For many people across the world, there is no better way to pass an afternoon than by curling up with a good book. Often, avid readers will visit local libraries to find books that pique their interest, but they can also visit libraries that specialize in medical history, music, the military, or even theology. What is much harder to find, however, is a women’s library.
While rare, there are a few examples of Women’s Libraries in the United States. One such example is The Free Black Women’s Library, a black feminist mobile library with a collection of books written by black women. Started in New York by Olaronke Akinmowo, the mobile library has done pop-ups all across the country, but has unfortunately failed to take root in Indianapolis.
Dr. Leah Leach didn’t set out to fix the library problem when she first started inviting friends to her home for monthly meetings. These gatherings eventually coalesced into a group, WEB (Women Empowering Balance), and “was a series of conversations with friends wanting to find balance in our own personal femininity,” according to Leach. “One common theme kept emerging, the main role model in our lives was our mother – and not all of us wanted to “be” our mothers. What was also clear was that not many of us knew many women from history. It was a combination of the material that was not available, not being shared and not as easily digestible.”
In 2016, WEB became Gal’s Guide to the Galaxy and was accepted as a public, educational, charity, nonprofit. Gal’s Guide meetings opened to the public, hosted events, provided school outreach and started three podcasts. Leach did some research, and realized that there were hardly any women’s libraries, despite the fact that approximately 75% of all US libraries were created by a woman’s group.
After years of hard work, Dr. Leach’s dream had finally been realized – Gal’s Guide to the Galaxy was set to open a month-long, pop up library in Nickel Plate Arts. 1,600+ books were available for lending, in addition to public programming, and dreams of film screenings. All of that came to a screeching halt, however, when only a few days later COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.
Now, it seems the entire world is on pause, and everyone is a little bit afraid. Libraries, including the Women’s Library, have been forced to close their doors until further notice. Until the pandemic restrictions are lifted, readers can keep themselves occupied by listening to any of the three Gal’s Guide podcasts, which are available on their website, and wherever you get podcasts.