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Friday, 1 February, 2002, 06:52 GMT
Women's Library finds home
The Women's Library
The building was converted with a Lottery Fund grant
The Women's Library opens in London on Friday, giving a permanent home to a collection that has its roots in the Suffragette movement.

The library building is housed in the Whitechapel Public Baths in London's East End, which has been redesigned by award-winning architects Wright & Wright.

Inside the renovated 1846 building are 60,000 books and leaflets dating from 1632 to the present day, along with nearly 400 collections of archives from women's organisations.

Spare Rib
The library houses 2,500 magazines since 1745
Director Antonia Byatt said: "This is an extraordinary collection - not only does it track the story of women's campaigns for equality with men, but it is a unique source of social history about daily life."

The library, which aims to "document and explore women's lives in Britain in the past, present and future" was formerly the Fawcett library, established in 1926.

The original library - based in a converted pub - centred on the Suffragette movement's archives, which remains the core of the present-day collection.

The opening exhibition at the Women's Library, Cooks And Campaigners, displays research and contributions from Cherie Booth QC, Rosie Boycott and Janet Street-Porter.

Women's Library plan
Wright & Wright designed the conversion
There will also be a collection of suffrage banners chosen by commentators from Marina Warner to Carol Vorderman.

The rehousing of the library was made possible with a grant of 4.2m from the Lottery Fund and contributions from a host of other organisations and government bodies.

The fund-raising campaign was initiated by Barbara Follett MP and continued by Dame Barbara Mills DBE, QC.

Director Antonia Byatt said: "In its new building, the Women's Library can become a center for living and making history, where these amazing stories can be discovered and discussed by everyone."

The library is open to the public - including men - from Tuesdays to Saturdays.

See also:

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21 May 01 | Arts
Women's fiction divides sexes
06 Feb 98 | UK
Women's battle for the vote
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