22nd June, Kellys Cellars, Belfast. 8.00pm. £5.00.
Benefit gig for the Just Books Collective with Riot Folk (anarchist folk/punk musicians collective from U.S.), and local folk musicians Pol Mac Adaim and Tony Maguire.
Just Books was an Anarchist 'bookshop' that was opened by the Belfast Anarchist Collective back in June 1978. Just Books was more than just a bookshop however, the premises included a cafe and print workshop and provided a focal point for the collectives many activities until it closed shop sixteen years later in June 1994.
Set up without any form of state subsidy or grant money was raised through running benefits and from interest free loans and donations from supporters. The bookshop, which became a feminist collective from the mid-eighties until it became a mixed gender collective again in the early nineties, was always run on a self managed basis with collective decision making at its core.
The bookshop was located in Winetavern Street in the Smithfield area;
“The location of the bookshop in the old Smithfield Market area of Belfast, at the bottom of the Shankill Road and the Falls Road, was important to the anarchists who set up Just Books in that they wished the building to be accessible to people from all communities”1.
When the building first opened to become a centre for Anarchist ideas and activity – in its time building had included a short-lived library, the Print Workshop, a meeting and exhibition space, the Hideout Café, Belfast Independent Video, Belfast Unemployed Group and Women's News office.
The BAC also printed a monthly paper, Outta Control, later joined by Gaining Ground an Anarcha-Feminist publication independently produced by women and distributed with Outta Control. Ainriail was also produced and copies of Organise! and Workers Solidarity, among numerous other publications, rolled off the Print Workshops presses in the early eighties. A Prisoners Book Scheme ran from the earliest days of Just Books right up until it closed. Books were available to prisoners at one third off and books banned by the prison authorities were cannily recovered to ensure they got past the screws.
A victim of the general decline of the Smithfield area following the 1986 development of Castlecourt, a more general squeeze on radical booksellers brought about by recession, increased book prices and growing competition from bigger outlets Just Books closed its doors proclaiming that “16 years of providing an invaluable service to the community and being a focus for social change and revolutionary ideas is something to celebrate.”2
The Just Books collective disappeared for a while after that but we hadn’t really gone away you know. In recent years we have provided book stalls at the Belfast May Day celebrations at St. George's Market, at numerous Grassroots Gatherings and at other events. Our third catalogue is currently being compiled.
Towards a New Premises
Just Books are working towards opening a new centre in Belfast. We are aiming to have things up and running in time to mark the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the Spanish Revolution - July 2006. To do this we need some active solidarity.
Again we want to make Just Books more than just a bookshop. We envisage a solidarity centre in Belfast that incorporates accessible resources and information for workers in struggle - in a premises providing a multi-lingual resource library, a bookshop, meeting space, internet access and a coffee shop. Ideally we would also like to include a print workshop and a projector for showing films. These are possibilities - we are asking for your support in order to achieve them.
1) Elaine, Just Books 10th Birthday. Women’s News. Sometime in 1988.
2) Just Books Spokesperson, Market to close if shoppers don’t return. Bookshop goes under as Smithfield crisis deepens. Anderstonstown News, 04/06/94.
JUST BOOKS NEEDS SOME ACTIVE SOLIDARITY
At the minute this is how you can help:
Donate books to our multi-lingual resource library (hundreds of titles have already been collected).
Buy a tee-shirt, printed by Organise! to raise funds for Just Books. The design is a wild cat (you all know the one) with Solidarity is Strength in text. Red ink on black shirt or black ink on red. These are available for £8.00 or 12.00 Euro, plus a couple of quid postage from the Just Books email address.
Buy a copy of ‘A Wee Black Booke of Belfast Anarchism’, by Mairtin O'Cathain, for £2.50 or 3.75 Euro and printed by Organise!. Again all the money raised from sales of this pamphlet will go to Just Books.
Come to one our fund raising events…
Put on a fundraising event for us.
If you are in Ireland request Just Books collective stalls at your events.
Send us a donation.
We need to raise several thousand pounds, the more we raise the more ambitious this project can become.
Jason for the Just Books Collective