The Independence Branch Library at 18 South 7th Street in Philadelphia’s historic district, is celebrating GLBT History month. The branch is home to the Barbara Gittings GLBT Collection, named in honor of Barbara Gittings, an early pioneer in the fight for gay and lesbian civil rights. Gittings’s commitment to libraries began as a teenager when she was unable to find any books about gay people in the library. She demonstrated for the civil rights of the gay community during the mid-1960s at the Pentagon, the White House, and Philadelphia’s own Independence Hall. For 15 years, she headed the Gay and Lesbian Task Force of the American Library Association and edited its Gay Bibliography and other gay reading lists. Barbara lived for many years in Philadelphia and the branch’s collection, named in her honor, is within blocks of her early civil rights demonstrations.
The Barbara Gittings Collection is the largest dedicated GLBT public library collection east of the San Francisco Public Library. The collection is a circulating one, with fiction and non-fiction books in a range of genres from romance to biography to graphic novels. The Free Library is now floating audiovisual materials, so GLBT movies, music and audio books once housed at the branch are shelved throughout the branches of the Free Library system and available upon request. The branch has sponsored GLBT programming including a Valentine’s Day program celebrating long-time gay and lesbian couples—Barbara Gittings and her life partner, Kay Lahusen were one of three couples inspiring us all with stories of their lives together. We also hosted a Valentine’s-themed GLBT speed dating event this past year.
Please come in and check out the Collection! We are open to requests for materials and programs, and welcome volunteers. Email us with your suggestions: GLBTlibrary@yahoo.com and check out the branch Facebook page: www.facebook.com/independencebranch. The Friends of the Independence Branch Library are strong supporters of the Gittings Collection and buy GLBT materials and sponsor fundraising- events to keep the collection alive: firstname.lastname@example.org.