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Female Homosexuality: Try It! You'll Like It!
1media/try_thumb.png2020-04-19T06:20:55+00:00Bec Stargelc084e990642f9fc9c0fdc67999e007939ce3ab3c12Title page of the book "Female Homosexuality: A Psycho-dynamic Study of Lesbianism" with the words "Try it! You'll Like it!" written in red inkplain2020-04-24T03:47:46+00:00Bec StargelUnknownApril 2020Lafayette LibraryBookBec Stargelc084e990642f9fc9c0fdc67999e007939ce3ab3c
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1media/RMB Book Signing 2.JPG2018-10-12T20:16:48+00:00Jennifer Wellnitz99f5ac8e472f322e05ae14c226666851f815b607LGBTQ+ Literature8image_header2019-04-27T16:38:29+00:00Mary A Armstrong41061fcf0da5c46170ab7fce619c80dcde461b93
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12020-04-24T03:28:38+00:00The Worn Out Carpet: Final Thoughts5This page concludes the path relating to the worn out carpetplain2020-04-24T03:31:32+00:00Although it is valuable to know what books were purchased by the library at what time and to understand their content, there is much more information than what can be collected through these means. For example, the simple presence of the books doesn’t tell us how often they were actually read. Circulation information from before the library changed to a digital system is inconsistent at best, and even a completely consistent record of checkouts would only tell part of the story. As Frank Hermann ‘59 points out in his interview, during this time period, people had to read books on these topics with a degree of secrecy. He explains that it would be potentially dangerous to check out such a book and that “if you did bring it out and go over to a desk and carefully read it” he would “[bring] a cover from another book that I put on it so that you couldn’t see the cover. ... But then put it back in the shelf where you got it from. You didn’t leave it on the desk … and walk away” [16:00]. This quote shows that not only is it unlikely that many queer and/or questioning students actually checked certain books out, but that they had to be secretive about reading them even while they remained in the library.
In addition, a project like this cannot truly explore how people were interacting with these books. When a student read a book framing homosexuality as a disease or as a criminal act, did they take this to be truth? Did they internalize these beliefs? Or did they offer up their own resistance? Obviously, these interactions vary from individual to individual. But there was one striking example of a book that showed resistance. On the title page of the book Female Homosexuality: A Psychodynamic Study, someone wrote the words “Try it! You’ll like it!” in red ink.Clearly, this person, whoever they were, found a way to make this book a site of defiance and pride, recorded physically in this book. However, most other forms of interactions with these books cannot be seen on their pages.
This is why it is so important to pair this physical exploration of these books and this space with oral histories like those which have already been conducted by the Queer Archives Project. Through these, we can see not only what was present, but who was interacting with it, and how. We can also begin to understand the complex and subjective experience that queer members of the Lafayette community have had with these library books throughout the school’s history. We can more fully understand the meaning of these shelves in Skillman library, and more fully appreciate what it may have meant to be one of the people wearing down that carpet.