Wicklow County Council Library Service along with LGBTI Allies of County Wicklow recently marked Social Inclusion Week with a visibility campaign which focused on sending out a message of welcome to the LGBTI community.
Libraries have always striven to lessen social exclusion by serving as designated safe spaces for vulnerable groups. The aim of this project was to reduce social exclusion by raising awareness through the flying or displaying of the traditional rainbow flag and the LGBTI allies flag at all 13 of their library buildings.
County Wicklow Partnership (WCP) also arranged to have people from the LGBTI community to be recorded while telling their stories. Wicklow County Council Library Service shared the subsequent podcasts on Facebook and other social media platforms.
Mary Millet from WCP explained: “The experiences of parents of young LGBTI people and adult coming out stories are hugely important to LGBTI young people and their parents, it’s always comforting to know that others are on the same page.” These recordings may be accessed on the library Facebook page, the library website and other podcasting platforms.
Michael Nicholson, Director of Services, Wicklow County Council, welcomed the programme saying: “Libraries have a reduced capability of running activities or events due to present restrictions. The availability of these podcasts helps increase awareness of challenges facing the LGBTI community and celebrates diversity. This project has been possible due to shared funding from the Department of Rural and Community Development and Wicklow County Council”.
Currently, Wicklow County Council Library Service is concentrating on building a comprehensive collection of LGBTI resources across all genres and for all age groups.
“It is important that everyone in our community is looked after in terms of reading material. We will be looking at having current LGBTI informative material and also an extensive range of junior, young adult and general fiction which will be borrowed by the entire community”, says Outreach librarian, Margaret Birchall.
She added: “The LGBTI visibility campaign has been very successful which is evidenced by the number of positive responses on the library social media platforms. We will build on this success by focussing on ensuring all library staff receive training around LGBTI issues”.