Blogger Erika Hogan

Reading with PRIDE in Youth Services

It’s June. And like every June since I’ve begun working in youth services, there’s a little part of me that wonders what to expect (if anything) when PRIDE displays go up around the library. While I’m ready for complaints and concerns as the surge in book challenges continues, something else can happen too.

People can smile.

This year a caregiver and school age child stood at the lobby display browsing the featured LGBTQ+ themed books for different ages. Both had big smiles on their faces. The adult picked out a picture book, adding it to a basket full of titles. Then they picked out another. For the youth who walked up to the reference desk at the end of May asking, “Are you going to do a Pride display?” and the middle schooler who asked about LGBTQ+ themed fiction, and the dozens of people who maybe never found the courage to ask… the library holds space.

I stay mindful of the books I include and the places they are included. My hope is to avoid confusion about who the intended readers might be. Well before Pride, I think about the collection so I can highlight hidden treasures – not just the controversial titles and “hot topics.” Of course not all Pride displays and events look the same. Because not all communities are the same. But it’s important during Pride and all year to consider how including diverse materials and themes serves our patrons. Wherever you are on finding those right sized approaches, keep calm and library on. Start small. From how to “Defend Pride at Your Library,” tips from Programming Librarian about LGBTQ+ Pride Month, to ALSC blogs about celebrating Pride, you’re not alone.

These small moments mean a lot to library staff, but you know what? Holding space for diverse voices during Pride month (and beyond) matters more than we may ever know to the youth, children, families, and caregivers we serve. Our efforts, whether met with smiles or frowns, let folks know the library welcomes them.

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