In September 2016, members of the Southwest Virginia LGBTQ+ History Project began providing assistance to the Roanoke Diversity Center in a long-term project to digitize the catalog of the Roanoke LGBT Memorial Library. We completed the cataloging process in January 2018.
The library catalog is online. Check it out!
History Project volunteer, librarian, and herstorian Julia Greider has also created this Library Guide to the collections.
A Brief History
The LGBT Memorial Library began with approximately one thousand volumes that were the private collection of Jim Ricketson of Roanoke. At the time of Ricketson’s death in 2000, he had arranged to transfer the collection of books to his friend Ed Harris who shared with Ricketson the idea of the collection blossoming into a public library for the LGBTQ community. The Ricketson GLBT Library opened to the public in the basement of the Lifestream Center in Grandin Village on December 6, 2000. In 2002, the library moved from Grandin Village to a storefront on Kirk Avenue in downtown Roanoke. By the time the library closed to the public in 2003—due to a lack of labor and funds—it had grown to nearly 3,000 volumes. Following Harris’s death in 2005, the books moved to the Drop-In Center (an HIV-testing clinic) in downtown Roanoke and operated there as a community library until 2011 when it was all moved again to Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) of the Blue Ridge in Southeast Roanoke. Eugene Drayton helped to reopen the library to the public at MCC for several years, until it fell into disuse again in the mid-2010s. As of 2017 the library has been incorporated into the newly expanded space of the Roanoke Diversity Center (RDC). The Southwest Virginia LGBTQ+ History Project is assisting the RDC in digitizing the library catalog and putting it online.
Hours of Operation
The library is open to the public whenever the Roanoke Diversity Center is open. Check their website for updated hours.
The Roanoke LGBT Memorial Library is now a limited circulating library again, which means that visitors can sign up for a library account and check out books in accordance with the Roanoke Diversity Center’s rules and policies. Please speak with a Roanoke Diversity Center staff person or volunteer for assistance.
The Roanoke LGBT Memorial Library accepts book donations on a limited basis. However, we reserve the right to refuse any items that do not fit with the library’s historic mission or cannot be accommodated due to space.
The library catalog is live at: https://roanokelgbtlibrary.librarika.com. Please contact us if you discover any issues or errors with the catalog.
We are always seeking dedicated volunteers to help with cataloging new accessions and improving the quality of the library. Please contact us to get involved.