Georgia Library Association Interest Groups are a great way to network with librarians with similar interests, advocate for causes near to your heart, and develop professionally. Today, we’re sharing an interview with Robert J. Taylor, Chair of the Gender and Sexuality Diversities Interest Group and Acquisitions/Cataloging Librarian at Valdosta State University. Robert tells us more about the origins GLA’s newest interest group, which was incorporated in 2019, and about their vision for the group’s future.
Could you tell us about the creation of the group – for example, how did the idea come together? And what was the work involved in getting the group off the ground?
Robert: The idea started at ALA. I attended my first ALA conference last year in Washington DC. It was a beautiful experience for me. I attended as many sessions and events from the Rainbow Roundtable (formally known as GLBTRT) as I could while there, and the whole time I could not stop thinking about GLA. I felt such a wonderful sense of community and belonging just by being around other queer librarians and seeing the pronoun ribbons at the conference badge station. I cried during the GLBTRT awards ceremony and picked up some books there that I will always treasure.
During my time in DC, I toyed with the idea of starting the interest group. When I came home and attended the GLC Annual Conference I decided I would start the group. I started by talking to fellow queer librarians in my library and one member of GLC that I knew to gather support for the petition. I was very nervous about it. When the petition was accepted, I was ecstatic. We have so far had one meeting in person at GLC Midwinter and one virtual meeting. We are still in the process of getting the group off the ground, and I’m very excited for the work we can do together.
I know that many Interest Groups have had plans derailed due to the pandemic; have there been any events you’ve needed to retool or rethink in this time of social distancing?
Robert: Since our group is still very young, we have not yet planned much outside of presentations for the upcoming GLC Conference. I’m pleased that the conference will be virtual this year so we can still have a presence.
When you think about the future of the Gender & Sexuality Diversities Interest Group, what are some areas in which you’d like to see the group develop and grow?
Robert: I am open to the possibilities that the members of the interest group and community will bring. I would love to eventually be able to develop an award for queer Georgia authors. Outside of that I really want to see the group become a strong voice for LGBTQ+ librarians and build a network of resources.
What would you say to someone who is interested in joining the Gender and Sexuality Diversities group?
Robert: I think our mission statement says it best:
The purpose of the GLA Gender and Sexuality Diversities Interest Group is to advocate for and advance the voices of LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual/Aromantic and more) individuals in Georgia libraries through networking and collaboration. Specific topics of the Interest Group include outreach, programming, resource sharing, community building, and access to resources. In addition, it will also facilitate collaborative programming for the annual Georgia Libraries Conference on topics such as inclusive programs, collection development, supporting your LGBTQIA+ colleagues, current issues, and more.
If anyone would like more information, my email inbox is open!