Social Science blog

07 December 2015

Spare Rib Magazine Update

Since launching the Spare Rib digital site in May, we have been hard at work seeking former contributions to the ground-breaking feminist magazine, which is freely available for researchers, campaigners and all those interested in the magazine via Jisc Collections, to let them know their work is online and check they are happy with its inclusion.

We would like to share an update on some of the work we have been doing.

Since early summer, the Library has employed a former member of the Spare Rib collective along with a specialist rights clearance officer (whose considerable experience includes consulting for Who Do You Think You Are?) to help us undertake diligent searches for  former contributors. Their work is overseen by a project board chaired by the Chief Librarian and which is supported by the project's curator and project lead.

Other colleagues in the Library have also been highly involved, bringing to bear collections, rights and digitisation expertise, as well as building enhanced IT systems to record this activity. Taking into account the work of all the teams, the time spent is equivalent to two years’ full-time work.

We have shared information on authors, photographers and artists with trade and representative bodies, including the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS), the Society of Authors, Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS), Association of Author’s Agents, National Union of Journalists’ (NUJ) Photographers’ Council and the British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies, and consulted numerous sources, including WATCH (Writers, Artists and their Copyright Holders), electoral registers and search engines such as Google. Others sources that we have used to attempt to identify rights holders, along with the groups and organisations we have reached out to, are listed on this earlier blog post.

Since May, we have reviewed the information that we hold on over 4,500 rights holders, and will shortly write for a third time to all those not listed in the databases held by the groups listed above and for whom we have not had a response; this amounts to over 800 rights holders, and over 1,600 letters and emails.

We remain unable to locate all authors, photographer and artists, so as well as asking those who believe they may have been contributors to check the online magazine to find their items, we have been actively posting lists of names of contributors on the British Library website. A list of those photographers, visual artists and authors for whom we have a name but no contact details is available here.

Importantly, we have been meeting regularly with the trade bodies and societies listed above,  and we are pleased to report that we arranging a workshop early next year on issues around mass digitisation with help from the Association of Author’s Agents, ALCS, BAPLA, DACS, the National Union of Journalists’ Photographers’ Council, the Copyright Licensing Agency and the Publisher Licensing Society. We look forward to sharing more information about this event shortly.

As ever, if you contributed to the magazine, and have not heard from us to contact [email protected] or visit our permissions site at

Please do contact us if you have any questions about the project, or can help us identify further contributors.

Polly Russell, Project Curator
Matthew Shaw, Project Lead


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