Queering the library

Berlin, Germany

Central and Regional Library Berlin
Country: Germany
Population of Berlin: 3,769,495

Three challenge teams are exploring how Berlin’s libraries can transform their spaces, literature and perspectives so the city’s queer communities feel genuinely safe, welcome and represented in their libraries.

Central and Regional Libraries Berlin hosted three separate challenge teams. Challenge team one, run by the Oyoun cultural centre, combed through the archives of various venues and institutions looking for material documenting events by and for queer and trans migrant communities, and used this to create an installation at the library. Challenge team two, run by the queer literature magazine Transcodiert (Eng: Transcoded), tested how it could map queer perspectives and narratives in the library space and explored how to develop a safer space for queer communities at the library. Challenge team three, mehr_blick, which holds workshops on the perspectives of children’s books, worked on ‘reading glasses’ – a tool for children to wear so they could critically examine the perspectives and assumptions of the books they were reading.

Each of the challenge teams’ prototypes proved successful – and led to some profound learning for the library involved. In particular, the work challenged assumptions of how libraries can partner with organisations without falling into colonial practices, that seek to understand but end up appropriating learning, insight and practices from communities. All three challenge teams plan to continue their work in alternative ways of archival and documentation, questioning visibility of queer communities through its work and the content supplied via the library. 

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