PLIG/LGBTQ Journal Club Sept. 20

Hi everyone,

We’re excited to team up with the Public Libraries Interest Group to kick off their first journal club! Posted here is information about the event, links to the articles, and discussion questions.

Do you love research? Would you like an opportunity to meet and discuss
public library interest topics with your peers?
The BCLA Public Libraries Interest Group (PLIG) is pleased to introduce
the PLIG Journal Club, an informal “reading club” where you can engage
in dialogue about professional literature on selected topics.

PLIG Journal Club #1 with co-host BCLA LGBTQ Interest Group
Thursday, September 20, 2018, 7:00-9:00 pm
Pollyanna Library: 100-221 E Georgia St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1Z6
Everyone is welcome. Light snacks provided and cash wine bar available.

Watch for information about sessions, topics, articles, and remote participation.
Gillian Bassett, Sara Ellis, Marisa Tutt
PLIG Journal Club organizers

Articles to Read and Discuss

Dawn Betts-Green, Don Latham. “Drawing Queerness: Evaluating Notable LGBTQ Graphic Novels for Teens.” The Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults, vol. 8, no. 2, Dec. 2017, pp. 1–23.

Stevens, Gregg A. “Curry’s Study on the Quality of Public Library Reference Service to LGBTQ Youth.” Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, vol. 13, no. 1, 2018, pp. 57–63.

Discussion Questions

We’ll have additional questions to get us talking at the event. To start, consider the following:

  • Does the article present a clearly focused issue?
  • Does the article present a valid representation of the topic? Consider how the research was performed and/or sources presented.
  • Do conclusions made by the author accurately reflect their analysis/discussion? If not, what more do we need to know?
  • Does the article shed light on any gaps or limitations in current knowledge and/or practice?
  • How might you use this information to inform your work?

Feel free to share your thoughts online as well! Comment on this post or tweet @BCLA_LGBTQ using the tag #BCLAjournalclub

Referral Resources for Physical Health and Well-being

As informational professionals, one of our most powerful roles is as referral specialists, connecting patrons with resources, organizations and professionals that can provide the specialized help and support we cannot.

For LGBTQ+ patrons, finding medical information that is both reliable and respectful can unfortunately be challenging. Fortunately there are specialized online and in-person resources designed specifically to meet the medical needs of the LGBTQ+ community.

Here are just a few health-related resources designed to serve the LGBTQ+ community.

National LGBT Health Education Center

“The National LGBT Health Education Center provides educational programs, resources, and consultation to health care organizations with the goal of optimizing quality, cost-effective health care for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.” This American organization offers free publications, webinars, and a list of recommended reading and resources, both for individuals and for organizations that support better health for LGBTQ+ patients.

Rainbow Health Care

Rainbow Health Care was designed to meet “the need to do more research to document, understand, and address the various factors that contribute to health disparities in the LGBT community.” It offers articles and recommended resources. Examples of valuable articles include “10 Things Transgender Individuals Should Discuss with Their Healthcare Provider”, and “Lesbian and Bisexual Health Fact Sheet”.

UBC Faculty of Medicine Youth Sexual Health Team

Looking for an organization or resource in British Columbia? Links to more than 10 organizations have been aggregated into a single listing, making it quick and easy to refer patrons to valuable services and information.

Transgender Health Information Program

The “Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) is responsible for the provincial coordination of transgender health services in BC. The Transgender Health Information Program (THiP) is a BC-wide information hub providing information about gender affirming care and supports.”

Catherine White Holman Wellness Center

This non-profit organization works “to provide low-barrier wellness services to transgender and gender non-conforming people in a way that is respectful and celebratory of clients’ identity and self-expression.”

Health Initiatives for Men

“HIM involves and engages gay men to improve foundations of their physical, sexual, social and mental health through research-based, community-minded, volunteer-driven activities. Their materials and programs are for adults and deal with gay sexuality positively and explicitly.”

OPT: Options for Sexual Health

OPT clinics “offer sexual and reproductive health care, information, and education from a feminist, pro-choice, sex positive perspective.” While not specifically directed towards LGBTQ+ individuals, the organization is committed to inclusive, confidential, sex-positive health information for all British Columbians.


In addition to being a valuable resource for LGBTQ+ individuals in the Lower Mainland, Qmunity offers a referral service that can help connect patrons to other information and service providers.

Are there any great physical health resources we should add to the list?



You Belong @ Your Library: LGBTQ+ & Allies Youth Group

You Belong is a weekly, ongoing, after-school drop-in program designed and facilitated by Toronto Public Library Youth Services Librarian Sepideh Mckensy to provide an inclusive and welcoming space for LGBTQ+ young people in the suburbs outside Toronto. The group host one creative LGBTQ+ guest speaker or fabulously fun event every month. Youth get the opportunity, along with their peers, to select and plan the events, create displays, design fliers and be a part of the promotion. This is an opportunity for youth with shared values to network, have fun and make a difference!


In terms of a general overview, the program is structured so that each month the group works towards hosting one big event or guest speaker.  The youth work together to prepare for this event or speaker, advertise, put up displays in the library, prepare decoration and plan.

Some examples of events the group has organized include:

An LGBTQ+ Film festival – in partnership with the local LGBTQ+ film organization Inside Out the group showed films all month long.

Queer Prom (Food, dancing, balloons)

(Here is a link for the local newspaper article they did on this event

In Toronto most LGBTQ+ organizations are located downtown, so the group makes an effort to get all those organizations to come out to a more suburban branch and do satellite programming or guest speaking engagements where they talk about their organizations, so that all those that cannot travel downtown or that never even knew they existed can be better connected.


This type of programming can take a long time to get off the ground – facilitators need to build trust in youth. It can be hard for word to get around since advertising can be tricky, and it’s important not to “out” youth or put them in unsafe situations.  But after a year the group has see a huge increase in stats –   almost 20 youth came out to the Queer Prom. As for all teen programming attendance can be up and down, but the group went from zero youth to 7 consistent members, and many more come in and out. You Belong really is a platform for youth to feel safe, connect with other youth just like them and be better educated on topics that relate to them.  Mentorship is key, and participants have really found the guest speakers to be inspiring.

The facilitator always starts each session with a round table introduction, including preferred pronouns, and giving teens a chance to talk about how their week has been, and their ups and downs.  Then they move on to a group discussion – sometimes they’ll talk about something going on in the world, or something closer to home that concerns them.  Then they start to plan or prep for an event or program.  Here and there they add fun things like field trips and parties.


Group facilitator Sepideh  has very kindly and generously offered to answer any questions library staff might have to help libraries in other provinces start their own LGBTQ+ youth groups, saying

“Let me know if you have any questions and if I can help in any other way. I commend you in BC for starting up programs like this and taking the initiative to take on this challenge.  As difficult it may be with many obstacles it is so rewarding and so very much necessary. I hope one day programs of this nature are as common place as any other programs that librarians conduct.”

A massive thank you to Sepideh for sharing this valuable information!

For more information on You Belong, visit Sepideh’s post on the American Library Association’s Programming Librarian blog.

Does your library offer LGBTQ+ programs for youth, seniors, or any other demographic! Sharing is caring, so help your colleagues across the province better serve their patrons by sharing your knowledge and experiences!





Interview with Leigh Matthews

BCLA LGBTQ member Casey Stepaniuk brings us this great interview with Vancouver-based author Leigh Matthews. A big thank you to both Casey and Leigh!

A little while ago I talked with my friend and Vancouver-based author Leigh Matthews about her journey as a queer writer, her contemporary lesbian pulp series set in Vancouver, her must-have LGBTQ+ books, and what an LGBTQ+-friendly library looks like to her. Check out her website if you want to more information about her books and all the other cool stuff she does, including freelance medical writing and website development. I’ve reviewed her (awesome) books on my blog, if you want to check that out too. She had loads of interesting things to say, so here’s the interview!


Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your career as a writer?

Aside from brief periods when I wanted to be a professional soccer player and a forensic pathologist, I always wanted to be a writer. I used to make up character profiles for the people who populated the childhood games I played with my brother. I would write stories about them, which then progressed into attempts at writing novels, peppered with a little poetry that was praised far too highly!

After being involved in a youth writing initiative in the UK in my late teens, I stopped writing for a little while, for a variety of reasons, including devaluing my creative nature. Then, when I moved to Canada in 2010 and started working as a freelancer, I made a commitment to myself to nurture that creativity and start writing fiction and poetry again. It took a while to clear out the creative pipes, and I found the challenge and boundaries of National Novel Writing Month very helpful in rediscovering the joy of writing with my inner editor turned off.

The novel that emerged from NaNoWriMo 2011 became The Old Arbutus Tree, my first full novel, published in 2012. I’ve tried to do NaNoWriMo every year since, and have also done the 3-Day Novel Challenge. These are such fun ways to just get the words down and get the story out. It’s so much easier to work with existing material than to stare at a blank page every day. And, seeing that word count ticking up every day is incredibly gratifying and has taught me to be less precious and more focused on pacing and plot as a scaffold for my work.

I’ve recently begun writing poetry again, but I mainly focus on novels and short stories, with some creative non-fiction. I am also a medical copywriter and journalist, which helps pay my bills and is a great way to learn new things and meet interesting people.

I’m really interested in people’s motivations – how others’ brains work and how they experience life. It’s such a privilege to work as a writer and have the time to get inside a character’s mind and create a realistic portrayal of someone who might think very differently to me. I think this is one of the reasons why readers have been found to have a higher degree of empathy than those who don’t read regularly. The ability to consider how someone else sees a situation and how they might respond to it is so important and yet we don’t teach it directly to children, we have to rely on literature to do that.

Do you think of yourself a “queer writer,” or as just a writer who happens to be queer?

I’ve identified as bisexual since I was a teenager, but only adopted a queer identity after moving to Canada. I feel like it’s a good fit for me in many ways, given my interest in shaking up standard forms of discourse and not just colouring outside the lines but questioning the very purpose and existence of those lines.

If you’re a queer, polyamory-inclined, vegan, feminist, immigrant, it’s all too easy for your accompanying bio to end up longer than the poem a journal wants to print. My queerness isn’t simply about my sexuality, though; for me, queer is more a verb than a noun, so it definitely influences my work as a writer.

For instance, I made a choice to self-publish my three novels (one of which is YA/NA) and one work of non-fiction. This was partly because I knew it would be difficult to get a contract with a good publisher, but also because I wanted to retain full creative control. I don’t like the idea of writing novel after novel that look exactly the same. Of course, self-publishing means I have to play the unfortunate game of respectability politics and am not eligible for a variety of awards or grants. Given that there are so few publishers willing to take a gamble on a new writer in a market seen as being small and difficult, I gather that this is rather a common source of ire for queer writers.

My queerness also has an impact on my work as a medical writer and journalist. Unless gender is central to the piece I’m writing, I do my utmost to be inclusive or to entirely avoid gendered terms. Instead, I aim to focus on biological facts so as not to exclude people who are trans, genderqueer, and/or intersex, and to avoid heteronormative and cisnormative assumptions.

So, yes, I absolutely think of myself as a queer writer.


The second book in your All Out Vancouver series came out earlier this year. Can you tell us about it? And what made you decide to set those books in a very recognizable Vancouver?

The books in the All Out Vancouver series are, in essence, the books that I wanted to read but that just didn’t exist. There’s a dearth of queer fiction that isn’t about coming out, and I wanted to go beyond that and write about people living their lives, be they bisexual, trans, genderqueer, and/or polyamorous. Thanks to increasing awareness and acceptance, many people now in their late twenties and thirties have been comfortably out for a long time and have been able to build chosen family and repair any rifts they might have had with their families of origin.

There’s a large queer community in Vancouver, which offers wonderful benefits but also some interesting politics to explore. I want to write about the community I know and love, with a dash of intersectionality and politics, but mostly just engaging stories about characters who readers can identify with or recognise in their own lives.

Go Deep is the second novel in the AOV series and was released in April 2016, following Don’t Bang the Barista!, which was released in October 2014. I’ll be sitting down to write the third in the series shortly, with plans to explore some of the newer characters more thoroughly while keeping in touch with the core characters who seem to have won over many readers.


What advice would you give to libraries looking to create meaningful, inclusive LGBTQ+ library collections? Are there any titles that you would consider must-haves?

There are so many fantastic lists now available online of LGBTQ+ books written by authors who themselves identify as LGBTQ+ (including those written by Casey!). I think Autostraddle, the Lesbrary, Book Riot, and other sites are a good starting point, especially for libraries looking for books by queer people of colour and trans folks whose small publishers may not have a large marketing budget.

I’d be happy to see librarians eschew bestseller lists when building collections as these lists are less an indication of what readers like and more a reflection of what straight, white, cis gender critics and publishers deem worthy of promoting. This is especially true for books written about LGBTQ+ folks by people who are straight and cis. While some of these books have literary merit, it’s important that priority is given to LGBTQ+ authors to tell our own stories.

It’s also nice to see libraries taking steps to highlight books that include diverse representations of bisexual characters and trans characters, as well as queer people of colour. The focus is normally so heavily on m/m romance or lesbian ‘chick-lit’ style narratives that it can be hard for other authors and books to find space on the shelves.

Lambda lists can also be helpful, especially now their award categories have expanded to include trans poetry and bisexual fiction.

As for must-have books, that’s a tricky one! Classics like The Colour Purple, Giovanni’s Room, The Well of Loneliness, The Price of Salt, Howl, and Rubyfruit Jungle might be considered essentials. Lesbian pulp fiction, such as by Ann Bannon, and books and plays like Confessions of a Mask, Dhalgren, Funny Boy, Blood Child, and The Normal Heart would help round out a collection. More recently, books by Shani Mootoo, Zoe Whittall, Michelle Tea, Maggie Nelson, David Levithan, and Vivek Shraya help build diversity. It’s so hard to choose!

What about making sure library spaces are LGBTQ+ friendly? What makes a space LGBTQ+ inclusive for you?

One thing I’ve noticed a lot in bookstores and libraries is how LGBTQ+ collections are typically sorted into ‘lesbian’ and ‘gay’ sections, with everything sort of lumped together as if LGBTQ+ is a genre. Having an LGBTQ+ section can be helpful for readers who are deliberately looking for these books, but I also think it essential to include books by or about LGBTQ+ people in general fiction or in the relevant genre sections of a library. This helps to avoid the ghettoization of these books, meaning that they make their way into the hands of new readers. It also helps out those people who might be nervous about standing in front of a giant ‘LGBTQ+’ sign.

On a more obvious note, having a rainbow decal somewhere visible can be very welcoming, and having all-gender washrooms is a must. Librarians themselves play a big part in making a space feel safe and welcoming, of course; educating staff to overcome any heteronormative and cisnormative assumptions about readers’ habits is essential. And, hiring librarians who have a good knowledge of LGBTQ+ books and who read diversely across genres means that it’s more likely readers will have a wider range of books recommended to them.

Not all writers like to do readings or books signings, but making space available to local authors who are LGBTQ+ and who want to hold an event can help, as can making sure to purchase local LGBTQ+ authors’ books. Hosting a queer book club, movie nights where the movie is based on an LGBTQ+ book, and taking part in Pride celebrations, Trans Visibility Day and Bi Awareness Day are also good ways to build community. Even creating a display of relevant books for such events can help library users feel safe and welcome in the space.

The Second Mango


Queen Shulamit never expected to inherit the throne of the tropical land of Perach so young. At twenty, grief-stricken and fatherless, she’s also coping with being the only lesbian she knows after her sweetheart ran off for an unknown reason. Not to mention, she’s the victim of severe digestive problems that everybody think she’s faking. When she meets Rivka, an athletic and assertive warrior from the north who wears a mask and pretends to be a man, she finds the source of strength she needs so desperately.

Unfortunately for her, Rivka is straight, but that’s okay — Shulamit needs a surrogate big sister just as much as she needs a girlfriend. Especially if the warrior’s willing to take her around the kingdom on the back of her dragon in search of other women who might be open to same-sex romance. The real world outside the palace is full of adventure, however, and the search for a royal girlfriend quickly turns into a rescue mission when they discover a temple full of women turned to stone by an evil sorcerer.

The Second Mango, the first entry in “Queer, Jewish, feminist author” Shira Glassman‘s Mangoverse series, is a sweet f/f fairy tail romp that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and which offers readers plenty of breezy fun. The characters are likeable and the story is pure “save the kingdom and get the girl” entertainment. The action takes place in a fantastic tropical kingdom with elements of Judaism woven into the land’s religion and mythology, creating a fascinatingly diverse environment. Witches, dragons, shape-shifters, and magic blend with distinct characters and feminist themes in this fantasy adventure.

The Second Mango is Glassman’s first novel, and perhaps the writing isn’t as developed as it might be, but the characters and the story definitely make this a title worth picking up. There are plenty of delightful elements that create a unique and enjoyable story, in particular Glassman’s willingness to break free of traditional story tropes. Stereotypes are turned on their heads by the sweet and girly lesbian heroine who enjoys dressing up in pretty things, and by the straight female protector who is tough and taciturn. The two main characters are women who are neither love interests nor rivals, and who are able to work together and form a close bond based on mutual admiration and eventually respect. The heroine also has food allergies – something that many readers will be able to relate to, but which doesn’t often feature in novels.

Fun and character-driven with a neatly packaged happy ending, The Second Mango is pure entertainment, which is something that’s desperately lacking in LGBTQ novels, especially for young people. Why shouldn’t LGBTQ characters have exciting adventures and happy endings? Coming-out stories and tales of struggle and challenge are vitally important, but so are romantic stories, and fairy tales, and comedies, and swashbuckling adventures – the same kinds of stories that have featured heterosexual and/or white characters for generations. Truly diverse literature means having stories that present LGBTQ characters as multifaceted entities whose lives are defined by more than their gender identity or sexual orientation.

Be sure to check out the children’s literature blog The Book Wars for an interview with Glassman, in which she talks about her writing process and inspiration.

Zak’s Safari

Zak’s Safari

When a change in the weather forces a little boy to change his safari adventure plans, he decides to instead take readers through the story of how he came to be. Zak is the child of two moms, who met, fell in love and decided to start a family just like couples everywhere. Babies come to be when an egg and a sperm come together, and different families bring these two elements together in different ways. With a focus on two-mom families, Zak’s Safari talks about what a donor is, how children like Zak are created with the help of a sperm bank, and how family created through sperm donation is just as full of love and zaniness as any other family.

What makes Zak’s Safari pretty neat, in addition to the fact that it deals with an underrepresented family dynamic, is the way in which the book came to be. The author, Christy Tyner, and her wife grew their family through sperm donation, and when the time came to talk to her children about where they came from, Tyner went searching for picture books to share with them. When she couldn’t find any picture books that reflected her family’s story she decided to write her own, and turned to Kickstarter to help fund the picture book’s creation. The book is now available on Amazon, but in a really fantastic move the author has made the entire book available to read for free on the book’s website.

The same-sex couple featured in Zak’s Safari is also mixed-race and features a lesbian woman of colour. LGBTQ literature is predominantly white, and finding books with characters of colour can be a struggle, making Zak’s Safari even more appealing as a truly diverse picture book. Diverse, positive and very cute, Zak’s Safari is definitely worth a look.

Safe Spaces – Serving Youth in Kamloops

As library staff, much of our work with LGBTQ+ patrons involves referral – connecting individuals with resources, services and professionals in their communities that can provide them with the information and support they’re looking for.

Thankfully there are fantastic organizations and initiatives across the province that are committed to working with LGBTQ individuals and communities, and to which we can confidently refer patrons. One such initiative is Safe Spaces, which is a service for youth up to 26 years of age who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, two spirit, queer or questioning and their allies in Kamloops, British Columbia.

Krista Gallant, Safe Spaces Program Coordinator 1 with Interior Community Services, took a moment to talk with us about Safe Spaces and the work they do with youth in their community.


Safe Spaces started as a pilot project back in 1998 with 3 other cities, Montreal, Moncton and Halifax.

We offer two different weekly groups. The first one is for three hours and its for youth who identify as LGBTQ2SPA+ and allies. The second is a one hour group for youth who identify as Trans*/Gender Non-Conforming. The groups are youth driven and drop in based. We usually start out with some food and then the youth choose what activity they would like to do. We have art supplies, board games, wii, a pool table etc. Sometimes, if there is a current event that they want to discuss then we chat about that!

There are also one to one appointments available for the youth. We have a wide range of resources for the youth and their parents/caregivers. We also offer free workshops to schools and service providers on a variety of topics (i.e. Sexuality and Gender 101) and have spoken on a few local panels regarding LGBTQ2SPA+ issues. Whenever possible, we include youth who are interested in sharing their story along to co-facilitate the workshops. It’s a great opportunity for the youth to learn how to public speak and gain confidence!

Safe Spaces is a self referral program. The youth can call, text or email me to find out about the program. It is available for youth ages 12-26.


A big thank-you to Krista for sharing her program with us! If you have any questions about Safe Spaces or would like any additional information, please contact them by email or telephone:


Cell: (250) 371-3086