Thursday, January 31, 2008

Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives

I recently started volunteering at the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives and I LOVE it. I can't wait for Wednesdays, it gives me a huge sense of purpose and when I'm there I don't leave until they lock the door. I love it, I'd love to spend weeks in there pouring over the material. There's such a sense of brotherhood, I have the feeling when I go like I had when I first went to the gay village, a sense of connection, of belonging, I love pouring over the stories of the people who went before. I want to buy them supplies and volunteer for everything.

I'm currently working on the book collection with Cliff. This is him here, hard at work. I label the donations and put stickers on the books and stuff, which is great as I get to see all the books, and Cliff lists them all in the computer by subject and category and author and year and condition.... yikes, I'm glad I don't have that job.

This is part of the book collection. There are far more books than storage space right now so it's a bit tight.

More books and a research table. It was interesting, one of the aspects of the archives is public service, where you help members of the public who come in. Tony who I volunteer with was surprised when I said I didn't want to do that, I guess, especially in a library setting, I'm one of the more outgoing people. But there's a reason I've been in admin for 12 years, I work best by myself with a ton of different stuff to do and this job gives me that.

Some of the video collection.

This is the rare (read expensive) stuff. I find it hard not to go through this, write down everything and go home and order one for myself. I friend of mine wisely said "There already is an archives, you don't have to start another one".

Some of the books. They have some marvelous works here. None in this picture unfortunately but I find it's difficult sometimes to get gay books, like you go to a yard sale and you know they won't have anything for you, and here they have TONS. I should do another blog post later on some cool finds at the archives. X-tra seems to be running a weekly feature lately along the same lines, highlighting one thing from this collection.

Lots of magazines and archival records, like all the records from the Body Politic, Canada's first gay newspaper, and Svend Robinson's parliamentary papers.

LOTS of magazines.

Part of the poster collection and a sign we're getting to the good stuff. It's so cool to be in a gay library with a picture of a penis hanging on the wall.

Last, but not least, the porn. A lot of people snicker at this collection, even volunteers at the Archives themselves, but I love going through this. Half to three quarters of this collection was published before 1985 when there were no "gay" magazines, there was still pornography. Many of these magazines were it for gay culture, containing theatre reviews, interviews with queer authors and articles like "Gay in Berlin: On Both Sides of the Wall" and "Gay parents" from the mid 70's. An invaluable resource, even if the people do have stupid hair.
The archives is always looking for volunteers or donations and can be contacted at the link above.

No comments: