Jul 18, 2023 - Education

Scoop: Boston locals fundraise for LGBTQ+ library

Illustration of a library due date card with the names of queer authors and activists written in rainbow colors.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Boston could soon get its first nonprofit library created by and for LGBTQ+ locals, according to plans first shared with Axios.

Driving the news: The few spaces in Boston that cater to LGBTQ+ people tend to prioritize drinking and dancing. QT Library aims to create a free, sober haven for all ages to enjoy books, art and LGBTQ+ culture, QT's board president Jake Stepansky tells Axios.

  • The space, which plans to launch by June 2024, would include zines, poetry, children and young adult sections and more, says Emily Talley, the library’s executive director.

Why it matters: The community effort comes as the nation has seen an unprecedented push to ban books with LGBTQ+ themes.

  • There were at least 45 challenges to 57 books at Massachusetts schools and libraries last year, up from 9 challenges to 10 books in 2021, per data from American Library Association.

The big picture: Opponents challenged more than 2,571 books at American public schools and libraries in 2022, a 38% increase from 2021, Axios' Sareen Habeshian reported.

Zoom out: LGBTQ+ archival libraries and collections have popped up nationwide, but QT Library would become one of the few standalone, non-archival LGBTQ+ libraries in the U.S.

What they’re saying: "People contain multitudes in this world. People want spaces that they can go to to party, and people want spaces they can go to to be quiet," Stepansky says.

Zoom in: More than 75 volunteers have joined to help launch QT alongside its core, eight-person team.

  • Someone in Boston’s poetry scene has offered to curate a poetry collection that features local poets.
  • Others have suggested queer movie nights and a dress-up closet so people can try on gender-affirming clothing, Stepansky says.

Of note: The founders are still scoping out a home, but they plan to select an accessible brick-and-mortar space within city limits.

What we're watching: The team launched an all-or-nothing Kickstarter campaign to raise a first round of $50,000 by July 31, meaning QT Library either reaches its goal by then or returns the money to donors.

  • They're also looking into grant funding, Talley says.
  • The campaign raised $32,000 as of Monday afternoon.
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