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Shane T

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NIDL needs help NOW!


For more than 20 years, the board has worked diligently to maintain and enhance the diversity library which was originally part of the Up The Stairs Community Center here in Fort Wayne. When the center's board decided to disband the center 10 years ago, they decided to keep the library afloat under the new name of Northeast Indiana Diversity Library.

In the ensuing 10 years, we saw the library grow from 650 circulating items to over 7300 items. We have also grown the archives to include a large Women's Studies collection, the personal collections of both local feminist Joan Uebelhoer and the late Fort Wayne Theater personality Larry Life among others. During that time, we were fortunate to develop a working relationship with the Helmke Library at iPFW who provided us space to pull the collection out of storage a make it available to both students and the general public as well.

Unfortunately, in March of 2018, we were informed by the management of the Helmke Library that, with the conversion of IPFW to Purdue Fort Wayne, we would either have to turn over our entire collection to them or leave campus entirely. Our board made the decision to leave campus entirely and the collection has been in storage since.

We have now reached a point in time where we are faced with having to possibly make a decision that we don't want to make. Currently, we have enough funding to cover the next 5-6 months. We have tried applying for grants and are looking at fundraising events. After that, we will be forced to make other arrangements for the collections, quite possibly out of Fort Wayne. This means all of the local, state and some national history we have collected may be lost.

We need your help NOW with a donation to our operating fund until such time we can find a new home and work to get a flow of income, you would help save a big part of LGBTQ and Women's History. You can either send a check to NIDL P.O. Box 5537 Fort Wayne, IN 46895 or by going to the Paypal link on the homepage.

Many thanks!

After Dark's 30th Annual AIDS Benefit: One Million Voices Strong

After Dark's 30th Annual AIDS Benefit: One Million Voices Strong

After Dark's 30th Annual AIDS Benefit

We can fully eradicate the spread of HIV within this generation. Health departments across the country say it’s possible. We know that’s a hefty claim to make, but there is science to back that claim. It's about time that we are able to say that there's light at the end of the tunnel, as the AIDS epidemic is 38 years old this year. Through the raising of funds for HIV and AIDS education, prevention, and awareness, we can say that we not only helped educate our community on how to prevent the spread of HIV, but we can also fight the stigma attached to it.

On Saturday, March 23rd 2019, Babylon/After Dark will commemorate our 30th Annual AIDS Benefit. The staff and friends of Babylon/After Dark have generously hosted this event for the past 30 years. This year the benefit will take place in the Tiger Room with entry accessible through the Babylon/After Dark dance floor.

Tickets are $5 and are available at the door. If you want to purchase tickets in advance, there's a link available.

More than $970,000 has been raised by our benefits for AIDS awareness over the past 29 years, and all money has stayed in the Fort Wayne area. As this is our 30th year providing funds for AIDS and HIV awareness and education in Northeast Indiana, we want to make this an historical effort. We know that it will take a lot of support to obtain this year’s goal of $30,000.

We are setting the goal at $30,000 for two reasons. Firstly, it's $1,000 per year we have been hosting this benefit. Secondly, and most importantly, we are hoping to hit the $1,000,000 mark for the funds raised at After Dark for AIDS and HIV awareness. Every dollar speaks for the person who generously donated. We are One Million Voices Strong!

We are, once again, partnering with the Positive Resource Connection to raise money for their programs. The Positive Resource Connection has served those living with HIV and AIDS in Northeast Indiana for decades.

What are we looking for? Well, we need donations for door prizes, raffles, auction items, as well as monetary donations. We will also have a hospitality table where we will be happy to place your business cards and informational/promotional literature.

All donated items can be picked up at your convenience prior to the March 15th deadline, should you not be able to send or deliver them. Monetary contributions can be by check payable to “Positive Resource Connection.” All checks will be given to the Positive Resource Connection on Monday, March 25, 2019.

There are a lot of things that are new this year, including our twist on a silent auction and a champagne social hour. There will also be raffles to win some donated high-ticket items and a live action being run by the two funniest ‘gurls’ around!

Also new this year is a special Auction Preview Party the day before the benefit, where you can enjoy the cash bar and complimentary light refreshments in addition to having the opportunity to put in advance bids on the items for the next day as well as bid on Auction Preview Party exclusive items! Tickets will be available for this preview on March 1st and are very limited.

The benefit will feature light appetizers, a live auction, lots of surprises, as well as drag entertainment and fun. We will still do what we do best by entertaining the crowd with our talented entertainers. You, your friends, and your co-workers will be amazed by the variety that this show is sure to provide!

We thank you in advance for your generosity. Please know that any donation, whether monetary or otherwise, will impact our community directly. Your help is greatly appreciated!


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Diversity Library on the move once more

This article was published in the April 14th, 2018 edition of the Journal Gazette.:

Scott Mertz, director of the Northeast Indiana Diversity Library, packs up the collection housed in the basement of the Helmke Library after the library was asked to either deed its collection to Purdue Fort Wayne or leave. 

Diversity Library on the move once more

The Journal Gazette


The Northeast Indiana Diversity Library is looking for a new home.

Scott Mertz, the library's director, said that's OK. The clearinghouse for books, videos, newsletters and other information about LGBTQ history and issues in Indiana has lived a nomadic life, he said, and the next move is another step in its journey.

But the next stop for the library isn't clear.

“We're probably going to have to go into storage, but we're looking for a home,” Mertz said this week. “This is the sixth time I've moved this library.”

The library opened eight years ago at IPFW and since 2011 has used a 950-square-foot space in the basement of the university's Helmke Library. The volunteer organization has been run separately from the IPFW library as a resource for students and others to learn more about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues as well as a place for friends to talk and groups to meet.

Mertz said university officials, citing IPFW's July 1 transition to Purdue University Fort Wayne, recently asked the diversity library to consider moving. Either that, he said, or deed the nearly 7,000-piece collection to the university.

Both options were considered, Mertz said, but volunteers opted to move from its free space rather than give up control to an entity they were not sure would keep the library or run it properly.

“We were like, 'We're not quite ready to just give you our library,'” he said. “We still are at the point where we feel we need to keep our history and not give it to them.”

An IPFW spokeswoman said the basement space “has experienced serious flooding recently,” and taking over the library's collection was a way to save it.

“Because the university doesn't own the NIDL collection, we can't invest resources to move and house it in a better environment,” Nicole Hahn said in an email. “The university offered to take the collection and use funds from the collection management budget to move and preserve the collection, and make it accessible.

“Unfortunately, that was not a viable option for the NIDL.”

Hahn did not respond to a question about how the transition to Purdue University Fort Wayne might have been tied to the request to the diversity library.

The diversity library stopped circulating materials March 31, and volunteers are packing items to be moved by May 31.

The diversity library began life as two shelves of books at the Open Door Chapel on Leith Street in 1978, according to the library's website. Four years later, the Gay and Lesbian Task Force partnered with the chapel to create a community center on West Jefferson Center.

After at least one move, the center filed for nonprofit status. Mertz began working with the library in 1997.

Those who have used the library say its collection of books and other items detailing topics ranging from religion to legal options for gay couples is valuable.

Open space to talk or hold meetings is also valuable, they said.

Veronica West, a transgender woman from Silver Lake who attended meetings at the library, said she felt welcome there.

She said the library houses a unique history not housed in other places.

“The library is a resource for everyone,” she said. “Every time we lose a library, we lose. This library's special.”

Nikki Fultz, director of Fort Wayne Pride, agrees.

“It is very unfortunate that the Northeast Indiana Diversity Library is losing its space at the Helmke Library, but I definitely understand why they are leaving,” she said in an email. “The resources housed through NIDL are a very important part of the LGBTQ community and our history.

“I really hope that NIDL can find a new home, but until then our area has lost a great resource not only for LGBTQ folks, but our community in general.”

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A New Building Fund Drive

nidl logo

The Northeast Indiana Diversity Library (NIDL) houses the oldest LGBTQ collection in Indiana.  Over 7,300 items are in the NIDL circulating collection of books and video tapes.  Our archives hold local and regional LGBTQ history that ranges from articles and newsletters to pictures, t-shirts, buttons and more.  The archives are precious history that would otherwise be discarded or hidden from view if it were not carefully kept and preserved in this library.   In 2010 the Fort Wayne Community Educational Center Inc. voted to concentrate on becoming a library and adopted the Northeast Indiana Diversity Library as its mission.

 Library Mission Statement:

 The mission of the Northeast Indiana Diversity Library is to serve the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender community and its allies in the Fort Wayne and the surrounding area by acquiring, preserving and providing access to materials that embody the culture and history of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons, with a focus on items of local or regional interest whenever possible. Through sound management of resources our hopes are that the collection will contain the knowledge to dispel homophobia, encourage the exploration of diversity and promote personal discovery. 

Our plans for the funds we raise include the following:

1.       Purchase a building of 2000 to 3000 square feet
2.       Do any necessary remodeling/updating so building will fit the       
           established plan
3.      Continue to expand the collection
4.      Continue digitization program to preserve archive materials.

 Ideally, finding a building in the 2000 to 3000 sq. ft. range will not only allow us to more effectively display our collection, but also offer meeting space, as possible, to outside groups for their meetings, as well as giving us the opportunity to grow to meet our long range goals.

Contribute through our GoFundMe campaign. Click here!

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