What is the Vancouver Women’s Library?
We are a free lending library, resource network, and community space for and by women and girls. We encourage intergenerational, intercultural, multilingual conversations through our reading room, events, and programming, and believe in continuing the legacy of women-run bookstores, presses and libraries. Our membership has grown to over 400 women and girls in just one year, and our collection has expanded from 80 titles to well over 2000 and counting, in a variety of languages very much in demand. We are especially proud of our growing Spanish language collection and programming, with plans to expand multilingual children’s programming through collaboration with multilingual members and volunteers.
Our library differs from other public library institutions in that we do not ask for verification of citizenship, or landed status from members. Our only qualification for books entering our collection is that they are works written or edited by women, of any age, race, class, gender expression, or political views. Our catalogue is accessible to the public here. We see our books and space as belonging to the volunteers and members, not the city or any other institution. We are 100% volunteered powered and donations funded, with plans to establish ourselves as a non-profit community service co-op by year's end.
Who started the library and who runs it?
Two young women, who didn’t have much to offer other than a love for women’s writing, started this project with an idea and their own collection of books. Thanks to the support of their community of friends and loved ones who donated their labour, time, resources, and invaluable insights and feedback, it has since blossomed into a community of passionate bookwomen. Currently the VWL is sustained by a dedicated team of over 30 volunteers. To learn more about the women behind the library, please send us an email: hello at vancouverwomenslibrary.ca.
How is the Vancouver Women’s Library funded?
The library is funded 100% by donations and small grants.
Is the library affiliated with any larger group or organization?
No. The library is an independent, volunteer-run project, maintained by volunteer labour.
Who is the library for?
We have an open door policy for all genders and welcome women and girls of any age/class/creed/gender expression/profession/race/sexuality to sign up as members. We especially encourage parents and caretakers to spend time with their children in our library. Our space is available for events, film screenings, workshops, collaborations, pop-ups - anything is possible! If you have an idea you'd like to explore, we'd love to hear from you.
Does the VWL censor books?
It would conflict with the public interest to coerce the tastes of women by forcing readers to accept any book as dangerous. We aim to provide access to as wide a variety of women’s texts as possible and believe in enriching the quality of thought and expression through the library. Our catalogue is constantly in flux, changing and growing as we receive more book donations and expand in response to community demand. We believe in the right to intellectual freedom: to seek, receive, hold and disseminate information from all points of view, including non-dominant and unpopular perspectives. We see ourselves as an active agent in keeping women’s writing alive and circulated, guided by our mandate to meet the requests and needs of our patrons and community without personal prejudice.
Who can get a membership at the Vancouver Women’s Library?
Memberships are for women only, and we welcome everyone to browse through our catalogue and support women authors. Our priorities lie with the circulation of texts amongst women. We do not exclude women from membership based on citizenship status, ability to acquire and show ID, their sexuality or gender expression. All women and girls are welcome to create memberships with us and to bring ideas forth for anything they'd like to see in the library.
What does a membership at the library entail?
A membership gives you access to our entire catalogue and enables you to borrow library materials from us. We believe that every woman and girl has something to offer. Every woman and girl is a library of knowledge and experience unto herself. In sharing our resources with one another, we gain an entire community of strong, powerful individuals who have each other's backs, who will hold one another accountable, who will help one another develop and grow to our full capacities. As a member you’ll also be the first to know of any upcoming events, reading circles, workshops, lectures, writing groups and more!
How do I get a membership and how much does it cost?
You can sign up for a membership in person during opening hours. The cost of a membership is by donation, renewed annually. We recommend between $5-$20 to help us keep the lights on. No one will be turned away for lack of funds. We also have a pay-it-forward option if you would like to purchase an extra membership for women who can’t afford a donation.
How many books can I take out at once?
We do not have a limit, though recommend no more than 5 at once for the benefit of all of our members. We are more than happy to accommodate various projects and/or research, simply shoot us an email.
How long can I keep books for?
Our standard loan period is three weeks. Members can renew books once on their own by logging into their libib accounts. Please shoot us an email for any further renewals and we will gladly extend your books for you!
Where do books at the VWL come from?
Books are largely sourced through community donations. Wherever possible, we aim to source our books from local, independent bookstores. We are proud to support the hard work of local booksellers throughout the lower mainland. If you have a woman-authored book, magazine, or journal subscription you'd like purchase and send to us, we'd be delighted and thankful! You can find our address below.
How do you decide which books to order?
Our current priority is to build our multilingual collection to reflect the beautiful diversity of our members and the community we have the privilege to organize in.
Can I donate books?
Yes! We are currently accepting women-authored books in excellent condition in any language. We do not accept discarded library materials, textbooks, dictionaries, or encyclopedias.
Do you accept volunteers?
Most definitely. You can sign up here!
What are your hours?