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Friday, February 6, 2015

GLBTQ Outreach in Eau Claire

Many thanks to Ashley Bieber of the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library for this guest post.

This fall I was contacted by an employee of Q2, a group for LGBTQ youth in the Chippewa Valley about ways the  library could support LGBTQ teens.  I was more than happy to be contacted by the group, as I shamefully had no idea that they even existed, and outreach to teen community groups had become a mainstay on my "when all my other stuff is done" to-do list.  I arranged with the employee to meet me at the library to take a look around at our Teen Lounge and the materials and services we offer.   

When we met we didn't have any sort of agenda or plan about what was going to happen.  She generally asked me about different books, magazines, and movies that we might carry and programs we typically offer.  I was excited to point out all our great fiction and non-fiction books concerning sexuality and gender, and all the great books we have about the teenage experience in general.  I wanted to make sure they saw the library as an ally and know I was open to ideas that could support the needs of Q2 youth.  We discovered we had a lot in common in terms of reaching teens and actually have them participate in our activities.  I was surprised to learn at that time they had mostly middle school transgender youth attending Q2. 

After learning their group regularly meets on Tuesdays, we decided it would be great if during one of their meetings they could walk down to the library to meet me and take a look around.  I made a great display of books I thought might be of interest and also created a document about the library, privacy, intellectual freedom and different book awards they might be interested in.  Unfortunately, no one attended group that night.  I sent the documents to the center with the employee.  She apologized for the zero attendance, but as a teen librarian I am all too familiar with having no teens show up to an organized activity.  Group attendance is hit and miss for them, just like our library programs.

We haven't attempted another try at having them to the library again, but I'm glad the staff at Q2 know that the public library is another safe place that they can suggest to their teens.  Additionally, the groundwork has been laid for future collaboration, and we're both more familiar with each other's organizations.  

Ashley shared the handout about privacy and intellectual freedom with me, please let me know if you'd like to see it.  Looking for more suggestions for working with LGBTQ youth and families?  Check out the Infopeople archived webinar:  Rainbow Family Connections with Jamie Campbell Naidoo.

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