INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Indianapolis will be home to one of the largest collections of LGBTQ+ archives in the United States for a public library. It's a partnership between Indy Pride, Inc. and the Indianapolis Public Library. The Chris Gonzalez Library and Archives is home to over 7,000 titles specific to the LGBTQ+ community.
Thursday was moving day at the library. Boxes are being loaded up filled with important research, books and LGBTQ+ history. The books are being brought to Central Library where a permanent exhibit and display case will be located.
“The library and archives were started when people were diagnosed with HIV and suffering from AIDS donated their books and private collections,” said Chris Handberg with Indy Pride, Inc.
In a press release, the two organizations stated:
“The library and archive is named after Chris Gonzalez, the community activist and founder of Indiana Youth Group who passed away in 1994. For over 30 years, the collection has been curated by Michael Bohr, who retired from this position in the summer of 2018. Upon much community discussion, it was determined the future of the Chris Gonzalez Library and Archives should reside at Central Library."
Deb Lambert is the Director of Collection Management there. She says the library wants to be a voice for all people.
“Diversity and different voices is something we’ve been focusing on for collection development,” said Lambert.
Over the next several months, the collection will be looked through, catalogued and integrated into Central Library. That way, visitors will be able to find and search for what they are looking for.
“We have young adult novels, we have fiction, we have non-fiction. We have health books that may not be accessible to the vast amount of people,” said Handberg.
There will also be a permanent display case in the Simon Reading Room for library visitors to check out a bulletin of LGBTQ+ events happening around the city.
This new partnership wants library visitors to read between the lines. This is more than just about books.
“It can feel a little lonely, that you’re not really understood or that you really don’t connect with people in your community. To have these resources and to have a place where you can go and safely access material that you could connect with, that makes you feel a little less alone is vital to our community,” said Handberg.
Organizers hope to turn the page to a new diverse chapter.
“We are forward thinking, and we’ve always been a voice for all people,” said Lambert.
The Chris Gonzalez Library and Archives should be fully moved and ready for visitors at Central Library located in downtown Indianapolis by fall of 2019. Indy Pride, Inc. and The Indianapolis Public Library are looking forward to hosting an event at that time to celebrate the opening of this new exhibit.