Lotus Rising donates LGBT books to SOU's Hannon Library

Earlier this week, Lotus Rising Project donated more than 3,000 titles to Southern Oregon University's Hannon Library, which could potentially double the library's current collection of books with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender themes.

"We were happy to take them," said librarian Jeffrey Gayton. "SOU offers a minor in gender, sexuality and women's studies. We have a gender-inclusive dorm in Shasta Hall. We have the Queer Resource Center for students, and last year Campus Pride named SOU one of the top 25 colleges for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, so SOU is interested in these kinds of topics. It interests our students and interests the community of Ashland, as well."

Lotus Rising, a support organization for LGBT youth, inherited the collection from the Abdill-Ellis Lambda Community Center, which closed in 2010.

At the time, Lotus Rising didn't have a physical location, so the books were boxed away for about five years, said board president Julian Spalding.

In January, Lotus Rising opened a library in its resource center at the old Woolworth Building in downtown Medford. But neither the resource center nor the library garnered very much attention.

"We cataloged all our books, and then put out the word through Lotus Rising Project's extensive e-list, and the Mail Tribune did a story about it," Spalding said. "But no one came to use the library. Literally nobody. It was a bad move on our part. It wasn't the right place."

Lotus Rising decided to close the resource center and give away the books. The Gay and Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest wanted the collection. However, Lotus Rising wanted to see the books used locally, so the collection was donated to Hannon Library on July 21.

The collection includes fiction and nonfiction books in a variety of categories from religion and philosophy to health and sexuality, Spalding said.

"We even have some Harry Potter books in there because Dumbledore was gay," he said.

It will take library staff nearly a year to sort and catalog the volumes, Gayton said.

Duplicates and worn books will be sold to benefit the library or given to faculty, he added.

Emily Miller Francisco, who oversees the library's gender, sexuality and women's studies section, says the library currently has about 3,000 books related to gay, lesbian and transgender issues.

Gayton said he won't know how much the collection is worth until all the volumes have been unpacked and cataloged.

Students, faculty and Friends of the Hannon Library will be able to access the books.

"You will be able to searchLotus Rising' in our electronic catalog and pull up the whole collection," Gayton said. "We feel it's a nice way to acknowledge their donation. And because it's part of our electronic catalog, the titles will be seen by more than just SOU students. It will reach Oregon schools, Washington schools, and schools across the country and around the world through WorldCat (an online library catalog). We do a fair amount of interlibrary loaning, so we will be in a position to make this collection more available to people."

Reach reporter Teresa Thomas at 541-776-4497 or tthomas@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/teresathomas_mt.

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