The Amateur Feminist Library

Feminism is a fragile archive, fragmentary, scattered here and there, confined in boxes, attics, and memories. The Feminist Amateur Library aims to bring these shatters and splatters into the physical world, allowing us to touch them and to be touched by them*. Departing from a digital collection of North-American feminist periodicals (dating from 1968-1992), the library decided to take this collection into its own hands, or rather, to put it in the hands of communities, aiming to make these publications more accessible.

Brought to life through public sessions, the library invites its visitors to become amateur feminist librarians — contributing by reading, completing metadata, marking content, discussing, and sharing their findings with each other. For each session, a topical selection (arts, labour, ecology, etc.) of publications is re-printed from the archive. Alternating moments of reading and discussion, the sessions are a space for encounters, re-arrangement, and negotiation, where informal research and collective knowledge production enable the making of dynamic, community-centred herstories.

To accomplish the complex task of administrating and sustaining such a library, a series of friendly tools have been developed. Using solely open-source technologies, they adapt to the evolving needs of the library and allow it to continue living in other places, times, and forms.

*Some words are borrowed from the beautiful introduction of Living a Feminist Life, by Sarah Ahmed (2017)

Images credits: Roel Backaert