Monday, February 06, 2006

Liking the ladies' library lots

On Wednesday 1st February we got yet another opportunity to sample some of the varied delights the world of information has to offer. This time it came in the form of a tour of the Women's Library, just a short walk from Aldgate East tube.

This proved to be an interesting and enjoyable afternoon (even for our vastly outnumbered token boy). On arrival, we discovered the library was in fact an archive and a museum as well, and so we started with a guided trip around their current exhibition "What Women Want: stories from the Women's Library". This gave us a fascinating taster of their 5000 object strong museum collection, with exhibits ranging from sufragettes' banners to plastic surgeons' brochures. The exhibition's artwork also provided a means for local women's groups to express themselves, including HEBA - Brick Lane's skills and training agency for women.

The museum's all embracing representation of women's experiences proved in turn funny, tragic, educational and thought-provoking (although this was possibly lost on the school boy who suggested on the comment boards at the end of the exhibition that what made women beautiful was make up!)

After the museum tour we continued upstairs to the reading rooms where we were given a brief introduction to the library's collection of 60,000 books and pamphlets and 2,500 periodical titles (I was particularly excited to note this included the entire back catalogue of J17!)

All in all a great tour, our only regret being that we missed out on a snoop around the library's 400 archive collections.

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