Following an invitation from the UCD Students Union, the Small Trans Library hosted an enormously successful pop-up in the UCD student centre during Rainbow Week. The lending library of trans-authored books for trans people is growing fast and has branches in Dublin, Glasgow and another in the works in Cardiff.
The College Tribune spoke to James Hudson, a writer and librarian with the Small Trans Library who said ‘it went absolutely brilliantly. We smashed our previous records of most books loaned in a month (39 in August 2021; 63 in our three days in UCD!) and met so many students of all identities who were delighted to learn that we existed.’ He went on to add that ‘It was most thrilling to meet people who had never heard of us at all because it meant we were reaching well beyond the limited scope of social media. I encountered very little trans literature during my own time in UCD a few years ago.’
A growing organisation, the Small Trans Library has three key aspects. Firstly, the books which people can loan with no deadlines or late fees. People can browse the books at pop-up events or through the digital catalogue on their website. There is so much more to it than the lending of books, however. The library runs a mutual aid fund that was set up to aid the trans community through the COVID-19 crisis and will continue into the future as a resource for trans people in financial need. Finally, the library runs a wide variety of events including book clubs, days out, self-defence classes, potlucks and pop-up libraries like the one that was run in UCD.
Founded in 2017, James said the Small Trans Library was initially ‘purely a small lending library for trans people, the library promotes a trans community that can engage with pleasure and entertainment beyond pure survival, allows people access to historical trans texts as well as current trans art without financial or academic barriers, and creates a physical, tactile resource for trans people to engage with away from a tenuous, intangible online community. He added that ‘we want trans people to be alive and happy, and we do what we can to make that happen as a group of like-minded volunteers.’
James said given the success of the pop-up in UCD last month, ‘we might look into repeating it in UCD or other colleges if we can find the time and resources.’ He noted that ‘it was a particularly proud moment for me to be able to return with so much great trans art to share and for our work to be so embraced by the students we met.’
Clearly, the Small Trans Library doesn’t run itself, however. James describes them as ‘a gaggle of very passionate trans people working behind the scenes to create new resources and opportunities based on our own interests and experiences and those of trans people around us.’
The library accepts donations of LGBT+ books or financial donations that are largely redistributed to trans people in need. They accept donations through Paypal, Ko-fi and Patreon – where their tiers allow people to decide whether their patronage goes to books/events, the mutual aid fund, or split evenly between both. James also said the library is ‘happy to chat with any trans people who would like to volunteer.’
Conor Paterson – Co-Editor