October is Canadian Library Month AND LGBTQ History Month, so let’s celebrate both!

It is both Canadian Library Month and LGBTQ history month (in the US, UK, and Canada); so to celebrate both of those together, I thought that this month I would shine a brief spotlight on some LGBTQ libraries in Canada as well some LGBTQ reference resources that can be found in Canadian Libraries. I originally wanted to write about the history of Canadian LGBTQ libraries and librarians and then realised that is going to be a topic that requires significantly longer to research in order to do it justice. Therefore, that will become a project for the future, and maybe a project I’d see if a colleague wants to work with me on.

Some LGBTQ Libraries and dedicated collections in Canada

The Pride Library at Western University, London ON

This is the first LGBTQ library to ever exist on a university campus in Canada. The collection has been around since 1997. They have a collection of over 10,000 volumes by and about lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transsexuals, and transgender people. Even though the Pride Library is located inside Western’s main library they are run independently of it, but their collection does circulate through them. The Pride Library doesn’t receive any funding from the university (via History of the Pride Library), they rely completely on donations. In 2004, Toronto’s Glad Day Bookshop (Canada’s oldest LGBT bookstore) donated an entire collection of books to the Pride Library, and that’s just one of five donor collections at the library (via Donor Collections). They also house 1100+ titles of mid-1900s gay pulp fiction.

The ArQuives: Canada’s LGBTQ2+ Archives, Toronto ON

The ArQuives was established in 1973 to recover and preserve LGBTQ2+ histories (via Our Impact). Specifically, information and materials across all mediums that are by and about LGBTQ2+ people, primarily produced in or concerning Canada. They maintain a completely volunteer-run research library, international research files, and an international collection of LGBTQ2+ periodicals (via About The ArQuives). They offer tours, presentations, and exhibits such as their 2018 Queering Family Photography exhibit. As an archive, it’s important to remember that their collection is non-circulating so if you wanted to see the posters and movies and books that they’ve got, you’ll need to make your way to Toronto.

The Open Book Library at the Montreal LGBTQ+ Community Centre, Montreal QC

This is the only collection of its kind, centred on issues related to sexual diversity in Quebec. Founded in 1991, they have a 12,000+ volume collection which includes documentaries, a variety of novels, essays, cartoons, movies and periodicals relating in any way to the realities of the Quebec LGBTQ+ community (via Information about the Open Book Library).

The Transgender Archives at the University of Victoria, Victoria BC

Founded in 2007, the archive continues to actively acquire documents, rare publications, and memorabilia of persons and organizations associated with activism by and for trans, non-binary, and Two-Spirit people. They began with a donation from the Rikki Swin Institute collection and have since received other significant donations including the personal papers of Reed Erickson, the entire University of Ulster Trans-Gender Archive collection, and the records of Zenith Foundation of Vancouver Canada. Their records span the length of 1.5 football fields and go back over 120 years. They contain material in 15 languages from 23 countries on six continents. This is the largest trans archives in the world. (via the Transgender Archives home page)

The Manitoba Gay and Lesbian Archives at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg MB

The Manitoba Gay and Lesbian Archives is a digital archival collection maintained by the Archives at the University of Manitoba Libraries. These collections feature over 75,000 digitized items including correspondence, photos, books, newspapers, and film. The Manitoba Gay and Lesbian Archives is one of four archives in their human rights collection (via About UM Digital Collections). This collection looks at the Winnipeg LGBTTQ community between the 1960s to the late 1990s (via the Manitoba Gay and Lesbian Archives digital collection).

The Pride Collection at the Yorkville Branch of the Toronto Public Library, Toronto ON

The Toronto Public Library’s pride collection was established in May 1991 and moved to its current location at the Yorkville Branch in 1996. To this day it remains the largest circulating collection of LGBTQ2S+ materials in Canada featuring 3,500 adult, teen, and children’s titles in multiple formats (books, DVDs, and magazines). It also has a dedicated team of staff to maintain and develop the collection (via The Pride Collection).

The Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto, Toronto ON

As part of the University of Toronto, this research centre makes liberal use of the large quantity of LGBTQ+ resources in the University of Toronto’s library collections (incidentally the third-largest academic library collection in North America). The mission of the centre is to explore, analyze, and challenge the ways in which sexuality shapes people’s lives through interdisciplinary scholarship. To that end, they have two dedicated collections of their own that are independent of the University of Toronto’s library collections.  First is the Giard archive at The Art Museum at University of Toronto. This is a digital collection of photographic portraits done by famed LGBTQ photographer Robert Girard (via The Girard Collection). They also collect and maintain what they call the Sexual Representation Collection, which is Canada’s largest university-based collection of pornography (via The Sexual Representation Collection).

Some LGBTQ reference resources available in Canadian Libraries

For my reference and information services course this semester, I had to write a review of a reference source that compared it with two other resources that were on the same topic. I ended up choosing and reviewing The SAGE Encyclopedia of LGBTQ Studies (2016), which I compared to LGBTQ America an Encyclopedia (2009), and the Global Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) History (2019). All three of these are around in library collections across Canada, and they should be in more of them because that are all valuable resources to have and complement one another well.

61aFYtYyPBL._SX346_BO1,204,203,200_LGBTQ America an Encyclopedia
John C. Hawley (editor)

  • 3 volumes
  • 1,5000 pages
  • available in both physical and ebook formats
  • published in 2009
  • Publisher’s overview:  
    The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer culture is a vibrant and rapidly evolving segment of the American mosaic. This book gives students and general readers a current guide to the people and issues at the forefront of contemporary LGBTQ America. Included are more than 600 alphabetically arranged entries on literature and the arts, associations and organizations, individuals, law and public policy concerns, health and relationships, sexual issues, and numerous other topics. Entries are written by distinguished authorities and cite works for further reading. The encyclopedia closes with a selected, general bibliography. Students in social studies, history and literature classes will welcome this book’s illumination of American cultural diversity.LGBTQ Americans have endured many struggles, and during the last decade, in particular, they have made tremendous contributions to our multicultural society. Drawing on the expertise of numerous expert contributors, this book gives students and general readers a current overview of contemporary LGBTQ American culture.Sweeping in scope, the encyclopedia looks at literature and the arts, associations and organizations, individuals, law and public policy concerns, health and relationships, sexual practices, and various other areas. While extensive biographical entries give readers a sense of the lives of prominent lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Americans, the many topical entries provide full coverage of the challenges and contributions for which these people are known. The encyclopedia supports the social studies curriculum by helping students learn about cultural diversity, and it supports the literature curriculum by helping students learn about LGBTQ writers and their works.

the-sage-encyclopedia-of-lgbtq-studiesThe SAGE Encyclopedia of LGBTQ Studies
Abbie E. Goldberg (editor)

  • 3 volumes
  • 1,480 pages
  • available in both physical and ebook formats
  • published in 2016
  • Publisher’s Overview:This far-reaching and contemporary new Encyclopedia examines and explores the lives and experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) individuals, focusing on the contexts and forces that shape their lives.The work focuses on LGBTQ issues and identity primarily through the lenses of psychology, human development and sociology, emphasizing queer, feminist and ecological perspectives on the topic, and addresses questions such as:1. What are the key theories used to understand variations in sexual orientation and gender identity?
    2. How do Gay-Straight Alliances (GSA) affect LGBTQ youth?
    3. How do LGBTQ people experience the transition to parenthood?
    4. How does sexual orientation intersect with other key social locations, such as race, to shape experience and identity?
    5. What are the effects of marriage equality on sexual minority individuals and couples?Top researchers and clinicians contribute to the 400 signed entries, from fields such as psychology, human development, gender/queer studies, sexuality studies, social work, and sociology.

gvrl_frontlist_academic_encyclopedialgbtqhistory_coverGlobal Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) History
Howard Chiang, Anjali Arondekar, Marc Epprecht, Jennifer Evans, Ross G. Forman, Hanadi Al-Samman, Emily Skidmore, Zeb Tortorici (editors)

  • 3 volumes
  • 1,500 pages
  • available in both physical and ebook formats
  • published in 2019
  • Publisher’s Overview:The Global Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History will provide a global view of the history of LGBTQ, covering significant figures and events worldwide. Wide-ranging in scope, this encyclopedia complements courses in a variety of disciplines, including history, American studies, literature, psychology, sociology and others. Features include a thematic outline and a comprehensive index.
    Includes substantial coverage of nearly 70 countries, with additional countries represented throughout the encyclopedia. Entries are peer-reviewed and written by academics from around the world, with nearly half the entries written by international contributors, representing 35 different countries. The content is far more substantive than the average encyclopedia, with entries averaging 4,000 words each. Also included are over 315 full-colour photos, illustrations, and graphs. The encyclopedia features abundant cross-references to help readers make connections between entries and a general index to offer access to places, subjects, titles, and proper names mentioned within the text.


In addition to being a Contributing Writer here at Hack Library School, Lauren (she/her) is currently working towards her MLIS part-time, online, through the University of Alberta, she expects to graduate in Spring 2022. She holds an honours BA in English/Religion & Culture and a BEd, both from Wilfrid Laurier University. Her interests are copyright, open education; accessibility; and diversity, equity, and inclusion in LIS. Lauren is the Copyright and Reserves Supervisor at Wilfrid Laurier University, serving on the Library’s Accessibility Committee, and the Student Advisory Council. She also co-hosts a bi-weekly Twitter chat on library issues and trends (#lisprochat) and is a research assistant on the Opening Up Copyright project. Find her: @rendages, @lisprochat | about.me/laurenbourdages

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