College Library was pleased to work with QUELP, the Queer Emerging Leaders Program, during the spring semester to identify and address LGBTQ issues at the library. This thirteen-week program gives undergraduate students the opportunity to explore queer identity and develop leadership skills that help serve their communities. The student assigned to College Library worked with Trisha Prosise, the E-Learning Librarian and selector for the Gender & Women’s Studies Collection. According to Trisha, “One of the most exciting things about working with QUELP was having the student perspective on collections and resource development. Together we decided he should focus on gaps in LGBTQ literature and media at the library and he went on to make great suggestions on how to find and market these resources. This experience gave me a fresh perspective on our collections and how students access them.”
To determine which materials should be collected by College Library, the student distributed an online survey asking for media suggestions which was distributed to students affiliated with the LGBT Campus Center and Open House. He also developed a similar paper form soliciting suggestions that was posted at the LGBT Campus Center. After collecting responses, the student compared the library’s holdings and recommended purchasing over two dozen new DVDs and nearly twenty books. Titles range from such seminal works as Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart to cutting edge television shows like Orange is the New Black. A number of YA fiction titles, including Love in the Time of Global Warming, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe and Pantomime, have been added to Open Book and the Gender & Women’s Studies Collection.
After realizing that College Library did have a number of LGBTQ-focused resources in its collections, our QUELP student suggested that the library do a better of job of highlighting and connecting those items. Since June is Pride Month for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, we are featuring a display of books, videos, music and more in the appropriately-named Open Book Collection, Room 1250, of the library. For the first time, items from collections throughout the library are on display in one place, thereby making it easier for users to see our diverse holdings. And, once those users check a book or movie out (which they are encouraged to do), a set of bookmarks featuring LGBTQ resources are on hand to remind people of the range of materials available. Developed by Trisha and Eliot Finkelstein, the selector for Open Book, these bookmarks will highlight LGBTQ resources long after the display is dismantled.
Going forward, Trisha is optimistic about continuing to build connections with campus partners. As she says, “I look forward to receiving recommendations from students at the LGBT Campus Center about titles they want to see at College Library. And the thoughtful suggestions we received from QUELP will guide our actions/discussions for the coming semesters.” College Library gained much from this project and we thank our QUELP student for his insights and the LGBT Campus Center for their support of this program.