Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-09-16
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Ally opens Diverse Little Free Library in Norridge
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Former elementary school teacher and healthcare non-profit education manager Lauren Erbach Barnfield is on a mission to bring diverse children's books to her Norridge neighborhood—with a Diverse Little Free Library located in her family's front yard.

This free library is similar to others. However, Erbach Barnfield said she is "intentionally stocking it with books that feature diverse characters—BIPOC, women, LGBTQI individuals and disabled individualsm [as well as books] authored by those individuals."

Erbach Barnfield added that, like the other free libraries, people can take and/or leave books—but she indicated that those who leave books should adhere to her mission of creating a space for diverse stories.

The inspiration for this library stemmed from Erbach Barnfield's stated desire to create a better world. She said that, growing up in a very white Chicago suburb, she was surrounded by people who looked like her.

Moving to Chicago in 2012 changed her view of the world because she experienced diversity for the first time. Erbach Barnfield said she knows she has immense privilege because she is a white cisgender heterosexual woman.

"To say it opened my eyes, changed my heart and guided my passions is an understatement," said Erbach Barnfield.

There were a lot of little moments that led to Erbach Barnfield's awakening, including joining Ravenwood's All Saints Episcopal Church, which was led by lesbian rector, Rev. Dr. Bonnie Perry. ( Editor's note: Perry was recently ordained as the 11th bishop of the Episcopal diocese of Michigan. )

"At church, I was surrounded by really smart activists, people who were queer, people of color and I learned to use my voice to improve the lives of others," said Erbach Barnfield. "I have always given back to my community, but I did not become an activist until I moved to the city. I learned to protest for the first time. I marched for Black Lives Matter and in Chicago's Pride Parade with my Episcopal church. I traveled to Springfield to advocate for gun reform because of the massacre that happened at the Pulse nightclub; I was horrified to see this senseless hate crime happen to so many LGBTQI people of color who were just trying to enjoy an evening out with their friends. My eyes have been opened to all the broken things in this country that need fixing."

Erbach Barnfield met her now-husband Mark Erbach Barnfield in 2015. By 2018, they were married and living in Andersonville in a third floor walk-up with their seven month-old daughter Alice and another baby, Teddy, on the way. This impending arrival was the catalyst for their move to Norridge.

"We wanted to stay close to parts of the city we knew and loved—Andersonville, Ravenswood and Lincoln Square, as well as our church community," said Erbach Barnfield. "We found a house we loved in a walkable neighborhood."

When they moved she noticed that, like her childhood suburb, the town is mostly white. She thought about what impact that would have on her children despite the fact that they were already exposing their children to diverse books and other media. This is how the Diverse Little Free Library was born.

"When Lauren gets an idea in her head there is no stopping her," said Mark Erbach Barnfield. "It is one of the things that impresses me the most about her. I am so proud of her dedication and commitment to making a difference with this library and her other endeavors."

"I believe strongly that building anti-racist, LGBTQI-inclusive foundations in children starts at a young age," said Erbach Barnfield. "Their home libraries should reflect the diversity they will see in the world. If their neighborhood is not diverse, I think it is even more important to get exposure to people who do not look like they do or have the same life experiences. Sometimes the littlest things can make the biggest difference."

Erbach Barnfield said she was inspired by Sarah Kamya, whom she found on Instagram. Kamya recently started her own Little Free Diverse Library in Arlington, Massachusetts. Both Erbach Barnfield and Kamya are intentionally focusing on children's books for their libraries.

"I think that the takeover of Little Free Diverse Libraries and the passion behind each person who sends a book, fills a library or builds their own library is incredible," said Kamya. "Black stories matter and it is important not only for white folk to educate themselves on Black culture and history, but for Black and Brown children to see themselves reflected and celebrated in the books they read. I am so proud of how much this has grown and the community effort that has allowed it to reach so many people including Lauren's library."

"I am inspired by Generation Z's activism and I want that kind of empathy, passion and activism to continue with my children's generation," said Erbach Barnfield. "It is my hope that this library will better equip them to be empathetic adults who work to make the world better than they found it. These are titles I read with my own children and want to share with others."

Among the titles that will be included in the library are Stella Brings the Family, Last Stop on Market Street, Sofia Valdez: Future Prez, Hair Love, Pink is for Boys, PRIDE: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag, Annie's Plaid Shirt, Julian is a Mermaid, Frida, Our Rainbow, Celebrate Your Body, Love Makes a Family, The Proudest Blue, Wonder, Just Ask!, The Hate U Give, A is for Awesome, Fry Bread and Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History.

To date, Erbach Barnfield has amassed more than 100 books and raised enough money to purchase a well-built library that will survive all weather conditions. She said it would be up and running Aug. 7. Her hope is that, through fundraising, she will be able to stock both her and other Little Free Libraries with diverse books for many years.

Erbach Barnfield said that going forward any funds raised to purchase books will be spent at the only Black women-owned bookstore in Chicago, Semicolon.

"Where we choose to spend our money sends a message about our values," said Erbach Barnfield. "If we really believe Black Lives Matter; we have to support Black-owned businesses like Semicolon. Also, they are an incredible bookstore."

To donate, visit See and for more information .

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

MOMBIAN True stories, trans tales and more in new picture books 2020-09-16 - New books can be a delightful relief in these days of quarantine. Here are some of the many new LGBTQ-inclusive picture books that ...

Gay News

Gerber/Hart reveals future plans 2020-09-16 - Gerber/Hart Library and Archives, 6500 N. Clark St., hosted several relatively informal, socially distanced gatherings the weekend of Sept. 12-13 to let community ...

Gay News

Submissions sought for Lambda Literary Awards 2020-09-10 - Submissions are now being sought for the 33rd Annual Lambda Literary Awards, which honors the best of LGBTQ+ literature. Due to COVID-19, the ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Marsha P. Johnson, Anchorage, electoral items, gay author dies 2020-09-02 - Marsha P. Johnson—the iconic transgender activist who was a central figure in New York City's LGBTQ+-liberation movement—will get a monument in her hometown ...

Gay News

E. Patrick Johnson's 'Sweet Tea' book released 2020-08-25 - Northwestern University Press announced the release of the book Sweet Tea, by E. Patrick Johnson, with a foreword by Jane M. Saks. This ...

Gay News

New psychology handbook focuses on sexual, gender minority mental health 2020-08-23 - A comprehensive new psychology book, The Oxford Handbook of Sexual and Gender Minority Mental Health, was recently released—and it features essays from dozens ...

Gay News

Nigerian LGBTQ+ refugee-turned-activist on importance of compassion 2020-08-19 - Edafe Okporo came to the United States from Nigeria in 2016. Now, he's the founder of New York's first full-time LGBTQ+ refugee shelter. ...

Gay News

Trans advocate Jamison Green talks about increasing visibility 2020-08-19 - Jamison Green would really like to go hiking again. He last went on a serious hike three years ago, before he and his ...

Gay News

DANK Haus hosts 'Gay Berlin' forum with author 2020-08-19 - Chicago's DANK Haus German American Cultural Center hosted a virtual discussion event with Dr. Robert Beachy, author of the Randy Shilts Award-winning book ...

Gay News

BOOK REVIEW Butch Cassidy: The True Story of an American Outlaw 2020-08-18 - By Charles Leerhsen $28; Simon & Schuster; 304 pages That man there? He's just a nice guy. Kind and generous, respectful and ...


Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.