116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Public libraries are the vanguards of healthy communities. Outside of their physical holdings, they provide the public with critical information literacy tools, social services, internet, access to electronic devices, and a variety of programming for all ages. In the course of a year, they transform into cooling and warming centers, satellite voting locations, while offering free meeting spaces for countless groups. Libraries provide physically safe, socially inclusive, privacy-minded environments where neither users’ searches nor confidences are betrayed by employees or volunteers.
Recently, a slew of bad-faith campaigns to ban or steal books, protest programs and harass patrons have made their way to the Hawkeye State. The onset of Pride month has further amplified attacks on affirming LGBTQ+ materials and forged a new bogey monster in drag performance artists.
I’d like to extend my gratitude to the libraries who have found themselves on the receiving end of this crass cudgel. Events such as drag brunches, story hours, and cooking classes offer spaces for library users to celebrate creativity, express joy, and gain brief exposure to the subversion of old ideas.
This is not new. This has always been the role of libraries.
Like a closet packed with sequined gowns, libraries preserve canonized texts, recounts of the past and archive artifacts alongside the newest mediums, services, and cutting-edge ideas. None of these are forced on anyone, but are freely available for loan to all.