The Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) wants to know, “What’s your queery?” That phrase is the tagline for the library system’s LGBTservices, established a year and a half ago and the subject of a presentation at the American Library Association’s (ALA) 2015 annual conference in San Francisco.
The confluence of the Supreme Court decision in theObergefell v. Hodges case and the annual Gay Pride parade during the conference proved the perfect backdrop for the presentation, in which two LAPL librarians described how they improved LGBT services through grassroots efforts.
“Two of us [are] steering the ship, but we have a wide group of contributors. We try to find the talent,” said Xochitl Oliva, archivist and cochair of the LGBT Services Committee at LAPL, of herself and LGBT services cochair David Hagopian. They are two of the five librarians who established LGBT services at the library in January 2014 to ensure quality patron services throughout the 72-branch system.
The group’s impetus started from LAPL’s Leading from Any Position initiative, which holds workshops designed to promote grassroots innovation. The LGBT services were founded alongside other affinity groups including multilingual services, veterans’ services, and homeless services.
“We created this LGBT Heritage Month resource packet with adult programs, young adult programs, children’s programs, [and] book lists, and we created this webpage for the self-service patron,” Olivia said. Those resources including blog posts, podcasts, book lists, and even databases of interest.
As a part of the Heritage Month resource project, two children’s librarians created rainbow family story times that could be implemented at any location. Activities included a family mobile-making craft program for all ages and another hands-on opportunity to make Pride buttons.
The library’s LGBT book lists are also notable for their level of specificity, separating out YA books on lesbian and transgender themes from those with gay male characters. Rudy Ruiz, LAPL adult librarian and LGBT services member, also organized an LGBT-themed film program. A filmmaker and former cataloger at the University of Southern California (USC) Cinematic Arts archive, Ruiz knew about USC’s student films whose copyright was held by the university.
Since the program launched, “Our [staff] numbers have really grown,” said Oliva. “Last year we had 70 participating in our outreach.... This year, we had 86.”
“We are trying to create a structure that anyone could look at and re-create,” she added. “We’re going for replicability.”
Image: Rudy Ruiz (l.) and Xochitl Oliva share their work and tagline, “What’s your queery?”