Feminist Library Collection Growing

Steinem Sisters Collection at Main Branch Library

A new book club, a new collection librarian and expansion of media offerings are all part of the Steinem Sisters Collection at the Toledo Lucas County Public Library’s (TLCPL) Main Branch. Established in 2018 with over 400 titles, the Steinem Sisters Collection features feminist materials exploring the lives and achievements of women making historical, cultural and political contributions. Nestled in a niche on the first floor of the downtown library (just past the Fact and Fiction Desk), the Collection is a beacon of historical and modern works by and about women, a welcoming space for women of all walks of life to share their truths.

Local roots

Toledo native Gloria Steinem was instrumental in founding the collection, according to Allison Fiscus, TLCPL adult services coordinator. The library has continued to add to its original 400 titles. “We take a critical eye to everything we add to the collection,” Fiscus said. But the collection remains a tribute to Steinem. Among the many titles in today’s collection are several

special issues of Ms. Magazine, the publication Steinem co-founded in 1972. Other titles in the collection feature issues from throughout the history of the women’s movement, including: Stop the Next War Now: Effective Responses to Violence and Terrorism, edited by CodePINK Cofounders; Votes for Women, by Winifred Conkling; It’s Your World, by Chelsea Clinton;

Our Bodies Ourselves, by Boston Women’s Health Book Collective and Writings From the #MeToo Movement, by Shelly Oria

The Steinem Sisters Collection was originally housed at the women’s bookstore People Called Women which donated the Collection to the Library when the physical bookstore was closed. People Called Women still operates a mobile bookstore in Toledo. More information at peoplecalledwomen.com.

From past to future growth

When the collection was established, a dedicated librarian headed the group’s activities and partnerships. An advisory board was created (and still exists) and a book group was established. The Collection and Library partnered with a variety of community organizations, including hosting Bethany House’s Silent Witness Project. The pandemic interrupted the Library’s activities within the Steinem Sisters Collection, but now, a new librarian has been added to the collection, and the book group was re-established in March, to discuss The Soul of a Woman, by Isabel Allende. Upcoming book group meetings will be held on the third Thursday of the month at 7pm. 

Honoring Steinem’s legacy

“Our responsibility is to explore feminism in different ways as we expand,” said Fiscus. “Gloria Steinem believes in intersectionality and learning through talking. We’re being true to her goals and looking at a lot of different perspectives” for the Collection. “The conversation (about feminism) changes daily,” she said. “We’re exploring feminism in every possible way, as it intersects with inclusivity, equity and diversity.”

325 N. Michigan St., Toledo. 419-259-5200. toledolibrary.org.