Monday, July 5, 2010

CLGA goes to Washington

Librarians have played a key role in the quest for freedom and equality for LGBT people. Professional librarian Barbara Gittings was instrumental in forcing the American Psychiatric Association to drop homosexuality as mental disorder. She also coordinated the first gay caucus of the American Library Association (ALA) and continued to work as a political activist until her death in 2007. Today, that gay library caucus has evolved into the GLBT Round Table of the ALA. There are roughly 1,000 members of this Round Table who work to make libraries queer positive, develop collection strategies that support LGBT patrons, and develop programming for LGBT communities across the continent.

Each year the GLBTRT organizes a session about queer libraries and information professionals for the annual ALA conference. This year, the CLGA was invited to present in Washington DC on the outreach and advocacy that we undertake as part of the Community Engagement Committee. CLGA volunteer and University of Toronto iSchool doctoral student Rebecka Sheffield took up the charge and went to Washington to participate.

The Session, titled Rainbow Hollinger Boxes was organized by radical cataloguer K.R. Roberto and chaired by Houston-based UWO-educated librarian Shawn Vaillancourt. The session also included presentations by manuscripts librarian Steven Fullwood with the New York Public Libraries Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and author and historian Phillip Clark, who works with Washington’s Rainbow History Project. Rebecka’s presentation rounded out the group. Each discussed their unique collections of LGBT material and shared the difficulties and triumphs their organizations have experienced throughout the years.

For more information about the ALA, the GLBT Round Table, or to request a copy of the slides for this presentation, please contact Rebecka here.

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