Gulfport Library plans to create LGBT resource center

By : Greg Stemm
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Gulfport – The nonprofit Circle of Friends of the Gulfport Public Library announced its intention to create a LGBTQ Resource Center at the Library. The project brings together books, periodicals and other media in a special collection to serve as a community resource for Pinellas County and Florida. The Resource Center would be the first of its kind for a public library in the State of Florida.

“Every library in Pinellas County has adopted a certain specialty,” said Roger Turner, chairman of the subcommittee. “Because Gulfport has such a large LGBT community — and because as far as we know there are no other public libraries in the state with a dedicated commitment to building and maintaining a large collection of LGBT-themed work — we think this is an appropriate thing for our library and our community.”
A subcommittee of the Circle of Friends formed to chart a course toward developing and maintaining the LGBT collection. The subcommittee is now actively seeking donations of books, CDs, DVDs, periodicals and other media which may be useful additions to the new archive. The subcommittee is made up of seven members of the public, two library staff members and two representatives of the Circle of Friends subcommittee.
Turner said he believes all seven members from the public are also members of the LGBT community, not a surprising percentage in a city that the latest census figures show has about a third of its population who identify as LGBT.

“The works may be fiction or nonfiction, and we are hoping eventually to build a collection of LGBT-themed DVDs and musical CDs featuring gay and lesbian artists,” said Turner. “We actually have had only one meeting so far so we are still in the planning stages, but we are hopeful that eventually we will be able to build a very extensive collection of materials that will be free and available to the public. We are particularly hoping to be a resource for young people who might be questioning their own identity or need support.”

The materials will all be held in one specific dedicated spot in the library and identified as the LGBTQ Resource Center.

“The Gulfport Library is actually going through some extensive renovations right now and the renovation plans include dedicated space for the new materials,” said Turner.
Turner said he was uncertain of how many materials the Gulfport Library already has and it will be the subcommittee’s job to sort through what existing works should be included.

Donated items should be in new or gently used condition. Members of the public interested in donating materials may bring or send them to the front desk of the Gulfport Public Library (5501 28th Avenue South, Gulfport, FL 33707). Please label donations accordingly if they are specifically intended for the LGBTQ collection. Committee members reserve the right to add donated items to their book sales inventory for fund-raising if items are not suitable for the collection.

Monetary donations are also welcome and are tax-deductible. For this purpose, the library asks that donors make checks payable to the Circle of Friends of the Gulfport Public Library and note that the donation is intended for the LGBTQ Collection.

For more information, please contact Committee Chairperson Roger Turner at 727-698-7657 or RLTurner39@tampabay.rr.com.

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