely at times of economic difficulty that such principles must be defended; the independence and distinct identity of a women's library enables it not only to serve the needs of scholarly research, but also to champion education and awareness at many social and academic levels. The achievements of the Women's Library over the past decade deserve to be consolidated; the 150-year heritage of the women's movement should be celebrated and conserved.

We hope that any process of transfer of these unique collections will be carefully considered and that they will not be endangered by overhasty decision-making.

Tuba Cavdar Kratepe, president

Asli Davaz, founding member Women's Library and Information Center Foundation Istanbul

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