GSLIS master’s student Lucas McKeever recently received an Acorn Scholarship for volunteerism and community activism from the Acorn Equality Fund, a grassroots organization that supports gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered students and their allies in downstate Illinois. The $3,000 scholarship was presented to McKeever at the 14th Annual Acorn Equality Fund Breakfast on December 1, 2012.
McKeever was recognized for his work as an intern with the Uniting Pride (UP) Center of Champaign County, a resource center directed at furthering the well-being and development of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and ally (LGBTQA) community. The UP Center is one of five community organizations partnering with the IMLS-funded project Mix IT Up!, which is administered by GSLIS and aims to increase the information technology skills of youth and library school students and to position library and information services at the center of dynamic student-community partnerships.
Since January 2012, McKeever has helped to make the UP Center’s resources more easily accessible through a file management system and librarything.com account. He also has initiated an oral history project in partnership with the Champaign County Historical Archives. After noticing gaps in information on the local history of the LGBTQ community as well as a lack of personal stories, he began recording interviews, which will be stored in the archives, in order to document the experiences of local LGBTQ individuals.
“The queer community in Champaign-Urbana has been very receptive to this project,” McKeever said. “Not only have many great individuals come forward in hopes to share their stories and struggles with future generations, but they have also told their peers. To date, I have conducted electronic interviews with individuals in Chicago, New Hampshire, and New York who may have physically left the community, but whose efforts and experiences have helped shape the area into what it is today.” He is hoping to have completed twenty one-hour interviews by 2013.
Along with his work with the UP Center, McKeever has presented on the queer history of Champaign-Urbana at the annual conferences of the American Library Association and the Illinois Library Association as well as the third annual Champaign County PRIDE Festival.