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  1. ITV Report

War of words in fight for Women's Library

The biggest collection of literature dedicated to the history of women is under threat. The collection, housed at the London Metropolitan Museum, faces closure.

For the past ten years, the library has been part of the London Metropolitan University, attracting about 30,000 visitors every year.

The University needs to save around £1 million a year, and unless it finds more funding or a new home for the collection by December, the library's opening times will be reduced from five days a week to just one.

The collection includes a prized first edition of Mary Wollstonecraft's 1792 'A Vindication of the Rights of Women', suffrage banners, copies of Bridget Jones's Diary, as well as copies of Jackie magazine.

Since the library was established, as part of the National Society of Women's Suffrage, it has attracted writers, academics and politicians, including Vera Brittain, Eleanor Rathbone and Virginia Woolf. In the 1950s it was renamed the Fawcett Library in honour of suffrage leader, Millicent Fawcett.

Almost 9,000 people have signed an online petition to Michael Gove, the education secretary, and a host of high-profile campaigners are trying to secure the archive's future.

Dr Kate Muroph, from Goldsmith's University in London, has also spoken of her support for the library.

Teresa Doherty, the collections manager, says the collection attracts academics from around the globe as well as curious members of the public. Doherty says it is a favourite for visitors because "it says so much about respect between women irrespective of ideological belief".

The donations are still coming; at Christmas they accepted Edwina Currie's papers and Andrea Levy, the novelist, has dedicated a book to the library.

We recognise the huge importance of this collection being kept together ... but the university can't afford to spend the amount it does on what is a national resource."

– Malcolm Gillies, Vice-Chancellor of London Metropolitan University

The women's group has already drafted its first protest letter: "Women's voices are important and we want our voices heard today!" It continues, "Like the suffragettes before us, we will not give in."