This past Sunday July 12, Western Libraries’ faculty, staff, friends, and family came together in celebration of “Bellingham Pride,” something they have done each year since 2013. Representing Western Libraries in the parade and hosting a table at the festival has become an annual tradition that many at the Libraries look forward to and enjoy.
“Three years ago, the Western Libraries Diversity Committee felt it was important for us to have a presence at Bellingham Pride to show our support of our students and our community as a whole,” explained Western Libraries Circulation staff member, Amy Sedovic. Sedovic first marched in the parade with her friends in the Whatcom County Library System back in 2009. She noted that this was during the budget crisis, and that they carried a banner that read “Yes Libraries.”
“I was so amazed and happy to hear people cheering specifically for libraries, shouting things like, ‘I love the library!’” said Sedovic. She explained how libraries are seen as “open, welcoming, and affirming places,” and that she feels honored to be a part of that tradition.
As explained by the American Libraries Association (ALA), Libraries can serve LGBTQ people by ensuring that they are represented in library collections and provided with library services. They also note that as a population which frequently faces discrimination and harassment, LGBTQ people can benefit from access to information and the sense of community libraries provide. Librarian Rebecca Marrall explained that she looks forward to the festival every year because of the chance to connect with the community and raise awareness about the Libraries’ historical and archival collections that feature regional LGBTQ narratives.
“I love this event because we meet community members who can see themselves in our collections. Plus, we’re celebrating happiness. Who doesn’t love that?” Marrall asked.
Archivist at the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies Ruth Steele agreed with Marrall that Bellingham Pride is a wonderful occasion to showcase some of the unique materials that many people are unaware exist or are unsure of how to access.
“I love the opportunity to help represent Western and Western Libraries at Bellingham Pride,” explained Steele. “Heritage Resources houses some rich LGBTQ archival collections, and every year, we get to connect with individuals who are interested to find out more about these collections, and who later visit the archives as researchers, or contact us about LGBTQ records they would like to donate and see preserved for future generations.”
In addition to connecting with new community members, the festival also offers the Libraries a chance to see some familiar faces and reaffirm current connections.
“It’s also always a pleasure to revisit with long-time friends of the archives who stop by the Libraries’ table, and we are ever grateful for their support in helping to build and promote awareness of our collections,” Steele said.
Staff and faculty at Western Libraries anticipate increased participation in the Bellingham Pride events as enthusiasm for such an important and significant celebration grows. Sedovic encourages anyone at Western who is interested in joining the Libraries to walk with them in the parade next year and she reiterated that everyone is welcome.
For more information about the LGBTQ Archival and primary source materials at Western Libraries, contact Heritage.Resources@wwu.edu.
Heritage Resources is a division of Western Libraries which includes the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies, Special Collections, and the University Archives & Records Management. Together the three units provide for responsible stewardship of unique and archival materials in support of teaching, learning, and research.