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Lambda Archives (founded as the Lesbian and Gay Archives of San Diego) is tripling its size this month. The organization signed a new long-term lease agreement with its current landlord, Diversionary Theatre at 4545 Park Blvd. The new facility boasts 3,000 square feet, adding almost three times the space than the collection has occupied. The Archives is officially expanding on May 15, although the grand opening will take place at a later date to be announced soon.
Since 1987, the Lambda Archives has been preserving and teaching the LGBT history of San Diego and the Tijuana Region. The archive holds one of the largest collections of LGBT history in the country, making available the personal documentation of individuals who have lived, worked and been active members of our of the regional community, and the organizational records of business, community and service groups that have served the LGBT community’s needs and interests.
Up until now, primarily researchers and members have had access to the 2,000+ volume library and the public has had the opportunity to view displays at the annual Pride festival. In 2010, Lambda Archives co-sponsored the first ever LGBT Historical Exhibit in San Diego's City Hall titled "A Celebration of San Diego LGBT History.” Building on the success of the downtown exhibit, The Archives announced that the bigger facility will have a dedicated, permanent exhibition space for the first time ever.
“The enthusiasm of the crowds attending last summer’s successful Lambda Archives’ LGBT History exhibit at City Hall indicates San Diego’s hunger to see and learn more about the foundations and struggles of the local LGBT community,” said Lambda Archives Board President Frank Nobiletti. “We are finally able to realize our founder Jess Jessop’s vision for a permanent exhibit space to allow the community greater access to its history.”
In a collaborative effort, Diversionary Theatre will create an opening between its lobby and the new exhibition space to allow all patrons to view the current exhibit at a performance. There will also be a second entrance open to the general public at other hours.
“We are very excited to welcome Lambda Archives as a long-term resident of Diversionary,” said Matthew Thomason, Diversionary Board President. “We look forward to making our audiences aware of the important history we have in our community, and we celebrate this new venture by the Archives.”
“With this new exhibit space, we will now be able to host LGBT historical or academic presentations, and show not only our own collections but important travelling LGBT displays from other archives throughout the nation,” Nobiletti said.
Lambda Archives of San Diego was founded in 1987 as the Lesbian and Gay Historical Society with a mission to "collect, preserve, and teach LGBT history." Jess Jessop incorporated the Lesbian and Gay Archives of San Diego in 1987, starting the collection with materials that he and Doug Moore had gathered. Moore is the curator of the displays featured at the annual LGBT Pride festival.
In recent years Nobiletti has overseen volunteer efforts that involve a large body of students from SDSU, UCSD and Point Loma Nazarene College. Volunteers at The Archives do hands-on work year round, including clipping, cataloguing, archiving, processing collections, event production, and public speaking. As noted by archivist Kelly Revak in the Winter 2010-2011 newsletter of Lambda Archives, “Several dedicated volunteers have undertaken and nearly completed the herculean task of updating the records for the more than 3500 books in our library.”
At this year’s Heroes and Trailblazers Gala, Board President Tom Reise presented a $20,000 grant on behalf of CICA (California Institure of Contemporary Arts) for the much anticipated digitization project. The benefit, which honors pioneers of the LGBT community of San Diego, raised another $21,000 to help with the expansion and future projects.
This move represents a vital step for Lambda Archives and will provide the opportunity for continued growth and will foster greater historical and artistic collaboration between Lambda Archives and Diversionary Theatre. Lambda Archives has several volunteer positions available in connection with the transition, on-going archive work, and the digitization project. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org and express your interest.
More information about Lambda Archives: www.lambdaarchives.org