The John J. Wilcox, Jr. Lending Library

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

While it’s true that a lot of excitement takes place in bars, we quiet bookish types know that all the real action goes on between the covers.

Like Carrie Bradshaw and Monolos, books are what makes me happiest. I love books. The texture, the smell, the sound of pages turning. I love the static quiet and still air in bookstores and libraries, even comic book shops. I love the way standing in a room of books makes me feel like nothing is out of my reach. That I could learn anything, with enough time and effort, become a self-educated expert on any subject. As a card-carrying member of the gay lady club, of course GLBTQ fiction and history hold a special place in my heart.

So, where are the best places for a queer bookworm to get his/her/hir read on? Well, I’m partial to the John J. Wilcox, Jr. Lending Library. Located at 1315 Spruce (William Way Community Center), the library offers amenities like free wifi, a plush seat to read in, and the company of charming librarians.

According to Candice Thompson, the Director of Center Services, the library is “free to join and gets volumes for its collection through generous community donations. Today the John J. Wilcox, Jr. Library has over 10,000 titles, a growing collection of DVDs, and over 100 patrons a month with a staff of 15 volunteer librarians who keep the library open 7 days a week.”

Additionally, the center helps out with a GLBTQ bookmobile that extends services to gay-straight alligences in southern New Jersey (and will expand to service the Philly School District this year).

Additionally, the William Way Community Center also hosts a book club on the third Wednesday of every month. It’s also free, and an excellent fun alternative to the bar scene.

Shockingly, Philadelphia queer folks are doubly blessed to have TWO glbtq libraries sharing our fair city. The Barbara Gittings Gay & Lesbian Collection at the Free Library of Philadelphia, which I have not yet had a chance to visit yet (but hear great things about) is located at Seventh and Market.

I don’t deny that the pounding music and sweaty ambiance of a club is exciting. But, for me it’s also a little overwhelming and awkward. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, maybe it’s because I’m kind of quiet normally anyway. Personal interaction tends to mean more to me than the club scene. And talking one on one (or as a group) about queer lit? Well, to this bookworm, it doesn’t get much better than that.

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