Books are important to communities. It is no surprise that many large communities originally started as book clubs. And what could send a stronger signal to the community on campus than the existence of a subject library? With this idea in mind, the WO&MEN@VU network, which strives for gender equality within VU, started collecting books on the topic of gender equality. An essential part of this was looking for ways to make the collection of books accessible and visibly present on campus.
Together with the University Library, and specifically project Omboeken, a thematic library on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was launched. SDG 5 focuses on gender equality, so this thematic library fitted perfectly with WO&MEN@VU's desire to have a place for their books on campus.
Preparing a thematic library requires work from many people. In addition to the books purchased by the WO&MEN network, the bookcase was filled with books from the library depots. To arrive at a representative book collection, each subject specialist at the library searched for suitable books within his domain. For instance, the medical literature specialist chose books on gender equality within medical sources; the same selection took place in other subject areas, such as in the philosophical, social science and humanities collections. Curator Willemien van Dijk also looked for relevant works in old manuscripts. She drew our attention to the books of Anna-Maria van Schurman, the first female student in Europe, in the VU Library's collection. In the 17th century, van Schurman challenged the educational establishment of her time to allow women to study. The awareness that gender equality was a topic of discussion long ago is evident in the numerous written texts from this era.
The WO&MEN@VU network and the University Library organised a lecture by Pieta van Beek on van Schurman to celebrate the launch of the library. On 14 February, HRM director Renée-Andrée Koornstra cut a ribbon attached to the bookcase. This beautiful gesture marked the launch of the Gender Equality Library, which was a long-held wish of the WO&MEN@VU network.
Curious about the SDG library? You can find it on the first floor of the University Library in the Main Building.