Spare Rib enters the digital age following Jisc/British Library collaboration

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All 239 editions of the landmark feminist magazine Spare Rib have been published online for the first time; from today, every edition of Spare Rib magazine will be available to be viewed by anyone online for free.

The British Library will host a curated Spare Rib website featuring 300 selected pages from the magazine, alongside articles written by academics, activists and former contributors about how Spare Rib was run, its history and the issues it tackled.  

This site will link through to the website for Jisc, the charity that supports digital technologies in UK education and research, where the entire run of magazines will be available to view on the Journal Archive platform. The platform was launched to provide access to digital content for education and research allows users to browse across 239 issues and locate material from more than 11,000 pages of the magazine and is home to another 600 journal titles.  

Until now, the full run of magazines has only been available for consultation in the British Library reading rooms and a few other libraries and archives. The digitised Spare Rib site will mean that researchers, historians, students and anyone interested in feminism or activism can search across all 239 editions for the first time, transforming the way in which the magazines can be accessed, discovered and re-used.   

Debra Ferreday, senior lecturer at the Centre for Gender and Women's Studies at Lancaster University, said: 'The importance of the Spare Rib archive can't be overestimated. It's a unique record of the Women's Liberation Movement that will be of huge value to feminist researchers, scholars, students and activists everywhere. I'm delighted that Jisc and the British Library have made this material available in such an accessible, user-friendly form.'

Polly Russell, curator of politics and public life at the British Library, added: 'Funny, irreverent, intelligent and passionate, Spare Rib was a product of its time which is also somehow timeless.

'Detailed features on feminist issues such as domestic violence and abortion, and news stories about women from the UK and around the world sit side-by-side with articles about hair care (including the unwanted kind), how to put up a shelf and instructions on self-defence.  

'By making this part of our intellectual heritage available online, we hope it will attract new and returning generations of readers to the magazines for research, inspiration and enjoyment.'