The Center is celebrating the acquisition of nearly 500 LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning) themed books. Donations from several well-known librarians have resulted in quick growth for this genre within the Center's collection, making it the largest such collection of LGBTQ books for young readers in any library in the USA.
Michael Cart gave the initial 200+ books. Cart, who lives in Indiana, is the former director of the Beverly Hills Public Library. He is an author, editor, and leader in the American Library Association (ALA), where he received the Grolier Award for lifetime achievement in promoting literature for young people. He recently made headlines as an organized group worked to have his anthology Love and Sex: Ten Stories of Truth banned from a high school in Mount Holly, New York.
Cart's gift inspired a second donation of nearly 200 books, from his friend Kathleen Horning, director of the Cooperative Children's Book Center at the University of Wisconsin--Madison and author of From Cover to Cover: Evaluating and Reviewing Children's Books. Horning is a past president of both the Association for Library Services to Children and the United States Board on Books for Young People. She has served on many book award committees, including the Newbery Committee.
This new gift includes picture books, young adult novels, non-fiction, graphic novels, board books, anthologies, advance reading copies, and some bilingual and translated titles. The first book for children to depict LGBTQ issues appeared in 1967. Horning's gift includes Jesse's Dream Skirt (1979), the first picture book about a transgendered child, and the 1989 self-published edition of Heather has Two Mommies, which went on to trade publication and controversy. The 1980 picture book Oh, Boy! Babies!, which shows boys caring for babies, comes with recommendations from Dr. Spock and Abigail Van Buren, presumably to help adults cope with this revolutionary concept. Gloria Goes to Gay Pride and How Would You Feel if Your Dad was Gay?, both from 1991, are early picture books about lesbian and gay families. Newer titles include A Really Nice Prom Mess, Prama: What's a PROM without a little DRAMA?, and Fat Hoochie Prom Queen.
The gift also includes a collection of articles and early bibliographies on LGBTQ subjects. Thanks to librarian volunteer Tom Ebert, who completed a bibliography of these titles. The Center seeks the papers of authors, illustrators, and publishers of LGBTQ literature for young people. Please contact the Center if you would like to donate papers or to help with this project, making the Arne Nixon Center the primary national repository for this genre.
Nancy Silverrod, a librarian at the San Francisco Public Library, has also pledged books from her collection. Silverrod, a former youth services librarian, serves on the Association of Jewish Libraries Sydney Taylor Book Awards Committee. Previously she served on the ALA's GLBT Round Table's Stonewall Book Awards' Committee. The compiler of several LGBTQ bibliographies, she presented a workshop at the 2010 Gender Spectrum Conference on books for gender variant children and families.
At a time when harrassment, bullying, and suicides are affecting all of our communities, these books offer hope and understanding that "It gets better."