Blogger Abby Johnson

Celebrating Our Library Pride

We just wrapped up our first big library Pride month! We’ve put up book displays for years, but this year we really wanted to add programming and more. I posted some resources last month, but here’s how we approached our first Pride month.

Facing self-censorship

I’m sorry. This was the first step, but I don’t want to start with this section. Let’s just move it to the end of this post and start with something fun.

What library Pride programs did we offer?

Rainbows on everything! Celebrating library Pride by making rainbow bracelets.
Rainbows on everything! Celebrating library Pride by making rainbow bracelets. Photo by Abby Johnson

Rainbows! Rainbows on everything! Nah, we did more than that.

We held LGBTQ+-family themed storytimes at both our locations.

For teens, we showed Love, Simon and decorated cupcakes and gave away copies of the book.

Library Pride bracelets made with pipe cleaners and pony beads
Library Pride bracelets made with pipe cleaners and pony beads. Photo by Abby Johnson

We incorporated a rainbow bracelet craft into our Summer Reading kickoff. Our local Pride festival was that afternoon and evening, so it was nice to let families make something they could wear to Pride later that day. We strategically placed this activity near our big Pride flag display so families could make bracelets to correspond with different flags if they wanted.

Our adult programmers got in on the fun, too. We started off our monthly story slam with stories of LGBTQ+ pride. Two of our book groups chose LGBTQ+ titles for June. (Actually, our Reading the Rainbow book group meets monthly throughout the year.)

What about self-directed programming?

A display of Pride flags at the library
Pride flags at the library! Photo by Abby Johnson

Our staff put together an amazing display of over a dozen different pride flags. They included information about different LGBTQ+ identities, the history of the flags, and what the colors and symbols represent. I saw so many patrons checking this display out and having conversations. (Did you know that there are lots and lots of different pride flags for different LGBTQ+ identities? If the rainbow is the only one you recognize, Google can help with that!)

A children's book display featuring picture books about rainbow families and Pride
A children’s book display featuring picture books about rainbow families and Pride. Photo by Abby Johnson.

Of course we had book displays in every area of the library. Staff also put together a slide show profiling influential LGBTQ+ folks and events in LGBTQ+ history that we added to the adult book display. A digital photo frame displayed the slides, advancing every 15 seconds.

And how about outreach?

Yes! Our library had a booth at our local Pride festival for the first time ever. We reached out to a neighboring library and had booths next to each other since the festival incorporated both our communities. We handed out buttons and stickers with our library logo over various pride flag colors. People went bananas for the buttons and stickers, many of them searching out and so appreciative of finding their identities represented. We handed out free queer-themed picture books to the first 70 or so folks. Of course, we also promoted our library Pride programming and LGBTQ+ books in our collection.

Oh cats, you must be tired. But what’s next?

Pride doesn’t end in June. It’s important to celebrate Pride in June. It may be even more important to offer LGBTQ+ programs and displays in other months. It shows that we support our LGBTQ+ families when it’s not trending. And there’s so much going on in June that your LGBTQ+ families may be exhausted and overbooked. So, let’s keep the party going! Your queer community doesn’t stop being queer in July. 🙂

Luckily, we started this entire journey with a big brainstorming meeting. Before we planned our first program or display, we came up with a giant list of ideas. I compiled them into a Google doc and now we have ideas at the ready for programming throughout the year.

If you’re just getting started, October is LGBTQ+ History Month, so now’s the time to start brainstorming for that!

I know one goal for our library is to think of ways to incorporate LGBTQ+ support into already-existing programs. I’m already thinking about activities for honoring and learning about Black LGBTQ+ activists for our Juneteenth festival next year.

I would also like to find more ways to reach out to our community and incorporate their input into the programs that we’re offering.

Facing self-censorship (Okay, now let’s talk about it)

I’ll be real. We’re in Indiana. We had valid concerns about how some of our community members would react to seeing Pride observed in the library. Communities very close to us have faced months-long challenges and hateful protests that were traumatic for staff and patrons alike. But if we let the fear of that reaction keep us from even trying, then we’re censoring ourselves. Don’t let self-censorship get in the way of doing good by your community.

We did prepare staff in case they got complaints. We also brought in a presenter who spoke about LGBTQ+ inclusivity at a staff meeting.

This post supports the following ALSC Core Competencies: I. Commitment to Client Group, III. Programming Skills, V. Outreach and Advocacy.

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