Master’s students represent QLA, lead workshop at ally conference

GSLIS master’s students Jessica Colbert and Annabella Irvine will participate in the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference (MBLGTACC) this week, where they will lead a workshop on locating LGBT materials in libraries and will represent the GSLIS student group, Queer Library Alliance (QLA). Held annually, the interdisciplinary conference is organized by students and is the largest event of its kind in the country. MBLGTACC 2016 will be held at Purdue University on February 19-21.

The workshop, "Finding Ourselves in the Library: Locating LGBT Materials in Libraries,” was developed by Colbert and fellow GSLIS MS/LIS student Brittany Craig.

Abstract: This workshop serves to assist students in pursuit of queer literatures, histories, and other LGBTQIA-related library materials. Libraries have been a hub for marginalized populations, particularly those of lower-income levels, to access information. Despite being free, though, library materials are not always accessible due to challenges with finding them. Through an intersectional approach, libraries and librarians can improve information access. This workshop will provide search assistance, covering subject terms and keyword searches that follow Library of Congress subject headings....As progressive and queer librarians, we believe that subject headings should reflect the identifications used by queer communities themselves, but the reality is that library materials are still classified under terms and headings that may not be intuitive to the queer researcher or reader. This workshop breaks down why these headings exist and how to use existing headings to find queer-representational materials.

“With this workshop, we aim to show others the language that is used [in library catalogs], and also some ways to make their own collections and catalogs better,” said Colbert.  “As librarians and information professionals, the QLA believes it is our duty to help educate people about issues like this, as well as to show nonlibrarians that not every librarian they encounter will be an ‘outsider’—some of us are just like them and have gone through the same struggles and oppressions. Hopefully this will encourage more people to use their librarians, because that anxiety and fear might be lessened.”

“If people leave the workshop and are able to find materials about LGBT topics more easily, then I think that is a victory for everyone involved. We want to empower people,” she said.

Earlier this year, Colbert presented on this topic at BOBCATSSS, an international, student-led LIS symposium. Her poster, “The Search that Dare Not Speak Its Name: LGBT Information and Catalog Records,” received the event’s best poster award.

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