ACA.queerlibrary.011.061122

Cora Newton, 10, paints her Little Queer Library on Friday at her home in Lafayette.

Fights at the Lafayette Public Library over which lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender and queer books and movies ought to remain on the shelves — which shelves, even — may be softened at least in part by an out-of-the-box reading option: the Little Queer Library.

Library enthusiasts have long quarreled over inclusion of LGBTQ books, materials and programming. Recently, those disagreements centered locally on a self-help book for teens, “This Book is Gay,” by Juno Dawson and a documentary on DVD, “Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood.” The latter tells a story about a man who arranged gay trysts for Hollywood movie stars, post-World War II.

Neither the book nor the DVD were banned, although the former was moved from the library’s young reader shelves to adult shelves and the latter was restricted to patrons 17 and older. (It’s on Prime, by the way.)

The continuing dispute between those who would ban the works or restrict them and those who defend their inclusion in the library collection inspired a Lafayette child to create a “Little Queer Library” that offers LGBTQ titles for exchange through a rainbow-painted library box. Little Free Libraries have been part of a national movement for a decade; there are more than 100,000 book-sharing boxes in use.

Cora Newton, 10, and her mother, Katie Salts of Lafayette, recently attended a Library Board of Control meeting — a brave act in itself — which inspired the daughter to build and supply the Little Queer Library.

“I think there should be all kinds of books in the library,” she said. “There are a lot of people that are LGBTQ. I think people would like to see books they like, too.”

She’s not wrong. Books vetted by the library staff are intended to serve the readership. If books and materials are routinely borrowed, then patrons have voted with their library cards. Respect that.

Library enthusiasts ought to respect Cora’s effort to serve other readers. They ought to bristle when others try to restrict their access to books and ideas. Cora knows that. The Library Board of Control should know that, too.