“I was hummed with a building excitement. I was a beast in the library. Libraries are safe but also exciting. Libraries are where nerds like me go to refuel. They are safe-havens where the polluted noise of the outside world... is shut out.”
-Juliet Takes a Breath, Gabby Rivera
I love this quote from Gabby Rivera’s novel because I think anyone who loves to read can relate to its accuracy. Personally, I have always sought out libraries for my self-care routines, as a way to settle my headspace and recharge. Securing a reliable self-care routine and finding safe spaces are two essential pieces of life’s complicated puzzle, especially for anyone who experiences feelings of otherness or exclusion. For this reason, members of the LGBTQ+ community often look to these safe spaces as a means to feel included. It is important for us to have someplace to go where we can feel comfortable to be ourselves. We need a place that allows us to be free from judgment and from feeling like an outsider. As Rivera’s quote highlights, this is why libraries can serve as such a reliable safe space.
But the need for an LGBTQ+ presence in libraries means more than just having community members in that space. The beauty of finding a safe space often includes the satisfaction of seeing oneself reflected in the space itself: in the people, the discussions, the art, and, in the case of libraries… the books!
At the HPA, we’re working on our annual Accio Books campaign to help build libraries full of incredible books that offer intersectional representations of many communities. We want everyone to be able to find a book at their favorite library and see themselves accurately represented in the story. We want to encourage everyone to share books written by and about the LGBTQ+ community, communities of color, people who are disabled or neurodivergent or undocumented. And I’ve got some great news for you — you can help make that a reality, worldwide.
During our Accio Books campaign, we encourage you to donate your favorite books to readers all over the world. We want LGBTQ+ kids in Rwanda to read books that prove they’re not alone. We want community centers everywhere from Tuscaloosa to Tokyo to be filled with books that tell the amazing stories by and about trans, nonbinary, and asexual people. The HPA can help make that happen.
We all have our “happy place.” For some it may be the beach, the museum, or Central Park. For some folks, it’s the library. It’s important for all of us — community members and allies together — to do our part in making these safe spaces as accessible as possible. Let’s remember to share stories that celebrate those who need to find themselves reflected in the shelves. Let’s be sure to recognize all intersections of the LGBTQ+ community. Let’s work to support libraries and help them be even more inclusive, comfortable, and safe for all witches, wizards, and magical folks.
Jessica’s current Muggle job is Communications & Marketing Associate at Point Foundation. Find this Hufflepuff on the internet at @jessicarozycki.