Meet Brenda Antrim! An RT Member Profile

By A. Faulkner

What is your role in the GLBTRT?

I’m a member of the Over the Rainbow Committee and have been a quiet member of the RT for several years.

What does the GLBTRT mean to you?

Visibility, both to find others like me and to show others who are unlike me that we’re here, a proud part of ALA.  Through the RT, it means an ability and willingness to provide great service and information to LGBTQIA people in public, college, corporate, and special libraries across the country. In my professional life, it is a flag I post in my office window to show my students it’s okay to talk with me about issues of gender and sexuality. Personally, it’s a way I can openly be ‘who I am’.

Are you involved in ALA in other ways?

RUSA and ACRL provide information that I use often in my work, but the GLBTRT is the only group that has inspired me to volunteer.  Life is busy, for all of us, but this is important.

What professional work do you perform?

I’m the Collection Development Librarian and Department Chair for the Santa Monica College Library.  I also provide instruction and reference services, put up displays, and represent the library on the campus Curriculum Committee, Open Education Resources task force, Student Veterans Advisory Committee, and Academic Senate Student Emergency Relief Fund.  I am also the sole librarian on the English Research Essay Prize Contest selection committee.  As Chair, I coordinate classes and reference desk coverage with the Director, chair hiring committees for, and train, new part-time librarians, liaise with other departments and Academic Affairs, including new initiatives like Academic Pathway planning, and work on special projects to keep upgrading and improving our library service.  So, a little of everything, but cataloging, really!

What would you like to share about your personal life?

I love to travel (have been to Greece, the United Kingdom, France, and the Netherlands in the past five years, and will be going to Japan this year).  I’ve lived in or visited 32 of the 50 United States.  I’m a US Air Force veteran (and the daughter and sister of US Marine Corps and US Army veterans). I love cats, black tea with cinnamon, anime, writing, reading, and I know that bisexual invisibility is a Real Thing.  If I wasn’t a college librarian, I’d be a YA librarian in a public library… and that’s my retirement plan!

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of others. I’m a patriot, and I am reassured by the activism I have seen coming forth as we remind those currently in power that the heart of America resides within Americans, not those who hold political office. People marching in the streets, EPA and National Parks and NASA scientists going rogue on Twitter, queer partiers dancing on the new Vice President’s block – these people renew my faith in my country, and I am SO proud of all of them.  Personally, I’m proud that I’ve managed to live as an out queer woman for over thirty years, in several different states, and hopefully been able to help some young people along the way.

Who inspires you?

My friends inspire me.  My friends have been stalked, shot at, beaten, and threatened, and they still say what needs to be said and do what needs to be done.  I am inspired by those who take risks to do what’s right.

What are your goals? (Professional and/or personal.)

My goal is to help my students. Whether that’s by showing them that a first-generation college student, veteran, queer woman can make a success of her life by simply not giving up, or by inspiring them to think about the world from a different, critical perspective, or just by encouraging them to keep trying when they feel like quitting, I want to help make that difference.  Personally, my goal is to survive, stay truthful, and never give in to depression or be paralyzed into inaction.

What do you think (or predict) is the future of libraries?

I think people will always need help understanding the chaos of information, and will always need a place. I think we’ll have noisier, hands-on places, with fewer print books and more tables, with spots to access information from a multitude of sources, and information specialists (librarians) to help people navigate the information flood.  I don’t think we’ll ever be completely virtual.  I don’t think print books will disappear.  I don’t think Wiki will take over the world.  And I don’t think everything will be available on Google.  But I do think it will become increasingly difficult to tell the truth from the lies, and it will, in part, fall on the librarians to help evaluate, screen, and frame information.

In what direction would you like the GLBTRT to move in the future?

I’d like to see some consolidation, perhaps less duplication of effort, and I think the RT leadership is heading that way. I’d like to see the ALA as a whole take some stands, especially now, with the denial of science, the stifling of free exchange of information, and the attacks on vulnerable populations.  I would like to see a name change, from GLBT to LGBTQIA; inclusion and awareness literally encoded in our name.

If you could be transported into the fictional world of any book, where would you go?

Hmmm…  Either Manhattan in Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series. (I’ve always had a hankering to visit the court of Olympus!)  Or the Chicago in Jim Butcher’s Dresden series.  (But only if I had a bodyguard!)

What would be the title of your autobiography?

I Can Do It (Apparently, this was my first sentence, according to my mother.)

If you could only choose one song to play every time you entered a room for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Augh!  Tough question!  Probably Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saëns. Or anything by Smashmouth. :)

If you could have a dinner party with 5 culturally or historically significant figures, living or dead, who would you invite?

Edward R. Murrow, Hypatia of Alexandria, Leonardo Da Vinci, Nellie Bly, and Felix Mendelssohn.

What is the meaning of life?



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