The LGBTQ Iowa Archives and Library is a community archives and lending library whose mission is to collect, preserve, and share the queer history of Iowa and increase access to queer literature for all ages.
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
As the COVID-19 Pandemic changes, we are able to welcome more people into our space for book borrowing/browsing, studying or reading, and small group meetings. All of our volunteers are fully vaccinated, making it safer for all of us to interact and be in community together. Masks are still required. We reserve the right to ask any community member who refuses to wear a mask to leave in order to protect our patrons and volunteers. We will follow the guidance of our city and federal government as policies change.
We are still offering contactless pick-up for those who place a book on hold. 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.