The Vancouver Public Library is taking steps to make transgender, gender-variant, and two-spirited residents feel more at home in its branches.
Earlier this week, new washroom signs started appearing, welcoming trans people into men's and women's washrooms.
It comes after a series of VPL measures to promote trans, gender-variant, and two-spirited inclusion.
According to a report by chief librarian Sandra Singh, the VPL hosted an International Day of Pink celebration with the city and school board in April to oppose homophobia, transphobia, transmisogyny, and bullying. The following month, 12 exhibitors, including the Trans Alliance Society, were part of an event held on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia.
Singh's report also notes that the library's staff picks and library collections have demonstrated a welcoming approach to transgender, gender-variant, and two-spirited residents. For example, staff have created a fiction display, reading lists and book lists, and highlighted U.S. author Susan Faludi's In the Darkroom, which focuses on her father's sex change.
"Based on subject headings with 'transgender' in the subject heading (fiction and non-fiction), VPL has 405 items in the collection (157 unique titles)," the report states. "These titles range from children's picture books, to young adult fiction and non-fiction, biographies, adult fiction and non-fiction, feature films and documentaries, and zines."
City process will lead to more actions
Earlier this year, five library staff members were part of a city consultation session concerning trans, gender-variant, and two-spirited inclusion.
It led to a list of consultant's recommendations, including dedicating staff resources to lead and coordinate transgender, gender-variant and two-spirited inclusion at each library branch. There were also calls for the library to identify and designate a "champion/safe contact(s) at each branch" and "expand and update policies to include gender identity and expression".
In late July the Vancouver library board approved Singh's recommendation in her report to "direct staff to develop an action plan" based on the consultant's recommendations, which also addressed recruitment, hiring, and workplace relations.
"The recommendations for VPL arising from the consultant's report are in keeping with VPL's existing inclusion commitments and approaches to community engagement and can build on the work already being undertaken," Singh states in her report.
Library has promoted inclusion in the past
In 2010, the Vancouver library board passed a motion declaring that the library "strives to deliver inclusive service, affirming the dignity of those they serve, regardless of heritage, education, beliefs, ethnicity, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical or mental health, physical or cognitive abilities, or socio-economic status".
As part of this policy, staff must identify underrepresented or hard-to-reach populations. In addition, staff have been directed to seek to understand how diverse groups identify themselves, and listen to them "rather than relying on indirect sources, such as statistical reports, other public libraries, or community service providers".
The policy also calls on staff to to work with diverse communities "to determine appropriate ways to design, deliver, and evaluate services".