Libertas! Bookshop, 43 Gillygate

Ann Murray suggested the name for this bookshop, based on “liber” for book, and the whole “libertas” for freedom, as she discusses in her talk about Libertas in Good Organisation CIC's Audio History tour of LGBT York. The bookshop owned by trans lesbian Jenny Roberts and her partner Ann Croft opened in 1998 on 42 Gillygate and was stacked with books of all genres, by or about women queer women.

In 1999 a book list was started, followed by a website which became a central focus for the owners’ endeavours after the shop’s closure in 2003. Quickly getting the hang of mail orders, Libertas! became known as “Europe’s Number 1 Lesbian Bookstore” only 4 years after it opened. As seen on the Wayback Machine’s screen captures of the website, and as described on GayMafiaWatch’s Wordpress article from 2009, Libertas! also sold “gifts, greeting cards, and other specialist Lesbian and local merchandise.” The biggest loss was nonetheless of the physical space, which acted as a meeting places for queer women in the city. According to the article, other groups would meet on the premises of Libertas!, notably the free newsletter alternative to DIVA, “DykeLife”.  In 2004, its services were taken over by the publishers of DIVA, Gay Times and the Pink Paper.

A sweatshirt featuring the logo of Libertas! Is now part of York Castle Museum’s collections, and was also featured in the Out of the Closet exhibition. Jenny Roberts is also responsible for setting up the York Lesbian Arts Festival.