About the Collection

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The Library consists of both a lending library collection and archive collections.

Copies of Spare Rib celebrating International Women's Day
Copies of Spare Rib celebrating International Women’s Day

The lending library collection comprises information on a broad range of subjects relating to women’s lives and experiences, while the archive contains diverse and rich collections of books, archive materials and objects including posters, banners, photographs, artworks, t-shirts, postcards and badges.

The Lending Library

We have wonderful, inspirational and ‘hard to find anywhere else’ books by, for and about women, just waiting to be discovered. Browse our online catalogue or pop into the library and browse our shelves; you can borrow books for free by joining the Library. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll find out about women’s lives, histories and achievements in the pages of our books.

Here is a brief outline of the types of books you’ll find in the library:

  • Feminism – including history of the women’s liberation movement in the UK and around the world, black feminism, feminist theory, gender roles and body image
  • Violence against women – including prostitution, pornography, sexual violence, domestic violence and the impact of war on women
  • History – including the Suffragette movement in UK and around the world, overviews of women’s history, 18th, 19th and 20th century history
  • Women’s lives around the world – including women’s political and socio-economic situations and development policies
  • Religion and spirituality – including Goddesses, feminist theology, women and Islam, mythology and witchcraft
  • Sexuality – including history of sexuality and LGBT issues
  • Health – including wellbeing, reproductive health, the women’s health movement and psychology
  • Women artists, photographers and designers – including feminist art history, comics and fanzines
  • Literature and language – including literary criticism and writing techniques
  • Technology and science – including cyber-feminism and architecture
  • Work – including discrimination and mothers working outside the home
  • Law and rights – including equality issues, legislation and the justice system
  • Media – including feminist media theory and women’s portrayal in the media
  • Lesbian history and culture – including equality and discrimination, relationships, lesbian mothers and lesbian feminist theory
  • Politics – including political participation, women politicians and human rights
  • Family and relationships – including marriage, motherhood and older women
  • Economic and social issues – including housing, poverty and labour market politics
  • Fiction and poetry – in particular Scottish, feminist and lesbian
  • Biographies and autobiographies – both well-known and unsung heroines and key figures in history

All of our books have been donated over the past 20 years by library supporters. Find out more about how to donate books to the library.

Our Archive Collections

Over the years we have built up diverse and rich collections of books, archive materials and objects including posters, banners, photographs, artworks, t-shirts, postcards and badges. The archives can be divided into three main sections: The Lesbian Archive, archives donated by individuals and organizations, and the Library’s own records and archives.

The Lesbian Archive

Established in 1984 as the Lesbian Archives Collective in London, the Lesbian Archive was transferred to Glasgow Women’s Library in 1995. It comprises printed materials ranging from books, reports, pamphlets and theses to biographical cuttings, personal papers and photographs of individual women, social events and demonstrations.

Badges from the Lesbian Archive collection
Badges from the Lesbian Archive collection

Specific collections include:

  • Camden Lesbian Centre and the Camden Black Lesbian Group archives comprising posters, minutes, reports, photographs and other materials
  • Oral histories including testimonies lesbians from across the United Kingdom
  • Lesbian Line Glasgow Archives
  • Groundbreaking lesbian journals from the 1960s onwards, including Arena 3, Sappho and The Ladder
  • Personal papers of Jackie Forster and Anna Livia

Archives donated to the library

These consist of papers, oral histories, photographs, artworks and ephemera, such as badges, t-shirts, banners and campaign materials from both individuals and organizations.

The Suffragette
The Suffragette

Some of the library’s collections include:

  • Equal Opportunities Commission Publications archive
  • Women’s Church Resource group archives
  • Large selection of journals including Spare Rib, Everywoman and Harpies and Quines
  • Collection of suffragette material and anti-suffragette postcards
  • Women’s liberation newsletters and fanzines from the 1970s and 80s
  • Scottish Women’s Aid archives including newsletters and newspaper cuttings
  • Women Live in Scotland archive
  • Abortion Campaign archives, including Scottish Abortion Campaign archives
  • Knitting and dress patterns

GWL Archives

The Library’s keeps its own records documenting our own groundbreaking history and work with women, including the archives of Women in Profile; newspaper cuttings relating to women and gender issues, c.1989 – 2000; oral history projects, photographs; and material relating to prominent Scottish women and GWL events and artworks.