You belong @ your library: Interview with Jessica Zaker

Jessica Zaker, North Sacramento Public Library Branch Supervisor and You belong @ your library campiagn developer, discuss successes in reaching out to the LGBT community.

1) What were the major outcomes from the campaign?
Major outcomes from our “You Belong @ your library” campaign include lasting programs like a queer book club at the local LGBT center and Rainbow Family story time in my library branch, still going strong over a year later. We also have the campaign posters and rainbow “You Belong @ your library” window clings up in all 28 branches of the Sacramento Public Library and our circulation for LGBT materials is up about 20% since the campaign began. Our selectors are buying more print and ebooks with queer content. We still have the booklists created for the campaign available on our library website. Finally, there is more awareness and sensitivity on the part of the staff with regard to this patron demographic, people are willing to take extra steps to ensure patrons find the materials that interest them and that they feel welcome in the branch and in the community at large.
 
After the Rainbow Family Egg Hunt, library staff notice a lot of new people in the branch, some of whom they recognized from the program. One of the parents in attendance returned with her daughter for the regular storytime, the first she had attended in this branch. One of the fathers who attended joined the regular knitting group that meets in the branch.
 
Feedback:
“Do you know how important what you’re doing is for this community? Thank you so much for including us.”
“When I saw your list of events, I was so impressed.”
“Now they (LGBT youth) know there’s a place they are welcome.”
“I’ve never seen anything like this.”
“So glad the library is recognizing us.”
“We didn’t know where to find other parents; this is so amazing.”
 
2) What were some of the key lessons to you learned?
Key lessons: don’t assume anything. I was fortunate enough to find allies almost everywhere I turned and thinking , “Oh, this community partner won’t be interested/have anything to offer/want to work with me” is completely untrue. Be shameless. Promote relentlessly to everyone about everything. 
 
My favorite is a quote from our library director, “This week has enough good feelings to last for awhile,” Rivkah Sass.
 
3) How has the campaign continued, grown and/or evolved?
The campaign has continued by:
Annual SPL table at Sacramento Pride where booklists, remaining “You Belong @ your library” window clings and other promotional materials will be made available. 
All 28 libraries have a “You Belong @ your library” window cling featured prominently in the branch as well as at least 1 of the poster series that was created. These will be displayed year-round. 
SPL librarians are including “Gay Pride Month” and “National Coming Out Day” in the regular programming holiday calendar. 
Continuing the “Come Out and Read” book club that was started at the North Sacramento Library at The Center with books provided by the Sacramento Public Library, beginning in May.
Guest judged spelling bee fundraiser for Gender Health Center; will be partnering with them for a future trans program.
Continuing our annual Same Sex Speed Dating for Booklovers event.
 
4) If you where to do it again, what would you do differently?
If I were to do it again, I would connect with local authors and musicians to create even more of a community event. I would advertise in more local businesses and share contact information. I would follow up with every person interested in attending to see what they liked or if they didn’t show, why not?
 
To learn more about Sacramento Public Library’s You belong @ your library campaign, check out: