Libraries Are More Than Safe Spaces

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A passion shared by librarians is the belief that libraries should be welcoming, free, and open to all while providing equitable service to their communities. Librarians recognize that these communities are typically made up of smaller, ancillary groups and librarians strive to develop services and collections tailored to meet the special needs of these groups.

This effort is in line with the strategic decision of the American Library Association (ALA) to form the Public Library Association (PLA) Task Force on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion to help libraries serve their diverse communities.

Among the communities, libraries are committed to serving is the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) population, which is often referred to as “the invisible minority” (see the University of California, Berkeley, Centers for Educational Justice and Community Engagement). This is because its members are not identifiable by appearance and are sometimes private about their identities—fearing censure and even violence.

The perceived invisibility of the LGBTQ community is often rationalized by arguing that the LGBTQ population is small, and therefore not a portion of the community that requires attention to special interests and needs. However, according to UCLA’s Williams Institute, 4 percent of America’s population identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. That is approximately thirteen million people—a minority far too large to ignore.

Recently, we partnered with Booklist to produce a piece on the library being more than a safe space. We spoke with past PLA presidents, ALA GLBTRT chairs, librarians, authors, and library-goers to create a wonderful piece, and we’re very excited to share it with you. Download the full white paper >> NEW BALANCE

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