The Women's Library

Books by, for and about women – run by volunteers

TWL HERSTORY

1991

In 1991 a dedicated group of women got together to discuss the need for a library that contained print and non-print material for and about women, with a focus on lesbian and feminist literature. It didn’t happen like magic, but after slogging away for 3 years they finally found a space, raised the money and DIYed the building so that the dream could become reality. Go Girls! original logo

If you would like to purchase a copy TWL Herstory for only $10 [plus $2.50 P&P] please contact TWL.

1993

Still no home yet, but a letter of support was signed by many prominent Australian Women; such as Eva Cox, Ann Deveson, Justice Elizabeth Evatt, Dorothy Hewitt, Caroline Jones, Helen Leonard, Clover Moore, Sandra Nori and Dale Spender (check out TWL Newsletter Feb 1993 for the complete list).

THE YEAR IN REVIEW

  • The mayor of South Sydney City Council agreed to support TWL, and the search for an appropriate space began.
  • TWL joined with Allen & Unwin to conduct a series of “Evenings in Womens Writing”. Fund raising included: a book fair, bingo night & membership.
  • This year TWL was involved with a mega book fair and Mardi Gras, and was nominated for “Best New Parade Entry”.
  • In 1994 the 6th International Feminist Book Fair (held bi-annually) will be held in Melbourne, and planning began about TWL being involved.

1994

A home is found, at Alexandria Town Hall. And planning began to move the 5,000 books that had already been donated…that is after the rooms were stripped and painted.

THE YEAR IN REVIEW
“Evenings in Women’s Writing” continued (joint venture with Allen & Unwin).

  • A great party was held on June 16th, with Magda Szubanski a special guest. 100’s of women gathered as Anne Deveson and Dale Spender cut the red ribbon to officially declare TWL open. Snoopy 77 also performed at the launch party.
  • Natalya Lusty and Mary O’Brien travel to Melbourne for the 6th International Feminist Book Fair. It was found to be an important time for setting up contacts in Australia and overseas.
  • One newsletter had an article where Jan Breckenridge talked about her new book “Crimes of Violence, Australian responses to rape and child sexual assault”. Jan said “People don’t want to know. It makes them feel too unsafe and it threatens their ideals about the sanctity of the family.”
  • New library logo was developed by Victoria Hunt and Antonia Pesenti.
  • Fund raising: Giant raffle, Book Fair, garage sale and Dendy Screening.
  • The Women’s Library attended the 6th International Feminist Book Fair (held bi-annually) in Melbourne. Gail reported that it was fantastic mixing with so many feminist literary groups from around the world. It was great publicity for TWL.

1995

THE YEAR IN REVIEW

  • Domestic Violence (DV) Grant for $15,000 to purchase resources for a DV Resource Listing and Collection.
  • Anthology “For Too Long” donated to TWL, this is a testimony to the delegitimising of the feelings and experiences of birth mothers. (Read more in the Feb newsletter).
  • Following a grant from South Sydney City Council, TWL connected to the internet.
  • The TWL library bag was launched.
  • Cathy Gallagher was the MC for the 1st Birthday celebrations; Fiesta Carrera read her short story.
  • Sponsor -A-Coordinator scheme was launched.
  • The newsletter had an interview with Fiona McGregor.
  • Book Fair
  • Christmas Picnic at Coogee Women’s Pool

1996

THE YEAR IN REVIEW

  • Congratulations to Vicki on the birth of her daughter.
  • There was an article about TWL in Wicked Women magazine.
  • The binding of TWL’s copies of the first 60 issues of LoTL was funded by LoTL.
  • The newsletter highlights the Motherhood & Parenting section of library.
  • News of ROOM WITH A VIEW spreads.
  • Importance of RTN is highlighted in TWL newsletter.
  • Inaugural Annual National short story competition begins advertising for entrants, the winners to be announced at IWD event next year.
  • 2nd birthday celebrations.

1997

THE YEAR IN REVIEW

  • TWL began looking for a new home, as South Sydney City Council wanted to re open Alexandria Town Hall as a community space. South Sydney City Council showed it’s commitment to TWL by finding premises for the library in Brown St Newtown, and helping with the moving costs.
  • A tribute to Vicki Harding, whose optimism and ability will be sorely missed by all at TWL.
  • The Literary Brunch: Reading form their work were Fiesta Carrera, Susan Hampton, Natalie Varnish, Barbara Karpinski and Morgan Oliver.
  • There was a fruit juice stall at Fair day, Followed by a TWL stall at Mardi Gras Party- “look out for the women and their chupa chups!”
  • The Women’s Library Inaugral National Short Story competition. The competition provides an outlet for women’s voices and gives writers an opportunity to have their work read more widely.

1998

THE YEAR IN REVIEW

  • Beth Eldridge was welcomed as the TWL Coordinator.
  • In May TWL moved to its new home in Newtown. The official opening was held on May 16th, South Sydney City Council Mayor Vic Smith attended, and showed councils continued support by pledging $2,000 toward computerization and web site access.
  • TWL said a sad farewell to Donna, who had been holding the reins as Convenor. The committee thanked Donna for her tireless contributions to TWL.
  • The move from cards to electronic cataloguing began. The hours needed to do this mammoth job were calculated, and the final number was a bit too scary to spread around! But no, volunteers worked out how many hours each they would need to do a week and the work began.
  • TWL’s 4th birthday: The birthday bash was attended by 150 women. The drummers ‘shebang’ had everyone stamping their feet and clapping their hands!
  • The National Short Story competition was held again, the winner receiving $1,000. The winning entrant was also published in Australian Women’s Book Review. The winner in 1998 was Jennifer Moore, with 2 stories being declared equal first place. The stories were “The Dress” and “My Mother’s Chair is Empty”, the stories can be seen in the September 1998 newsletter.

1999

THE YEAR IN REVIEW

  • 50 members met to discuss male membership and access to TWL. The differences between Subscriber and Active Membership were also examined. Following the facilitated discussion, TWL remained an inclusive space, but it was emphasized that TWL would remain “a safe and supportive space, where women, including lesbians, could be. Any TWL member would need to be respectful of this aim.
  • IWD: Women marched under the library banner. And then there was the Art of Afternoon tea.
  • The financial situation of the library saw a cut back in opening hours. A cabaret fund raiser was held, and “the response was fantastic.”
  • TWL launched the “Off The Wall” art space; the aim was to provide a space for the display and sale of work by women artists, and to raise money for TWL from commissions. To view exhibitions at TWL click on the “Off The Wall” link.

2000

THE YEAR IN REVIEW

  • The library continues it’s “over hill over dale” history. While management made the decision that it was unable to keep a paid co-coordinator on at TWL, the work still continued, with volunteers keeping up the energy at TWL. There were many discussions around how to keep the space viable, and used. The key, as always, being the dedicated volunteers, if the library is not open women can’t use it.
  • Membership is still the main source of income for TWL.

2001

THE YEAR IN REVIEW

  • While 2000 was a year of upheaval and change, in 2001 TWL continued with the spirit and determination which has kept the library viable to date.
  • A movie afternoon was held, where women watched “Fire and Contact”.
  • A big thank you to TWL volunteers, members and sponsors.

2002

THE YEAR IN REVIEW

  • TWL had an increased energy this year, with new volunteers learning the ropes.
  • The stall at Mardi Gras Fair day raised $1,400 for TWL.

2003

THE YEAR IN REVIEW

  • This year TWL went in the Mardi Gras Parade. Banners were made for the side of the truck. These banners are still used in the library, and when marching at IWD and RTN.
  • There was a donation of computers, and the networking of the computer system began. Electronic cataloguing continued, with Bronwyn organising many a working a bee.

2004

THE YEAR IN REVIEW

  • There were many changes this year, with more discussion about the future of the library. There are the on going processes of collection development, attracting and maintaining volunteers (and providing training that gives them the skills they need). Following a meeting that was attended by management, volunteers, members and woman attending groups in the TWL space, it was decided that in order to meet the needs of the community (and for the library to continue), it was necessary to enhance the space for use by groups. Opinions around this decision were both positive and negative, as is understandable when the women committed to the library are so passionate.
  • The next 6 months was spent hard at work, moving shelves, putting up new shelves, buying a new lounge (thanks to grant from City of Sydney) and re shelving books.
  • The year wasn’t all work and no play though, with a celebration of same sex families held in December, as well as a major art exhibition- Resilience.

2005

THE YEAR IN REVIEW

  • Patou Clerc, a long term member and qualified librarian was engaged by the TWL Committee to re-access the collection, Patou finished this task and continued as a volunteer along-side Robyn, Anish Carmyn, Bronwyn Vost, Glennifer Roberts and Megan Adair to begin to re-establish the Collection Development Policy for the Library.
  • There was a re shuffling of the bookcases to open the group space more. And the Goddesses from Wollongong returned to help with the mammoth task of moving shelves!
  • And the moment we’ve been waiting for: The launch of the TWL WEB page.
  • A women’s dinner fund raiser was held on international lesbian day.
  • The Winter Retreat was attended by many women, who enjoyed the variety of events available.

2006

THE YEAR IN REVIEW

  • A special senior’s week event; Tea Bags and Hot Flushes and Laughter.
  • TWL produced its own calendar.
  • Lesbian Open House was in the Mardi Gras calendar.
  • Katie completed the setting up of the electronic cataloguing system of books and members.
  • Robyn Mah’s many years of commitment to TWL (including 3 years as Convenor), were acknowledged.

2007

THE YEAR IN REVIEW

  • In December 2006 the new management committee facilitated a discussion day to develop a strategic plan for TWL.Strategic Plan – Key Result Areas for 2008:
      Financial Security: $8000 float to meet running costs for 1 year, promote Sponsorship and Book shop
      Involvement & Participation: Membership; increase numbers, reflect our services as a library & meeting space
      Volunteers;two people on any shift
      Groups;each group to have a link with members, new groups to buddy up
      Community support & involvement
      Government & funding relations: promotion
      Sponsorship; in-kind (eg goods & services) as well as financial support
      Distance borrowing – regional and rural inclusion
      Effective Communications: upgrade IT systems,Catalogue,Database & Website
      Newsletter
      Membership Fees The Committee of Management agreed to introduce two new fee categories: Volunteer membership – $10 per year & Lounge membership – $10 per year. The Volunteer membership recognises the valuable contribution of volunteers to the library with a reduced membership.
  • Library Snapshot ~ What’s Been Happening? (exert from 2006/2007 annual report) It has been truly remarkable to work with such powerful, passionate women! In October 2006, a new Management Committee was formed at the AGM. Jeannie Sotheran, Emma Wilkinson, Joy Vivien and Fiona Davidson were past committee members and rejoined, adding great value and continuity for new members – Spiderlily Redgold, Sue Gee, Karah O’Shaughnessy and myself. We appreciate the three years of service by Robyn Mah as previous Convenor, and took up the challenge to pursue increased community interest and financial stability.
  • I would like to recognise and appreciate the time, effort and contribution of all volunteers without whom we could not open our doors. Shirley Kent has been doing a fabulous job as our Project Coordinator. Thank you Shirley. Finally, a special thanks to everyone on the Management Committee for all the work that goes on behind the scenes. Acknowledgement specifically to Sue for managing membership registrations and catering magic; Emma for the monthly rosters and supporting volunteers; Jeannie for our “Library Monologues” newsletter and group coordination; Karah for her corporate relations knowledge and fundraising focus; Spiderlily for Secretary skills,IT wisdom and computer systems management, as well as art exhibitions; Fiona for Treasurer responsibilities, financial management, mail, creative brochure design and power tools. Joy resigned after many years on Management Committee. We wish her well and appreciate her contribution to the bookstore and collection. We will also say farewell and bon voyage to Emma as she sets off on travels next year. Emma has been a wonderful support and resource to both volunteers and the committee during her involvement.
  • The Women’s Library has 98 members in 2006-07, and 20 of these wonderful women are active volunteers. 217 women are on our email list, and a total of 298 women (many past members) interested in the Library are registered on our database. It would be fantastic to see more of our “interested” women become members and get involved as volunteers.
  • In January 2007, all volunteers began collecting statistics on activity at the Library. After 6 months, we now have a better picture of how Library resources support women and the local community. For more information go to archives and look at the 2005 Annual report.
  • TWL hosted an International Women’s Day event, which included a discussion panel about safe guarding Women’s Herstory, drumming with Liz, readings by Uma and singing by the Chorus of Women.
  • Marfaret Sargent launched her book “Older and Bolder’ at TWL, and Jan Breckenridge spoke at the launch.
  • TWL launched its new poster, special thanks to Midnite Willow for donating their time and creative sprit to do this.
  • Use of the space by groups has increased significantly. There are now 5 groups meeting at TWL on a regular basis. The groups are very diverse, and it’s wonderful to see so many different women using the space.

2008

THE YEAR IN REVIEW

  • What a mammoth year, the TWL space is inviting and friendly, a hub of activity. City of Sydney has shown their continued support by granting us another stay on our rent. They were most impressed by both the library opening hours (7 days a week), and the use of the space by groups.
  • TWL celebrated IWD in a joint venture with Newtown Library. International Volunteers who had returned to Australia spoke about their experiences, Gayle talked about the new GLBTIQ collection at Newtown Library and we drum med up the feminist spirit with Liz and Laura.
  • IWD was also the launch of “Storying Our Lives”, this was a project funded by the City of Sydney. Three workshops were held at The Women’s Library during January and February. Women were asked to think about what living in Sydney meant to them, or to tell in pictures a story about their lives. Out of this emerged a diverse range of art and a wide range of interesting conversations. It was a unique experience to observe and be part of women connecting around shared creativity and the telling of their stories.
  • There were many entrants in the Short Story competition, and Karen Adler was the winner this year. There were a number of Friday evening events called “Feminist Fatalist” this year, which were co-ordinated by Uma. Performers included: Jakalene Extreme – Rap Artist & Activist, Chorus of Women – Social Justice Choir, Beth Eldridge – Spoke Word Performer and Dominique Khoury – Singer.
  • The group library calendar was a very busy little bee in 2008, with 2 groups now waiting for evenings to become available. The old stalwarts: AKA Lesbian Open House and Book Club, as well as Outwrite, GLOH, Tangerine Circle, 2 choirs, Wolf Study Group, ”C” Word(Lesbian cancer support group) and Creativity & Conversation.
  • The Off The Wall Art Space has also been busy, with 5 exhibitions this year. These were Silent No More(07-08), Storying Our Lives, Taken, Who’d Have Thought, Serendipity and TWL Herstory.
  • The big event for 2008 was the Spring Fling in September. This was a celebration of the library being at the Newtown location for 10 years. The event was attended by over 90 women, and included:
      Historical display
      Launch of the TWL Herstory book
      Launch of the Storying Our Lives Book
      Performers such as Chorus of Women, Jakelene Xtreme, Maxine Kauter, Jenni Nixon and the Jam Tartz, and Chris Carriage [who spoke about the history of aboriginal women in Australia. She placed it in the context of the generations of women in her family, and the different government policies that impacted on them.
  • The Inaugural TWL Women’s Awards were also announced at the Spring Fling.. There are so many wonderful and amazing women who are out there quietly doing their thing to support women and the women’s community. It is hoped that this will become an annual event. The winners this year were Glenniffer Roberts, Jeannie Sotheran and Vicki Harding.
  • Enough of the great happenings, TWL wouldn’t function without the many woman who volunteer their time. A huge thanks to the volunteers, both new and long serving for your dedication and support. It is the volunteers’ energy and enthusiasm as much as the collection and space that encourages women into TWL, a very, very big huge thank you.

2009

THE YEAR IN REVIEW

  • The Women’s Library had a table at the IWD event, where the question was asked Why Aren’t We There Yet?
  • The Mardi Gras Parade was a wonderful success this year, with some of the women form the library rallying with COAL, protesting the same sex legislation. The library was the meeting place for meetings and planning sessions about the implications of the legislation.
  • The WoLF sponsorship program was re-vamped, and this year we received donations to the library of over $3,000. Thank you to all the women who think of us, it helps a great deal with covering our over heads.
  • There were also had goods donated: Helen Vidler donated a laser photocopier and a computer chair, while Marion Buckley donated a much needed fridge.
  • Jean Bedford once again donated to TWL the 100 entries in the 2009 and Kibble awards.
  • On the 20th April TWL had our Bi-Annual Planning day.
  • Also completed this year was Stage 2 of the volunteer training program.
  • On the 21st of September TWL celebrated the winter solstice by having a $1 book sale. Volunteers put a lot of work into preparing for this day, and were rewarded with over 250 sales!
  • This year turned out to be a very good year for TWL technology. Shirley was successful with 2 grants to fund computer replacements, and Spider volunteered her time to help put everything together. We have new equipment for users, volunteers and the office. This included new computers and a wireless network so members can use their own laptops in the library while researching or studying. We also got the copier fixed and a new printer for the internet members’ computer. We achieved charitable group status with Microsoft so we now have a fully licensed version of Microsoft Office and Windows on all the computers. We were also able to upgrade the software that our membership and catalogue relies on (we were 5 versions behind) and now we have more options available to us to improve the database, when our database mistress [Katie] has time. We also finally got all our passwords and full control of the domain name back from our previous intermediary provider. This enables the women’s library to make better choices about registration and hosting. This took some effort by Spider and Fiona to reclaim the domain name. This was a significantly satisfactory year for BITS and BYTES at the library.

The 2009 TWL Women’s Awards were announced at the AGM, and the winners were:

LIZ IRELAND, for Support and Promotion of the Lesbian community. Liz Ireland
KAY DONALDSON, for Support and Promotion of TWL kay's award

 

  • As always, it is the volunteer’s energy and enthusiasm as much as the collection and space that encourages women into TWL, a big thank you.

 

2010

THE YEAR IN REVIEW

  • The Women’s Library had a table at the IWD event, where the question is still asked Why Aren’t We There Yet? IWD is an important event, a time to highlight the inequalities still faced by women. While the day brings a strong sense of solidarity, it’s important that more groups and individuals support this event.
  • IWD afternoon tea at The Women’s Library included: Poetry readings, Drumming with Liz and Laura and a Women Authors competition.
  • On Sunday the 28th March TWL held it’s first first From Our Collection afternoon. The plan is to invite an author who has a book/s in the library to meet up with women who read/borro the books in the library. Our first author was Kerryn Higgs aka Elizabeth Reily. It was a great afternoon and a wonderful opportunity to discuss so many aspects of the writing process. Many thanks to Kerryn for her time and willingness to open up about something which can be a very personal experience.
  • Our second author this year was Brigid Delaney, who spoke about her book ‘The Restless Life’. We had some interesting reading from Brigid’s book, including a very amusing vignette of speed dating—and, as usual, a stimulating discussion and excellent afternoon tea!
  • Our final author for the year was Jean Taylor, author of Brazen Hussies, a herstory of radical feminist activism in Victoria from 1970-1979. Discussion from Brazen Hussies ( not us…) was lead by Jean.
  • Jean Bedford once again donated to TWL the 100 entries in the 2010 and Kibble awards.
  • On Sunday 20th September TWL celebrated the winter solstice by once again having a $1 book sale. Many thanks to our volunteers members for your support and donations. The City of Sydney is also thanked for their support through the accommodation grants project.

2011

Liz Ireland

2011 marked a very sad loss in our community. Liz Ireland [for many years a strong supporter of The Women’s Library] died on the 3rd of March. Liz died when she was hit by a car while riding a long Parramatta Rd [on her way to a Mardi Gras practise]. Liz was an amazing and inspiring woman who left a mark on all who knew her. She is sadly missed by her community. We have put together a celebration of Liz’s life, to view it click on the following PDF link. LIZ IRELAND: We will remember you.
We realise that there may be many more women with thougts or memories that are not inlcuded here, we would be happy if you contacted us with these, and we will add them to this page.

THE YEAR IN REVIEW

  • As part of the LESBIAN WEEKENDER in SYDNEY, [8 – 10 JULY 2011] there was a Lesbian Movie Night at The Women’s Library.
    on Saturday 9 July 7.30–10pThe Women’s Library presented a great lesbian movie in feminist company. Over 50 women gathered, and ‘Better Than Chocolate’, was seen in the library’s own version of surround sound.