The LGBTQ Iowa Archives & Library is based in Iowa City, IA and was founded in 2020 as a project to collect, preserve, and share queer history throughout the state of Iowa. For decades, the LGBTQ history of Iowa and its neighboring states have been overshadowed by the history of queer life in urban centers across the U.S. such as San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. At the very core of our mission is a deep understanding that LGBTQ people have always lived, struggled, and thrived in Iowa. Our experiences as small-town, rural, and Midwestern LGBTQ people are crucial to the history of our community across the U.S.
To accomplish our goals of collecting, preserving, and sharing queer history in and about Iowa we have four principal functions. The first is a lending library to share the breadth and diversity of LGBTQ writers and stories for our community to enjoy and learn from. With books for audiences of all ages, the lending library is a critical community resource that prioritizes LGBTQ authors and texts. The second function is to build an archives that captures the robust material traces of LGBTQ life in Iowa, available to community members and scholars for browsing and research. The third is to serve as an oral history resource center as we share the tools, skills, and knowledge necessary to actively capture LGBTQ history in our state through recorded interviews. Lastly, we run a gallery space that features exhibitions of LGBTQ artists who live in or are from Iowa to aid in the making of queer history. As part of our mission to collect and preserve the history of LGBTQ Iowa, we know it is crucial to also share that history with people throughout the state and around the country. One way we share Iowa’s queer history is through monthly physical mailing we lovingly call history-by-letters. If you’d like to sign up to receive snail mail from the LGBTQ Iowa Archives & Library fill out our mailing address form.
Operations During COVID
During the COVID-19 Pandemic, we are operating on a limited in-person basis for use of our lending library, volunteer opportunities, and viewings of our exhibition space. For book borrowing, you can stop by in-person to browse our books or place a book on hold for contactless pick-up outside of our space during open hours. Masks are required. We reserve the right to ask any community member who refuses to wear a mask to leave in order to protect our volunteers. We will have only one volunteer working at a time to minimize contact and the number of people in our space.
Please contact us directly if you wish to make a material donation to our lending library or archival collections and we will arrange a safe donation whether through drop off, pick-up, or mailing. To volunteer in-person or digitally at a distance, please fill out our survey located under the Get Involved tab.