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San Diego's LGBT community fundraising for Central Library

SAN DIEGO -- The iconic new Central Library will open to the public on Sept. 28, and members of the LGBT community are trying to raise $150,000 to support the Teen Center and help grow and maintain the LGBT Collection, one of the largest in the country.

When that fundraising goal is reached, the Central Library will name a large alcove window on the second floor as a donation from the LGBT community.

“Many LGBT leaders have joined in the campaign to help these important programs and make our LGBT presence visible at the new library,” said Library Commissioner Susan Atkins, who is spearheading the campaign.

“So far we have nearly $80,000 in the door (or pledged.) That's over halfway to the $150,000 we hope to raise to support the Teen Center and the LGBT Collection and put our name on the grand alcove window near the LGBT collection – and near the Teen Center which is so important!”

LGBT people who have stepped up so far with money and/or support include Susan and Crystal Atkins-Weathers, Gene Burkard and Ron Hicks, Randy Clark and Michael Clark, Bonnie Dumanis and Denise Nelesen, Susan Guinn and Denice Feldhaus, Jeanne Hall, Christine Kehoe and Julie Warren, Bob Nelson, Tracy Jarman and Marcia Bonini, Joyce Rowland and Pam Morgan, Todd Schultz and Paul Scott Silvera, Laura Shawver and Tracy Macuga, Maureen Steiner and Camille Davidson, Dr. Delores Jacobs at The LGBT Center, Kay Chandler at the Human Dignity Foundation, Rescue Social Change Group and many others.

“But we still have a way to go,” Atkins said. “And I'll keep smiling and dialing – with a little help from my friends – until we're done.”

The dramatic window alcove on the new library’s second floor, overlooking Park Boulevard and selected for the LGBT community naming, is next to the library’s Social Studies Section where the 8,800-item LGBT collection is located. In addition to this vast collection are hundreds of LGBT-related items found in all sections of the library including Art & Music, Literature & Languages, Social Sciences, Science & Technology, History, Special Collection and the Children’s and Young Adult section.

The San Diego Public Library’s LGBT holdings are further buttressed by a vast array of online databases that includes LGBT Life with full text, a comprehensive resource which indexes the world's literature regarding Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender issues gathered from hundreds of LGBT-specific core periodicals, books and reference works, and data-mined from priority periodicals and thousands of select titles.

“The Library is a very inclusive place. Rich, poor, homeless, straight, trangender or a racial minority, everyone gets the same tireless service from a dedicated library staff person. So, it is fitting for the LGBT community to make visible its support for this egalitarian institution,” Atkins said. “This is our library, too; and so many of our contributions to San Diego are almost invisible because we are private leaders -- Port Commissioners, Airport Authority Chair, Arts Commission Commissioners, Library Commission, Human Rights Commission, etc. We want the San Diego Community to know now and for generations to come that LGBT people are supporters of institutions that serve the best interests of the city.”

LGBT community leaders are especially interested in ensuring assistance for homeless teens in San Diego. 40% of homeless teens in San Diego are LGBT youth, and they use the library every day. Monarch School, the San Diego public school for students at risk of being homeless, already uses the current Central Library and will be part of the new program.

The new Central Library is the largest municipal library in the nation to also house a public school. Floors six and seven of the nine-story library will be home to e3 Civic High, which will serve 500 students. Additionally, the school builds upon already planned features to serve the 37 elementary, middle and high schools within 2½ miles of the new Central Library, including an after school hours homework center.

People can donate any amount to the LGBT initiative by sending checks to Jay Hill, Chief Executive Officer, San Diego Public Library Foundation, 820 E St., San Diego, CA 92101 with LGBT in the memo line, or by going online HERE. Anyone donating $2500 or more will also receive a brick in the Library Lobby which they can engrave with their own message. And there will be an electronic scroll naming the donors of more than $2500.

“Every donation counts, large and small. We want everyone to know they are included in the library and in this LGBT Initiative,” Atkins said.