Grace Taylor, a second-year student at the University of New Brunswick Renaissance College, wishes they had access to LGBTQ-related books when they were younger. Now, they’re an internal coordinator at The 203 Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity, where they’re organizing a book fundraiser to expand the centre’s LGBTQ library resources.
“One of the things we’d like to see out of this fundraiser is to grow our library and to create more resources for students at [UNB, St. Thomas University, the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, the New Brunswick Community College], really anyone who just needs a space or information,” Taylor said.
Taylor, along with volunteers, will circulate Chapters Fredericton on Feb. 6 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. to spread the word to customers. The centre will receive between 15 to 20 per cent of sales between the two-hour period.
“I’d be happy if we got $200. That would be something that would really make a difference to the library, as it is right now limited,” said Taylor.
The library is located in the centre in the Student Union Building on UNB’s campus, which is open to STU, UNB and NBCC and NBCCD students. The library has 78 books, all donated by the previous Sexuality Centre at UNB and Spectrum, an LGBTQ group for both STU and UNB students. They cover topics like health and self-help, women and gender studies, sexual assault and more. But most of the material is outdated, with an average publication date of 1992.
The centre hopes to expand from existing topics and provide students and faculty with a more updated selection. Their wish list includes books like Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and Queer: A Graphic History.
“We would also like to see a number of children’s books in the centre. Some students have children, so it would be nice to make the centre accessible for them,” said Taylor.
“Having LGBTQ children’s books is very important. For me, it signifies a norm and it’s also something I wish I had as a child.”
Ariel Ottens, a fourth-year student at STU and a volunteer at the centre, hopes any money raised will help buy books and resources that reflect various viewpoints and experiences of members of the LGBTQ community, as well as touch on allyship.
“We need books that are written not just by white queer people and I know those books exist because I read them,” Ottens said.
“It’s not easy to be queer in the world and so this fundraiser not only helps us get books for our allies but also for ourselves, because there’s always something to learn.”
The centre receives funding from UNB, which helped purchase new furniture, art and provide paid positions, but they have many ideas and can only do so much with the funding provided.
Megan Hill, a third-year sociology and Native Studies student at STU, also volunteers at the centre.
“Essentially, The 203 is financially funded by UNB, so although it’s a space for all of the campuses, the other campuses and institutions are not financially contributing to the centre, so that means we have no money,” she said.
Hill has a big vision for the library. She hopes it will one day include comic books, journal articles, movies and music.
She feels having a library like this is beneficial because it provides access to material that isn’t always reflected in academia. It also helps create a sense of community.
“If you look at the statistics, queer people are poor, queer people are homeless, queer people have a hard time getting jobs. I mean there’s oppression … so having access to these resources for free I think can help people feel represented and less alone.”
Hill believes having a library like this is an essential for any LGBTQ centre. Unlike other universities and spaces that have extensive LGBTQ libraries, they aren’t in the same position.
“Since we’re starting in a brand new space, we don’t have that history of a library that we can continuously add to. We’re basically starting from scratch.”