Thursday, February 20, 2014

“That’s So Gay” Opens with Fanfare

Despite record-breaking snowfall, 150 people convened at the Library Company on Valentine’s Day to view the new exhibition that is getting noticed around the country. From traditional print and broadcast media to websites and blogs, the story of the exhibition has caught the imagination of the New York Times, WHYY, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Magazine, and ABC-10, as well as the Huffington Post Gay Voices Blog, Uwishunu, the tourism blog for Visit Philadelphia,, and All are intrigued by the exhibition’s exploration of gay life and culture at a time when those with social preferences, sexual preferences, and gender identifications that varied from the norm talked about these things in very different language.

The centerpiece of the opening festivities was the talk “What is Sex For?” by noted historian David Halperin. Professor Halperin considered the curious phenomenon of gay bathhouses playing love songs as a way into a discussion of Aristotle’s thoughts on the complex relationship between sex and love. Additional events to be held in conjunction with the exhibition include a table reading by Mauckingbird Theatre Company of John Marans’s play The Temperamentals on Monday, March 31; a concert by vocal ensemble Philadelphia Voices of Pride drawing inspiration from the Library Company’s collection of sheet music on Monday June 30; and a lecture by Marc Stein, author of City of Sisterly and Brotherly Loves, in October.

Those who can’t travel to Philadelphia to see the exhibition first-hand are invited to view the content and join the conversation at

Birthday Wishes for Ben

It seems that more than 200 years after his death, Library Company Founder Benjamin Franklin still captures the imagination of the ladies—or the girls anyway. Shortly after his January 17 birthday this year, we received a heartfelt and hand-drawn card from Lily West of Portland Oregon. 
Lily writes that Ben Franklin is “by FAR” her and her father’s favorite Founding Father. Her card is illustrated with pictures of some of Franklin’s most notable inventions and associations, including the lightning rod, bifocals, paper money, and postage stamps. The budding historian is pictured below in a Library Company T-shirt. 

Library Company Material on Display at Swann Galleries

Antebellum and Civil War-era highlights of the Library Company’s African Americana Collection will be on display at Swann Auction Galleries from March 22 to 26. In conjunction with its Printed & Manuscript African Americana sale on March 27, Swann Galleries is generously helping to promote the Library Company’s Program in African American History—maintaining a longstanding tradition of collaboration between our two institutions.

Swann Galleries specialist Wyatt Houston Day, who founded that company’s preeminent African Americana Department, and Library Company Curator of African American History Krystal Appiah are coordinating to ensure that the display of materials from the Library Company collections illuminates and augments the material that will be up for auction. Swann Galleries was host to a similar exhibition in 2007, shortly after the Library Company's 275th birthday.

Swann Galleries, 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, 212-254-4710,

ALA Declaration of the Right to Libraries

On January 27, students, parents, and advocates signed the ALA Declaration of the Right to Libraries in the Library Company’s Logan Room in conjunction with the American Library Association winter conference. The ceremonial signing showed support for the survival of libraries throughout the country; signings have been held nationwide since July 2013.
The Declaration is premised on the principles that libraries empower individuals, support literacy and lifelong learning, build communities, strengthen the nation, and promote informed citizenship in addition to advancing research and scholarship—ideas that founder Benjamin Franklin would certainly agree with. The full text of the declaration may be found here:
Speakers at the brief ceremony included event organizer Carol Heinsdorf, member of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools; Karel Kilimnik, Co-Founder of APPS; Library Company Director John Van Horne and Development Director Molly Roth; Bernadette Kearney, member of the Association of Public School Librarians and Librarian at Philadelphia’s Masterman School; and Gomian Konneh, from the School District of Philadelphia’s Student Advisory Board and a Masterman Senior. Konneh read an impassioned statement about the critical contributions that libraries and certified librarians can make to the future success of her and her peers. Finally, Barbara Stripling, President of the American Library Association and creator of the Declaration and the Libraries Change Lives program, talked about the current situation in Philadelphia’s public schools.

According to the ALA, more than 135,000 of Philadelphia’s students no longer have access a certified librarian, or even a library in some instances because of budget cuts. Only 16 certified school librarians remain, compared to 176 in 1991, and about 93 percent of schools within the city do not have librarians. Thus, Stripling says, “students are not learning the information skills, the inquiry skills, the way to navigate in a world of technology and information that’s going to enable them to be successful personally and academically and in their jobs.”

LCP News Menu