Meet the Small Trans Library, the community library making a big difference in Ireland

Jess Bernard explains a bit about the Small Trans Library and their wonderful work.

Photograph from the Small Trans Library picnic. The image shows a stack of books on top of a red and white gingham cloth. In the background are more books on grass and two hands reaching in to take them.
Image: Small Trans Library

The Small Trans Library is a community library, mutual aid organisation, and arts and events platform based in Dublin. The aim of the Library is simple: to create a thriving, diverse, and joyful environment for trans people in Ireland and abroad.

With all its plans for growth in the coming year, it is a beacon for the Trans community at a time when access to resources has been limited. As Trans Day of Remembrance approaches, we look to organisations like the Library to lend hope for the future even as we honour the struggles of the past.

Founded in 2017 by a group of volunteers, called librarians, the Small Trans Library now has branches in Glasgow and Wales, with plans for a Manchester branch in the works. The Library consists of three core features; a mutual aid programme for struggling Trans people on the island of Ireland and abroad, a completely free lending library of Trans+ books and zines, and a range of free arts and culture events ranging from book clubs to Trans self-defence classes.

In March 2020, a grocery fund was established to assist Trans people on the island of Ireland – you can find the fund here via Patreon for a recurring donation, or here to make a one-off donation via Paypal. Accessing the fund is simple; drop the Library a message on social media, and payment will be made to you, usually from Paypal. These payments are intended as one-off payments, which are not means-tested.

In addition, the library is running a fundraiser to help Nigerian organisation Creme de la Creme in establishing a second Trans safe house in Imo State, Nigeria which can be found on Gofundme. Both drives are absolutely vital to the Library’s ethos of community care – the idea that none of us is free until all of us are free – and their commitment to creating bonds of international solidarity between trans people at home and abroad. 

The lending library is accessible online via social media and email, and the catalogue is listed on the Library’s website. As with the fund, the protocol is equally simple: let them know via social media what book or zine you would like to borrow, and the Small Trans Library will send it to you completely free of charge. There are no upfront fees, no late fees, and if an in-person collection is not possible, then the Library will reimburse postage costs. 

Finally, the Library has hosted a number of arts and community events in Dublin and has plans to expand this programme of events to reach Trans people across the island of Ireland. These events are included, but not limited to, Trans self-defence classes, book clubs, pot lucks, and even a club night of Trans DJs as part of the fundraiser for Creme de la Creme.

While the COVID-19 pandemic put a dampener on their ability to host in-person events over the past two years, librarians have held a number of book clubs, panel events, and watch parties online as a way of maintaining community despite multiple lockdowns. This has facilitated improved accessibility as well as further international links. The Library plans to maintain a programme of online events into the future, even as it expands once more into fostering an environment of offline community.

The Library has also hosted events in collaboration with a number of other Trans and LGBTQ+ organisations including, but not limited to, GAZE queer film festival and Black Queer Book Club. You can keep abreast of future events here

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