Making it Legal: A Guide to Same-Sex Marriage--I'll wrestle you for the chance to get my hands on a library copy .

My local library offers RSS feeds, including one of just-ordered nonfiction books. I love being able to subscribe to these and see what's being ordered.

Except when I don't: yesterday I saw that the library's ordering two copies of
Nolo's Making It Legal : A Guide to Same-Sex Marriage, Domestic Partnership and Civil Unions. Two copies. 26 libraries. Not two per library; two, period. In a major library system in a major metropolitan area. Not like gay marriage has been in the news lately or anything. We have 18 copies, for comparison, of Nolo's Patents for Beginners (product description: "Here's the primer every first-time inventor needs"), because there are nine times as many inventors in this metropolitan area as there are gay people interested in their legal rights.

But Emily, you say, Making it Legal is just one book. Surely the library has other books on gay couples' rights. Maybe they're only ordering two because the library already has plenty of resources on the topic!

True. The library system does own a copy of Nolo's 2007 A Legal Guide for Lesbian and Gay Couples.


An estimated 450,000 people (from a variety of sources with little discrepancy) attended the Twin Cities Pride Parade & Festival last year. Guess I better get my name on the holds list quick for the new Nolo.

[and yes, I have used official & proper channels before to express my dismay over the library's embarrassing # of GLBTQ-related books and to ask for more copies. A couple times. No dice. ]

One might think the public library would be ashamed at the need for the Quatrefoil Library in St. Paul, a GLBTQ resource outside of the public library system one needs to pay $35/year to use (but which has a decent selection of queer books & periodicals). I know it would be ashamed if such a library was needed for other groups represented by the Diversity Committee--it would be clear that the public library was not doing its job. We should not have to build our own libraries in order to have access to resources about our lives, ourselves, our rights. The next time someone asks me, "Why does there need to be something like Gay Pride? I don't go to a Straight Pride parade," one of my answers will be "We go to know that we exist, because our libraries tell us we don't."


Matthew said...

Wow. I am not gay, and I think I've met maybe two people I knew were gay, ever. Also, since I'm a Christian, I should probably apologize for any intolerance you've encountered at the hands of people who also call themselves Christians.

I don't always know exactly how to organize my thoughts about GLBTQ issues, because I've actually had thoughts similar to the "Straight Pride Parade" line of reasoning. It's easy to question & criticize things you don't understand, I guess.

At this point in my life, all I really know is that I find it silly & sad to think there's any argument about your existence. Quite frankly, with religion as a major point of reference for my life, I don't know what the heck God thinks about gays. But at this point in my life, I don't care, because it's not really my business. My business, religiously speaking, is to love everybody the same, because no one is any more or less valuable than anyone else.

Thing is, the last sentence of this post is the most compelling thing I've read regarding GLBTQ issues, maybe ever. Here's why: I LOVE libraries. Everything about them. And I hate when the people who run them do dumb stuff like order 2 copies of a book a LOT of people likely want--even need--to read.

Just when I was starting to slump, mentally, because my return to school and eventual career in the library field seems so far off, you write this post. Libraries have to do better, and I want to be a part of that.

Thanks, Emily. And I'm sorry; if I had money to throw around, I'd buy a bunch of copies to donate in your name.

(That was way longer than necessary. Sorry!)

Emily Lloyd said...

Hey, thanks for your comment. I too, LOVE libraries. And there are many things my local system does right. Even on GLBTQ issues, they do pretty well by gay teens, with YA fiction. It's as if, though, they think people stop being gay once they hit age 20. There are, of course, more out gay folks of retiree age than ever before in this country. Demand for senior centers/care facilities where gay seniors can safely be themselves has significantly risen (see here: http://poesygalore.blogspot.com/2008/11/invisible-and-overlooked-gay-seniors-in.html). Etc. Practical legal guides, as well as guides to retirement, GLBTQ-friendly retirement communities, etc., should be in the collection, and not in token numbers, and not hopelessly-out-of-date.

As for donations: I'd be more than willing to purchase 26 copies of the book and donate them to the library--but the library won't add donations to the collection (this is not the case for all library systems: see if your local library can enter donations into their collection!).

As for pride parades: yeah, I get that it's hard to understand. A coworker asked me the other day (in response to actress Kelly McGillis coming out) why people felt they had to come out or be out: she [coworker] didn't ever publicly tell people she was straight, so why did gay people have to? I asked her to imagine that everyone she had ever met assumed she was gay. That every new person she would meet would assume the same thing. That people always asked why she didn't have a girlfriend or where her wife was or when she was going to get gay-married or commented that she "needed to find the right girl." That she had a male partner, but the only boxes to check on her taxes were "single" or "gay-married." That she could not provide her partner with medical benefits through her job because heterosexual partnerships weren't recognized. That closeted teen heterosexuals were taking their lives at a significantly higher rate than gay teens. That heterosexuals were getting bullied at school, and so on. The thing is, being gay isn't just about sexuality, or even mostly about sexuality--it's bigots who MAKE it about sexuality (who MAKE us have to "come out and fight" because, well, we need some legal rights). For me, especially in this economy, being gay has mostly been about not being able to provide my partner with health insurance or claim married status on my taxes. I can't tell you how much easier our lives would be financially AND emotionally if I could do that.

Matthew said...

That's a long list of things I'm sure most straight people, including myself, have never thought about. Nietzsche was right: we all think we're the center of all reality, and our prejudices, both positive and negative, are aligned accordingly.

For all the people who are happy in their ignorance and bigotry, though, I hope it helps you some to think that there are people who are trying to move beyond stereotypes of right & wrong, ingrained though they may be. I count myself in the latter group, and I'm not the only one--here's hoping we can make things better. Making it legal would be a start, yes?

Also, I'm sure they have some kind of reason, but your library system not accepting donations strikes me as absurd and the exact wrong stance. Sigh...