Lies in the libraries: changing the image of gay and lesbian from abnormal to acceptance

2007 Jean E. Coleman Library Outreach Lecture

By Anne Moore


Barbara Gittings was a pioneer for gay rights in American society, with a particular focus and passion for equal access to gay literature and outreach for LGBT populations in librarianship. She was an active participant in gay rights demonstrations during the 1950s and 1960s, pioneering the gay rights movement in America, remaining a leader in the movement throughout the decades. Although Gittings was not a librarian, she was passionate about the presence of GLBT library professionals on the front lines of the profession,as activists for social justice.

Gittings’ many accomplishments include being founder of the first lesbian organization in the U.S., chair of the American Library Association’s Social Responsibilities Round Table's Gay Task Force in 1970 (the task force later Evolved into ALA's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Round Table in 2000.) Other accomplishments include Gittings’ successful campaign to the American Psychiatry Association to remove homosexuality  from their list of mental disorders, a gay fiction award named in her honor by the GLBTRT, a lifetime membership award from the ALA in 2003, and a GLBT library collection named in her  honor at the Independence Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia. Barbara Gittings died February 18, 2007,  in Kennett Square, PA.