The Feminist Library in south-east London is a large archive collection of feminist literature, particularly Women’s Liberation Movement materials dating from the late 1960s to the 1990s. Established in 1975, it has been a hub for research, activist and community projects in this field for decades, also acting as a feminist, trans-inclusive, intersectional, non-sectarian community space for those who need it.
During these years, the library has been run almost exclusively by volunteers but, earlier this year, was hit with the news that the council has decided to develop its building. Despite being offered another space in Peckham, the library needed to raise the sum of £48,000 in order to not only move all of its books, but turn its new home into a functioning library and community space.
As a result, a team of designers were brought together to develop an identity that would support the crowdfunding campaign and give the new space a fresh look. This team consists of Lucy Sanderson Studio, Hi-Vis! Collective, Power Projects, and Anna Lincoln. Together, they have developed a typeface inspired by the library’s archive of feminist protest banners which often feature ribbon folded and stitched onto fabric to create letterforms.
In order to produce the typeface, Anna “commandeered a corner of my local pub over the Christmas holiday and made it my make-shift studio, creating large-scale letterforms with tape across tables”. She then “scanned the tape forms and made a digital version”. Titled FL_I Sans, the blocky modular letterforms can easily be reproduced by anyone – design experience or not – through a variety of low cost, and easily accessible tools like tape, ribbon, and scissors.
This decision was made to match to the hands-on ethos of the library: “It’s important that everything about the typeface is as accessible as possible; it must be affordable, easily adopted and fun,” Anna continues.
Looking forward, the typeface will continue to be used on all fundraising material during the remaining 12 days of the library’s crowdfund (you can donate here) and to advertise events and workshops at its new building. The library will also be hosting open-invite workshops in April to help re-imagine a new symbol for the Library that will “represent feminism today”, she concludes. Keep an eye on the Feminist Library’s website for updates on how you can take part.
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