The Northeast Indiana Diversity Library (NIDL) is both a free-lending library of over 6300 circulating items and an archive of local and regional gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender (GLBT) history. The Diversity Library, with the help of volunteers, serves over 730 registered patrons who come from all over the Northeast Indiana region and surrounding states. NIDL is supported mainly through donations, fundraisers and grants.
NIDL's claim to being the "Oldest GLBT Collection In Indiana" starts in 1978 when Kent Neuhouser offered to design a check-out system for two shelves of books in the social room of the Open Door Chapel on Leith Street. In September 1982 the Gay and Lesbian Task Fource organization changed their name to GLO and Open Door Chapel collaborated to start a community center with a resource center. The Center was above the gay/lesbian bookstore called Rainbows of Life in a building at 305 W. Jefferson in Fort Wayne, IN and was christened Up The Stairs Community Center. Kent Neuhouser and Deb Overcash began operating the Up The Stairs Community Center Archives & Resource Library (UTS library) at that time with donations from both the bookstore downstairs and people in the community.
In 1984 the lease was lost for that building and for a year the Center was running out of the First Presbyterian Church. During 1985 when the Center found the property at 3426 Broadway in Fort Wayne, where it is still located, the Center filed for and obtained a 501(c)(3) or not-for-profit tax registration certificate under the name of Fort Wayne Community Educational Center Inc. doing-business-as (dba) the Up The Stairs Community Center. From 1985 to 1997 the UTS Library was in a small upstairs back bedroom of the Center on a more or less self-serve basis.
Early in 1997 Scott Mertz was approached to start an advisory board and work on reopening the library in a larger room of the Center. The new Library Advisor Board met on July 22nd and included Greg Kroemer (UTSCC Board Liaison), Scott Mertz and Mary Voors who was an early GLO officer and assisted the library founders in starting the library. A major goal for the Advisory Board and it's policy development was to increase access to the 600 book collection plus archives through electronic cataloging, volunteer staffing and collection development. The UTS Library reopened in the newly repainted room on April 19th 1998 for National Library Week and by February 1999 the Library began circulating materials by computer.
The circulating collection includes sections of books for children, young adults (teens), and adults both in fiction and non-fiction as well as videos and music CDs. The non-fiction sections include arts, biographies, health, political-psychological-social, spirituality and travel. Through one donation in 2000 the Health section was upgraded not only to include AIDS; HIV books but books on holistic health, cancer, stress management, assertiveness and teen health. Periodicals/magazines are considered part of the archives and do not circulate -- scanner copies are available on request for a fee. The inventory and circulation of items and patrons are tracked on computer and a second computer is available as a catalog or for word processing. Books are loaned for a month period and CDs and videos are loaned for a period of one week with a dropbox available each day at least from 7 to 9 PM. The archives include an assortment of mementos as well as three filling cabinets of vertical file type materials.
- Published in About The Library