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Gerber/Hart board president outlines plans at fundraiser
by Matt Simonette
2018-09-24

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Gerber/Hart Library and Archives, 6500 N. Clark St., held its Fall 2018 fundraiser, "Open History, Open Future," at the library on Sept. 22. About 75 supporters attended.

Board President John D'Emilio briefly outlined Gerber/Hart's goals and achievements in brief remarks, noting that the library "is in a really good stage of its history."

He praised Gerber/Hart's "solid core of volunteers" and added that, "The collections are in really good order, better than they've ever been."

Among the goals he outlined is an ambitious project to digitize several runs of LGBT publications from the '70s, '80s and '90s, an effort whose first phase will likely cost about $7,000. Guests at the Sept. 22 event pledged enough to cover about half that cost.

"The digitization project would not only save us from the reality of deteriorating paper. … It allows us to index these publications as well," D'Emilio said.

Other fundraising goals for Gerber/Hart would cover additional high-quality boxes and shelving space; finding aids to help patrons better learn about and access the library's resources; and a comprehensive mapping project highlighting locations that are significant for Chicago LGBT history.

D'Emilio, who only recently began his tenure as board president, also celebrated his 70th birthday that evening. During his remarks, he noted that it had been about 45 years since he first committed to studying LGBT history.

"Believe me, I had no idea what kind of path it was going to take me on," he said.

After his public remarks, he praised his predecessor as board president, Carrie Barnett, who he said worked diligently alongside the board to shepherd the library through a time of crisis several years ago.

"It was the right time for me to take this on, and the right time for the organization," D'Emilio said. "Carrie created the right foundation."


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