ilume developer Luke Crosland donated 6,000 books acquired from the Stonewall Museum and Archives in Fort Lauderdale
When ilume donates 6,000 volumes to the Oak Lawn Library on Sept. 20, Dallas will have the second-largest collection of LGBT reading material in the world, after the Stonewall National Museum and Archives located in Fort Lauderdale.
Luke Crosland, developer of ilume and ilume Park on Cedar Springs Road, acquired 6,000 books from the Fort Lauderdale museum. He then worked with Cynthia Smoot of Gangway Advertising to bring those books to Dallas.
“The Stonewall Museum is well known in the LGBT community for its archives, so it receives many donations throughout the year from people all across the country,” Smoot said.
She said over the years, Stonewall Museum has received duplicates of 6,000 books, giving the Fort Lauderdale library a surplus. That’s where Crosland came in.
Crosland said he made a donation two years ago to the Oak Lawn Branch of The Dallas Public Library to help build an LGBT literature collection there. Recently, “Through a resident of ilume, we learned of the Stonewall Museum collection availability and we believed the community and library would benefit from being able to expand its collection in one fell swoop,” Crosland added.
Crosland was in Fort Lauderdale looking at property. While he was there, he met with David Jobin, executive director of the Stonewall Museum. That’s how he learned about the duplicate books in the library’s collection.
“I believe that this is a significant milestone for Dallas in being able to house the largest collection of GLBT literature outside of the Stonewall
Museum in the United States,” Crosland said.
Ronald Radwanski, owner of the illume Gallerie, worked with Jobin and Angie Bartula, manager of the Oak Lawn branch of the Dallas Public Library, to facilitate the donation process.
To get the books here, Crosland flew two associates to Miami where they rented a truck, Radwanski said. Before loading the truck, he said, they pulled out several hundred of the most current titles as well as about 100 vintage books.
Bartula said they first heard about the availability of the collection in March but things began moving forward quickly in August.
Dallas Public Library Director Jo Giudice helped negotiate the logistics.
“There was some concern because it’s a very large collection,” Bartula said. “Oak Lawn doesn’t have a lot of space.”
She said the LGBT collection now is half non-fiction, adding, “We’re excited to have some newer fiction titles.”
Bartula said the Stonewall Museum people helped by pulling out what she calls “The Hot 500,” which will be among the books available when the collection is dedicated on Saturday.
Because of the amount of staff time it takes to enter books into the system, the initial collection will be loaned on an honor system, she said.
Bartula is excited to have these books available for Pride weekend and said she’s having a blast just going through all of the books she’ll be able to offer.
“I haven’t even had time to explore the vintage collection yet,” she said.
She said she’ll put as many books out in the stacks as she can, and then talk to other branches about adding books on their shelves. The North Oak Cliff branch also offers an LGBT collection. Many LGBT titles are kept downtown as well, though not in one designated section.
The Stonewall National Museum and Archives has about 25,000 books in its collection dating from the 1950s to the present. The collection began in 1973 by a student at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. He stored the collection in his family home in Hollywood, Fla.
When he moved to New York in 1984, the collection had grown too large to take with him, so he found a permanent home for it at the Metropolitan Community Church.
After more growth and several more moves, the museum, archives and library now offers a distinguished author lecture series, film programs, writer’s workshops, art exhibitions and has a community space that receives more than 8,000 visitors a year.
Stonewall National Museum’s curator and director, David Joban, will attend a cocktail party in the lobby of ilume Park, 3109 Douglas Ave. at 6 p.m. on Sept. 19. The formal dedication of what will be known as the ilume® LGBT Collection takes place at the Oak Lawn branch, 4100 Cedar Springs at 11 a.m. on Sept. 20.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 19, 2014.