My Life in Library-Land: Grad School, The Pride Library, and OLA

For those of you who may not already know, I’m in graduate school studying library and information science (LIS) to become a librarian. The experience has been a mix of ups an downs, but the ups are totally worth the all-nighters and endless group projects. I’ve met some really amazing people in the program as well, and of course they’re all book lovers. Some of them even read this blog! Crazy.

The Pride Library

My university boasts Canada’s only queer academic library, collecting everything from titles on queer theory to queer graphica to vintage erotic magazines from the ’50s. And yours truly has the privilege of working there! It’s been an amazing, eye-opening experience for me, both professionally and personally. Plus I mean…check out that q-shaped office window. How freaking amazing is that?!

Pride Library 1

The Pride Library is a donation-based library and archive collecting materials by and about queer people and communities. It was actually started by Dr. James Miller, a prof who wanted to teach a course on gay and lesbian literature in the mid-1980s but found that there was no usable material in the campus libraries to support his proposed syllabus (because everything was either homophobic or full of misinformation). So being the complete hero that he is, Dr. Miller started his own private library collection, which eventually grew into a full-fledged lending library. Kind of mind-blowing when you think of it, especially since he only felt comfortable enough to start the library once he got tenure…because he knew that after that point he couldn’t be fired for being gay. Dr. Miller is a pioneer and an inspiring activist. And I’m not just saying that because he’s my boss!

Today, the Pride Library has more than 10,000 titles. All of these were donated by either individuals or their estates, and without this community support the Pride Library wouldn’t exist.

During a typical shift I might answer some reference questions (“I’m looking for information on the Canadian trans community prior to 1990,” for example), help create a display highlighting a specific collection (right now we’re featuring our kink collection), and sort through donations. It’s been a really cool experience because it gives me the opportunity to work wiPride Library 2th books and also to reach out to other queer students, and to create a safe and welcoming space for everyone. I don’t think I’ve mentioned this here before (because why would anyone care, really?) but I’m bi and out, and unfortunately people are not always cool with that. Having a safe space on campus that facilitates and encourages the study of queer culture and topics is really important to me.

Libraries. Who knew, right?

 

OLA Superconference 2016

The Ontario Library Association’s annual conference was held in Toronto this year, and the stars aligned so that I was able to attend. With hundreds of presentations, workshops, and vendors, there was a lot to see and do. Some highlights:

  • “Choosing to Walk a Path: Library Services with Indigenous Peoples on Purpose.” Addressed how libraries can purposefully engage with First Nations, Metis, and Inuit individuals and communities to support their information needs, activism efforts, and the Indigenous cultural revival.
  • “Prisons and Libraries: A Relationship Worth Incubating.” This session focused on developing relationships between libraries and local prisons. Incarcerated people comprise one of the most chronically under-served groups when it comes to libraries and education, which is particularly troubling given the proven causal relationship between increased literacy and decreased recidivism. Super interesting and empowering presentation.

I’m planning on submitting a presentation proposal to another conference in a few weeks, so fingers crossed for me everyone! My second semester in grad school is almost at an end, two more to go! The library-land adventures continue…

Are there any cool bookish spaces in your area? Have you visited any unique or beautiful libraries? What are you up to in your lives these days? Let me know in the comments, because y’all know that I’m nosy!

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