lesbrarian buttons

lesbrarian flag

Several years ago I decided I wanted to get a group of lesbrarians together for the Dyke March. The night before the Dyke March I used some paint from the dollar store on a sheet to make a Venn diagram illustrating the overlap between lesbian and librarian. That photo has gone around the internet a few times now, been included as an entry in Urban Dictionary, shown up in Questionable Content, an awesome webcomic. This year I wanted something different and Kathleen Jacques agreed to design something new.

I picked up the buttons for this year’s Vancouver Dyke March the other night and I love them. Designers like her are amazing–the final design was better than anything I could’ve articulated.

Here’s some of her explanation about the design choices she made:

What do you think of this Lesbrarians family? It struck me that, if there are going to be multiples for buttons (and potential other uses), it’d be cool to have versions with splashes of solid color so that they kind of do a rainbow as a set. I ended up with five: three shushers and two book-lurkers. My general idea is that it’s a family with a unified visual identity, but with flexibility within it. I think I like the black lineart/color background better than the solid colored ones…what do you think?

My rationale for the font goes like so:

  1. the condensed narrowness lets the word be a little bigger in small spaces, yet it’s still easy to read
  2. the ALLCAPS makes a punchy rectangular form that’s easy to fit and stack and curve in various ways
  3. the slab serif is kind of reminiscent of old typewriter or book text, but the font itself is a contemporary design (and an independent one that’s available for free, which is cool)
butchy book peeper

curly haired profile shusher with book

green two-tone hair profile shusher

blue shushy McBunheadhalf shaved baby dyke book peeper

lesbrarian text button

I was super happy with Chris Bentzen‘s button making. He was fast, inexpensive and they look great. Also, he lives in my neighbourhood so it was really convenient for me.

I’ll be selling buttons for $1 each to recouperate  the money in paying for the design and the cost of getting the buttons made. At some point I’ll make an online store and also have tshirts and bookbags, but if you want some now  get in touch.

Happy Pride!

Revenge of the Feminerd: Libraries, Lesbrarians, Censorship, and Equality

I was recently interviewed by Jarrah Hodge for her Revenge of the Feminerd series on the Bitch blog. I’ve been a huge fan of Bitch magazine since their first issue, so this was pretty exciting (read: I nearly wet my pants when she asked me).

The interview started with the lesbrarians, and veered off into intellectual freedom, community development, and classification.

Go on, go read it

Lesbrarians, vol. 2 – final report

Tash, volunteer at Spartacus Books, representing anarchist infoshops

This year’s Vancouver Dyke March started almost on time, which had me scrambling to finish introducing the new lesbrarians. Public, academic, and special libraries were represented (library workers, technicians, librarians, managers, Qmunity library volunteers), along with archives, infoshops, nerdy academics/researchers, and library school students. Two French lesbrarians joined us, one who wants to spread the lesbrarian word to France, Belgium and Spain. Someone who I studied with timed her visit back from Austin, TX so she could march with us. We started the march with about 20 people, and finished with about 30.

Venn diagrams are awesome

Along the way we did some synchronized shushing at the intersections, which resulted in laugher and cheers from the crowds. Our community loves lesbrarians. Along the route we met a cute man in a Powell’s bookstore t-shirt who bubbled that he was a-gay-librarian-from-San-Francisco-omg-this-is-so-awesome. A self-identified “fag library technician” left us a little love on our Facebook wall.

The booklists were also a huge hit. Kelly McElroy, a newly minted librarian, created new booklists, including one for youth and families. Queer and queer-positive families loved them. Perhaps next year we’ll add a list of non-English books for families. All the booklists (PDF) were gone before we arrived at the park. (Note to self: next year print twice as many as I think we’ll need).

Happy Pride! Join us next year for Lesbrarians, no. 3, vol. 1?

Download this year’s booklist – from Kelly McElroy (PDF)

Download lesbrarian badges – from Terra Poirier (PDF)

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