Providence Public Library Launches the RI LGBTQ+ Community Archive
This is the first public community archives initiative to collect and provide access to the stories, as well as the social, cultural and political history of LGBTQ+ people in Rhode Island.
Pride Month has just begun, and Providence Public Library (PPL) has announced its RI LGBTQ+ Community Archive. This is the first public community archives initiative to collect and provide access to the stories, as well as the social, cultural and political history of LGBTQ+ people in Rhode Island. The archive focuses on developing collections and resources that reflect the experiences of Rhode Island’s LGBTQ+ communities.
Since 2019, PPL has been guided in this work by a Community Advisory Board that is composed of members from the Rhode Island LGBTQ+ community and PPL Collections staff. Donations to the archive include a full run of Options Magazine from 1982 to the present, the AIDS Project RI Archives (APRI) and the Kim Deacon Collection.
“Through our Special Collections at PPL, we strive to collect, archive and share the important stories and histories of people and groups within our community that may not be represented elsewhere,” says PPL executive director Jack Martin.
“AIDS Project Rhode Island is honored to donate historical materials to PPL and its brand-new RI LGBTQ+ Archive,” says APRI director Mikel Wadewitz. “The history of AIDS activism is deeply entwined with the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. As we approach June 5th — the fortieth anniversary of the first reported cases of what would come to be known as AIDS — the timing of this donation could not be more instructional.”
There was a lack of materials marking LGBTQ+ history in Rhode Island. “We were aware of the gap in materials documenting Rhode Island’s queer history in libraries and archives, and we realized that as a special collection in a public library we have a unique set of skills and resources to offer to the community to help tell their own stories,” says Kate Wells, curator of Rhode Island Collections at PPL. RI LGBTQ+ Community Archive encourages individuals and community organizations to submit stories, records and ephemera to help grow the collection. PPL is proud to support the work of community partners and organizations via access to the collection and upcoming public programs.