When the Nottingham Women’s Library decided they wanted to showcase books about women’s sport they found a problem – they only had four books on the topic.
So they took to the internet to ask for donations and through the public, publishers and authors themselves they upped their collection to 40 and counting.
But the library’s volunteers weren’t content to stop there.
Over the May bank holiday they posted again about the book drive on Twitter and received a torrent of support.
Nicola Fisher, a PhD student at the University of Nottingham and volunteer at the library, says the campaign “just took off!”
She said: “I had no idea it was going to gather this much attention, support and enthusiasm.
“There is clearly a lot of appetite for this at the moment, helped I think by the drive for better coverage of women’s sports more broadly nationally.”
I love this initiative by @Nottswlibrary 😍 check out the thread.
I would love to see this across libraries in Australia so readers can have more exposure to women’s sports history and narratives about women and girls being active by giving sport a go 👊🏽 #womeninsport https://t.co/2KGVqC28K8
— Kasey Symons (@kaseysymons) May 6, 2019
With The Telegraph launching a dedicated women’s sports section and the women’s FA Cup final being broadcast on mainstream channels, female sport is finally making it into the limelight.
Nottingham Women’s Library is one of just a handful of feminist collections in the country and the only one in the East Midlands.
They aim to provide a safe and welcoming space for women to explore and share their stories, as well as promoting female authors and encouraging women to start writing themselves.
As the library is only staffed by volunteers, Nicola – who studies at the University of Nottingham – is unsure exactly how many books they have been gifted since the weekend, but many users are pledging dozens online.
And the donations are not just from local people either.
Athletes have got involved, from the first woman to climb both sides of Everest, Cathy O’Dowd, to Katherine Switzer who broke the race’s rules and became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon as a numbered entry.
Author Alexandra Heminsley and sports journalist Anna Kessel say they have donated too.
Nicola says the burgeoning collection is important because women are often completely absent from sports writing.
“When you go into a bookshop, if it has a sports sections, the contents are dominated by men and male authors,” she points out.
“This is not to say they have not accomplished amazing things, but so have women!”
“It is important to have these books visible to raise the profile of what women can do, their passions, drives and achievements,” she adds.
A huge HUGE thank-you to those who have donated & supported so far, this could not be done without you. This is as much your collection as it is ours 😊 the wish list is not exhaustive, only criteria: written & edited by women 👍 any qs, comments, suggestions get in touch 📚
— Nottingham Women's Library (@Nottswlibrary) May 6, 2019
Once their shelves are brimming, the library wants to hold an event to show off the selection, encouraging people to read about what women have achieved in sport and to realise its not just men who write about their active pursuits.
And just within the selection so far women’s success is marvellously far reaching.
Nicola couldn’t put her finger on the most interesting book they have been given, but between swimming, rowing and basketball to sailing, amputee cycling and adventure sports, there has to be something to peak anyone’s interest.