With the opening of its lending library, Lotus Rising Project is making itself more available to the youths it serves, and to the greater community.
"We're expanding our mission to the larger community with the opening of our library," Lotus Rising Project board president Julian Spalding said. "My guess is there's no other library like this in the Rogue Valley."
Lotus Rising serves the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer community. Spalding highlighted available books such as "Stonewall," by Martin Duberman, which sheds light on the Stonewall Riots of 1969 that galvanized the gay liberation movement, and "Conduct Unbecoming," by Randy Shilts, a 1993 book Spalding said drew attention to the struggles of gays and lesbians in the military.
What: Lotus Rising Project Lending Library
Hours: 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday
Location: Woolworth Building, 29 N. Central Ave., Medford
Contact: 877-577-2244 or www.lotusrisingproject.org
"These are well-known authors in the mainstream," Spalding said. "Well, we're becoming mainstream."
Other materials on the shelves are less commonly available, from an assortment of self-help titles such as "Being Homosexual," by Richard A. Isay, to fiction books with gay and lesbian themes such as "Dusty's Queen of Hearts Diner," by Lee Lynch.
The bulk of materials comes from the Abdill-Ellis Center, an Ashland-based nonprofit organization that served the gay and lesbian community until it folded in 2010.
"The old Abdill-Ellis Center had a large library of LGBTQ books," he said. "They bequeathed the library to Lotus Rising Project."
But at the time of the center's closure, Lotus Rising Project didn't have its own location.
"They've been in storage because we didn't have a physical location," Spalding said. "They're now ready to be lent out to the public."
Morag Elizabeth catalogued the materials with her daughter, Jennifer Taylor, who Elizabeth said is working toward a Master's of Library Science degree.
"She came into the office and sat there for countless hours," Elizabeth said. "She basically created the database and created a library."
The catalog database counts 2,719 books in about 20 categories, ranging from feminism to religion/spirituality to LGBTQ mystery, and Elizabeth said there are about 500 books and other materials left to catalog.
"The database created is searchable," Elizabeth said. "We can search a book by author or we can search a book by title."
For Elizabeth, who also coordinates Lotus Rising Project's Not Straight Not Sure program, the library is more than a resource of materials that are uncommon in the Rogue Valley. It's also respite for youth and others in need of an open and affirming environment.
"We have a place where they can come, they can sit down, have a cup of coffee," Elizabeth said. "This is a place to come and be comfortable with others who are like-minded."
With hours of 3 to 6 p.m. weekdays starting today, the library hopes to be available for youth after school.
"Hopefully one day we won't need to have centers or safe havens, but right now it is necessary," Elizabeth said.
Elizabeth will be training volunteers to check out materials Monday at 3 p.m.
With its white plastic chairs and mostly bare walls, the library is more a starting point than destination. Spalding said the organization welcomes donations of couches and chairs.
"It's like anything in life, it's a work in progress, but quite a lot of books are available to the community," Elizabeth said.
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