The Lesbrarians

Lesbrarian badges/stickers

I thought it would be fun to organize people to march under the lesbrarian banner for the Vancouver Dyke March. I’ve met so many rad lesbian, bisexual and queer women working in libraries, I thought it would be fun to so something social and a bit silly together. Also, I thought it would be good to strengthen existing professional relationships and connect new people to the information sisterhood.

I wanted it to be inclusive of all lesbrarians, whether they work in libraries, archives, or other information organizations, whether they have a formal qualification or not. Soon I was getting emails from friends “I research and write policy papers, can I come too?”, “I love libraries, can I join you?”, and “I’m a software developer, am I geeky enough to join you ladies?” A couple of men, both gay and straight, were extremely supportive and excited and wanted to come too. Traditionally the dyke march is only women, so I explained that it probably wouldn’t be appropriate.

Lesbrarian Venn diagram

I made a banner that illustrates the place where lesbian and librarian overlap. Graphic designer and artist Terra Porrier made lesbrarian badges so that we could easily identify each other. By the end of the march there were about 20 of us: public librarians, corporate librarians, academic librarians, children’s librarians, an archivist/librarian, writers, web designers, a documentary film maker, and a software developer. I met about 10 other people in the park who were sad to have missed us–some current and future library school students, as well as some women I went to school with and have worked with in the past. I had no idea they were homos!

Hot lesbrarian shushing action

(Nicole Maunsell, Anne O’Shea, Faith Jones, and me looking rather threatening)

Using Facebook to quickly gather suggestions, Anne O’Shea whipped together a booklist of lesbrarian vetted books (PDF). Annotated even. This proved to be a big hit with the sidewalk crowds. I was surprised at how keen the motorcycle cops were to get a copy. All 150 copies were gone halfway through the short march. It was good to have something to give people and it was a great conversation starter. About 20 parents asked me for booklists targeted towards elementary and secondary school kids. Maybe next year.

Next year we hope to do this bigger and better. Perhaps Lesbrarians 2010 will include some fancy book truck manouvers, a lesbrarian reference desk in the park at the festival, or large paper mache sculptures. I’d like to continue playing with the librarian sterotypes while queering and updating them a bit. After all lesbrarians are about so much more than just books.

Please get in touch if you want to join us next year. If you have more photos of us, add a link in the comments.

Photo credits: the multitlalented Sarah Leavitt

More photos by Winnifred Tovey on Picasa

9 thoughts on “The Lesbrarians”

  1. You felt it was “inappropriate” for straight and gay men to come, even though the dyke march’s mission statement says:

    “The Festival is a free, fun, safe, celebratory, all-ages gathering of diverse queer women, performers, and allies, from within and beyond Vancouver.”

    I think these men might be considered “allies” and were therefore welcome at the event. though they may not have technically been “lesbrarians.”

  2. True, men can be allies. But in practice the last few years I’ve been, I have not seen men marching.

    Maybe we need to do something for the Gay Pride parade too…

  3. I seem to recall some time in the past few years when ALA was in town at the same time as the local Pride parade, that there was a librarian contingent in the main pride parade. (This is something I saw on the web, not something I attended.)

  4. David, this rings a bell with me too. I think it was when ALA was in San Francisco in 2001. I think the librarians might have been marching with a political statement, but I wasn’t there and my Google Fu is failing me right now.

  5. I was in that parade in SF — apparently it was back in 1997. My memory is not by any stretch of the imagination infallible, but the political message as far as I recall was something along the lines of “Look at this cool bookmobile!”

  6. Hey Tara
    This is a great post. I love the lesbrarian gang, and I think there is tons of potential for more theatrics next year. I personally am imagining a billboard that indexes the entire lesbian community. But perhaps my dreams are too big…

  7. Yes, there has been a librarian contengency in gay pride parades in cities where the parade and the ALA Conference have taken place at the same time. I can’t recall all of the times this has occurred but I know that it has occured several times in San Francisco and I believe that the two events have occurred in a couple of other cities as well but I don’t remember which ones. I wish I could give you some documentation, like a good librarian would but I am not taking the time to do that right now. I have been attending ALA Conferences since 1978 (way to long) and I do remember this happening a few times.

  8. I think you need a big lesbrarian desk on wheels, with one of the lesbrarians walking behind the desk on stilts, and some other lesbrians scooting around the head lesbrarian with book trucks. Yeah. Kind of like “The Rockettes” at Radio City Music Hall, only WAAAAY better…..!!

    I love the “shhhhh” photo.

    Ms. Tara – you are quite fierce. Very nice. I think Tyra would be proud!!!!

    xoxo Sugarlove Girl

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