The American Library Association gives tips for small-town librarians about how to sneakily queer the stacks
Does your library work in a rural or conservative area? Do you work as a staff member on the frontlines, without any managerial or administrative authority Are you a frontline staff member who wishes you had more power to help make the library more welcoming to LGBTQIA+ people, but is met with resistance?
I hope that it isn’t just me. Since almost a decade, I have been a frontline librarian in a small town. My library has struggled to make inclusive changes. Sometimes it can feel demoralizing to not be supported by your library and the communities that they serve. It can feel as though advocacy is dead. You shouldn’t.
There are small actions you can take that will help you and your community to be more welcoming to LGBT people. These are some of the things that I have done. They will inspire others in similar situations and locations to continue fighting for equality.
Sneakily fit stuff into current programs. While you may not be doing Drag Queen Storytime yet, you are probably still doing Regular Old Storytime. You can “sneak in” inclusive messages to your existing programs. If you are reading a book that is about Mama bears and Papa bears, you might change the title to include 2 Papa bears when you finish it. You might also point out that a book you are reading about a rabbit who loves to play sport and get dirty, could lead you to change the title. You can change the gender of characters found in books that aren’t identified or relevant to your own preferences. Most children and their families will not notice. However, for those who do, knowing that their librarian is there to help them can make a big difference.
Don’t give up. I believe this is the best lesson that you can learn. When you ask your supervisor “Can I have a GLBT Book Month Display in June?” and they say “No,” or “Think about the children.” Or, “Customers will complain.” And “Why?” It is possible to feel discouraged. (And angry.) (And confused. They don’t know that every Thursday night is gay night in the local pub. But don’t stop asking. Next year ask, then the next, and so on. They might answer yes one year. The next year they may say yes. You will only find out if you persist. If you think a display is trivial, this is not true. A friendly, welcoming display can make LGBT people feel welcome in your community. It’s also a great way to get started. You want Drag Queen Storytime one day, but it’s best to start small.
This was several years ago. When complaints started, the ALA took the byline from Tess Goldwasser out of the article.
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Like I said, this isn’t brand new, but it’s still up on the ALA site, on its diversity blog, where you can find all manner of ultra-wokeness. This activism is not dead, but there’s no reason to think otherwise. As it turns out, public schools are now encouraging students to accept their queerness, which has been documented.
It’s amazing to consider what this means for the public trust. They are employees of the public, and they have to work in public offices. They openly desire to undermine the sexuality values of this same public. They fear for the safety of those who earn their wages. It seems not. They have never been made to pay for lying in order to colonize the minds of the children.
Why should anyone trust these people any more? People would be furious if this was a plan to place Christian content in the children’s stacks of the library. It’s not the religion of the ruling classes, but crickets.