This article, by Angharad Daly, was originally published in the Arizona Daily Star, opens a new window on December 19, 2021.
I’ve always been a “library kid”. Ever since I can remember, my mom brought me to the library. We attended Storytimes at Dusenberry-River Library, we participated in the Summer Learning Program, and most of all, we checked out books. Every week, we returned an armload of books and took another.
My mother has always believed that the most important thing about reading is just that people are reading at all. So as a child, my mom didn’t make any rules about what books my sibling or I could check out. The library didn’t, either—and still doesn’t. Every child entering the library meets a world of possibilities and we work hard every day not to put any restrictions on that.
I don’t remember everything I read, but I do distinctly remember the first time I picked up a book that really spoke to me—to me, as a young LGBTQ+ person just exploring what that meant. I was sitting cross legged on the floor in the teen section of Dusenberry-River Library, pulling every book off the shelf, reading the back cover, and then either putting it back or adding it to a growing pile beside me. It was because I was going through every single book like this that I first picked it up: a slim little volume with an unassuming title, about a group of LGBTQ+ students at a school that wasn’t accepting of them, and their efforts to carve out a space for themselves. I quickly added it to my pile.
The book itself is outdated now, but I still have a soft spot for it and a fond memory of the library that led me to it. I knew then that I wanted everyone to have that feeling, although it wasn’t for another ten years that I realized I could be part of making it happen.
When I started working at the library, I found out that there’s been an LGBTQ+ Services Committee, opens a new window here for longer than it’s been since I picked up that book. They were founded in 1997, and I probably don’t have to tell you that the 90s were not an easy time to be LGBTQ+, especially in Arizona. It made me feel good to know that the place I worked for had been working for people like me all this time.
So I got involved.
I joined the American Library Association’s Rainbow Book List, whose purpose is to evaluate and recommend quality LGBTQ+ literature aimed at people ages 0-18. The Rainbow Book List is formed of members from all over the country, but my managers here at PCPL have supported me every step of the way. They even got me a whole new bookshelf in my workspace to store all the books I was getting for the project! You can check out all of our recommendations here: https://glbtrt.ala.org/rainbowbooks/, opens a new window .
I asked our library to buy a whole bunch of LGBTQ+ books we didn’t have. When we closed for the pandemic, I wrote lists of books that I loved and published them on our website. When we were open again, I pressed them into patrons’ hands with a smile. I joined the LGBTQ+ Services Committee and celebrated when we put on the first virtual author talk in the committee’s history. I made hundreds of pride bookmarks and gave them out at our library’s front desk. I hosted a display of Made for Flight kites (which honor transgender people who have been murdered) for Transgender Day of Remembrance. I crafted a tissue paper rainbow and cut out little pictures of LGBTQ+ book covers and prominent LGBTQ+ citizens for our display cubes at the front door of the library.
Every day, I work to send the message that I found so valuable all those years ago: We see you. You belong. You matter. You’re welcome here.
Angharad Daly (they/them) is a Young Adult Librarian at Miller-Golf Links Library. In addition to serving on the LGBTQ+ Services Committee, they are a member of the Ravenous Readers Team. They recently celebrated their 5th anniversary with Pima County Public Library.