The Quatrefoil Library

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Coffee House Press | 14101

Minnpost has been to visit The Quatrefoil Library, an entirely-gay lending library which exists within a main library. The library contains more than 14,000 books and thousands of videos, audio recordings, periodicals, artworks, and archival materials, and was established by David Irwin and Dick Hewetson in 1983.

The majority of materials are available for lending with a yearly membership. Quatrefoil is entirely volunteer-run, and open seven days a week.

I find a small, one-fold satin-gloss pamphlet called “Marketplace” – only four issues in 1980 – interesting for these reasons. It’s a guide to gay-friendly commercial resources in the Twin Cities, probably printed in a very small run and almost certainly limited in its availability. The cover of the first issue is a sensitively rendered drawing of a young man, available through a local portrait artist’s gallery. It’s also decorated with a lambda, the Greek letter that was a popular, pre-rainbow flag symbol of gay activism in the 1970s. There’s such an idealism in the necessity of such an undertaking – a listings of businesses for “US,” it reads – but also in the fact that this tiny facet of the local gay culture was preserved and is now available to anyone who’d like to look at it.

SP

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