Radical Librarianism

What does “Radical Reference” mean to you?

Recently I had the opportunity to explore this question in a Radical Librarianism class at Simmons CollegRadicale taught by Laura Saunders. The discussion revolved around the challenges and obstacles we may face when attempting to serve within a “radical” framework. Myself, along with Brian Flaherty, reference librarian at New England Law, and Alana Kumbier– librarian at Hampshire College and author of Queering the Archivegathered to talk to a class of MLIS students on what it means to serve radical. The session was focused on human sexuality in academic or specialized libraries, but there was it turns out there much cross over into a public library setting when it come to serving in a “radical” manner. Flaherty, the Sex Law Librarian, sent me a list of topics and questions with issues such as controlled vocabulary, language, censorship, and internal biases. My library partner at the Center for Sex and Culture discussed these topics and more, and what it means for us to serve radical. Our answers to Brian’s questions can be seen here.

Connect with the panelists:

Laura Saunders

Brian Flaherty-Sex Law Librarian

Alana Kumbier

Connect with the Digital Transgender Archive


Internet Archive




The Center for Sex and Culture is having Valentine Book Sale, Cocktail Party, and Open Mic, Thursday, February 12 at 7PM. Nothing says I love you like SMUT! This year give your Valentine the gift that keeps on giving, erotica, literature, how to, or just some straight up porn! We will have a special V-Day Cocktail, some sinfully sweet treats, a naughty Valentine card making station, and an Open Mic- tell us all about your best or worst Valentine (performances are welcome too).

Give some love to your local sex library by buying some books!

A message from Carol Queen, PhD- On GiveOUTDay

Join us on #GiveOUTDay May 15th, 2014! Spread the word!


In 1994 my partner Robert and I (I’m author and sexologist Carol Queen, PhD) were visiting our friend Betty Dodson, sometimes known as “the Mother of Masturbation,” in her NY home. Why didn’t she bring her fabulous Bodysex workshop to the Bay Area? we asked. There wasn’t an appropriate venue there, she said. And then she said the words that begin the story of The Center for Sex & Culture: “You kids should start a place.”

Betty was right! Between us, we had connections in many sexuality-related communities. We both have doctorates in sexology; I worked at the legendary Good Vibrations and wrote for Spectatormagazine, which had evolved from the old Berkeley Barb; I wrote stories and essays for zines and anthologies too, and was working on my first book, Exhibitionism for the Shy; we traveled around the US teaching, speaking, and meeting people from many sexual worlds, and were ourselves comfortable participants in many of these; and we’d both been directors at SF Sex Info. Together, we could relate and identify with much of the range of sexuality.

It took over 5 years of talking up the idea, but at last an angel donor helped us get over the fence: We corresponded with the IRS, got our non-profit status, and began looking for a space. Interns and donated materials came our way even before we had a room to house them. When we did get a place, we invited every sexually interested person over 18 to be part of it: as member, performer, teacher, patron, life-long learner. Academics and journalists began to visit to use our library and inspect our collections. Librarians descended on us, helping us to organize the many books and journals we’d amassed. (We believe we now have the largest publicly-accessibly sex library in the country — maybe the world!)

We host sex ed classes, and also cultural events. I deeply feel that, in the absence of good sex ed in the US, many of us learn about sex and develop our attitudes about sexuality via culture, and we want to participate fully in that discussion. We also support culture-making: through writing classes for sex workers; our award-winning Erotic Reading Circle; burlesque and dance classes; and our annual Nude Aid artmaking day. We also support community-based organizations, from BDSM/leather, to sex worker support groups, to the unique safer sex strategies of the SF Jacks. Our collections include Buzz Bense’s HIV/AIDS poster collection (these hang in our gallery from November 2013 through January 2014), materials from Pat Califia and Larry Townsend, a full run ofOn Our Backs magazine, Scarlot Harlot’s searchable database of sex worker interviews, and so much more.

We are all-volunteer, a labor of love and community for everyone involved. The next wave of core staff — a new librarian, a gallerist, archivists, and each year’s group of interns — came to us because of the cultural impacts of our collections; they have made them increasingly organized and accessible, and are helping to turn CSC into a venue for erotic artists who have few other places to exhibit their work.

Our first publication was SAFE SEX BANG, a catalog of Buzz Bense’s aforementioned safer sex posters, in early 2014. We dream of publishing more books, thus helping more non-Bay Area people join the conversation. We also want to broadcast many of our events online, so we are even more a global community sex center than a local one. In the meantime, we hope you will visit us when you come to San Francisco! And thank you so very much for reading about our history and supporting us. EVERY donation helps us keep our doors open and take care of the materials our community has entrusted to us.

Here’s more information about a recent CSC story, collected by our friends at Horizons Foundation. Please read and share this article about what The Center means to two of our very favorite comrades and community members, Ingrid and Alexandria:https://www.facebook.com/centersexculture/posts/10154059497755276

Wishing you pleasure and all the sex information you need!

–Carol, Robert, Dina, Marlene, Dorian, Ian, Anissa, Gina, Ingrid, Alexandria, & the rest of your friends at the Center for Sex & Culture

The Little Sex Library that Could

BeTheChange_email_SMThe California Library Association is utilizing a crowdsource voting system, allowing CLA members to weigh in on what sessions will be offered at this years annual conference, November in Oakland. Crowdsource the Vote!

You can view sessions by conference track or tags, and you can also search by any of the text in the proposals (title, presenters, description).

The Center for Sex and Culture has submitted a proposal for this years conference, please consider voting for our session.

The best Little Sex Library that Could!

The Center for Sex & Culture (CSC), located in the heart of San Francisco, has a mission to provide judgment-free education, cultural events, a library and archive, and resources to audiences across the sexual and gender spectrum. As a grassroots non-profit organization with a public library we constantly evaluate and discuss the most effective ways to reach current and potential new patrons, while maintaining our survival in an escalating economic climate. However, with sex being a tantalizing and taboo subject we are hindered from displaying and communicating many of our resources in print and digital media because of clear age restrictions, but also because of current public perception of sexuality as deviant, offensive, and shameful. Attempting to balance thoughtful outreach and promotion, to be advocates for change, to organize materials with no clear cataloging categories, to maintain the day to day operations, and to manage an all-volunteer/intern staff, forces us to constantly change and evolve. We explore change by not only being librarians, but by being artists, participants, community organizers and social activists. These labels help us stretch out of our potential boxes and creatively reach others. The CSC library has also found many ways to explore change by utilizing current technology trends, such as social media, cloud computing, and open source softwares to organize, promote and manage our library.


Anissa Malady, Librarian, Center for Sex and Culture
Ian Callaghan, Center for Sex & Culture
CSC Library IMG_0323

Panel Discussion: Community Cataloging Sexually Diverse Zines

The Center for Sex & Culture Library/Archive @ 12th Annual SF Zine Fest! Aug 31st 1:00pm-2:00pm

The Center for Sex & Culture presents “Send Us Your Sick & Twisted: Community Cataloging Sexually Diverse Zines at the CSC.” A panel discussion on the advocacy to preserve and present deviant zines at CSC while engaging the community. Presented by:  Anissa Malady, MLIS, Resident Librarian; Tess McCarthy, MLIS, Resident Archivist and, Ian Callahan, Community Cataloger.

 The CSC Zineography project began when the Library/Archive crew uncovered a wealth of erotic, nasty (in a good way), subversive, sexual health, gender bending, queer, sex worker related zines, booklets and pamphlets. The artist in all of us fell in love with this collection and became instantly attached to getting this material cataloged and curated as a way to make them available to the community.

PornoPen4The growing amount of material in the zine collection required assistance in our cataloging efforts, which is when I recalled how material was being cataloged and culled for metadata at the San Francisco State University, American Poetry Archive (APA). As an intern at the APA I was able to take part in what they termed “community cataloging.” One student would be assigned one poet- they would research that poet, listen to the large amount of digital recordings from that particular poet that are part of the Poetry Archives holdings-  the student would take detailed cataloging notes that would then be turned into HTML metadata used in the APA’s growing digital archive.and became instantly attached to getting this material cataloged and curated as a way to make them available to the community.

This method of “community cataloging” led to richer detail and a higher wealth of metadata to create searchable records from. The better the metadata the greater the access. At CSC we applied this same methodology. The amazing volunteers, some with official library training and others who have become “accidental librarians,” have become amazing community catalogers and have created a valuable catalog with detailed information about each zine.

The hope for this project is inclusion in a larger community of Zine Libraries, by means of a union catalog (a combined library catalog describing the collections of a number of libraries). Currently we are working in a newly formed metadata schema called xZINECOREx- developed by Milo Miller, one of the co-founders of QZAP, the Queer Zine Archive Project and other Zine libraries. ZINECORE will allow for greater access by means of combined forces. Having Zine libraries use the same method or standards of cataloging is crucial to us all becoming part of a union catalog and creating greater access of information to a wider community of users.

To hear more about our Community Cataloging project join us this Saturday, August Aug 31st 1:00pm-2:00pm at the 12th Annual SF Zine Fest!

To get involved in the community cataloging and the CSC Zine Project e-mail-   library@sexandculture.org

Also, if you have a website with links to zine libraries, please add ours:

The Center for Sex & Culture, 1349 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103 |

CSC Library/Archive

CSC Zineography

Zine Catalog

Join us at the  12th Annual SF Zine Fest! The Bay Area’s Premiere Zine Festival

Aug 31st 1:00pm-2:00pm

San Francisco County Fair Building

1199 9th Ave and Lincoln Way

(in Golden Gate Park)

Free Admission!

SF Zine Fest on Facebook


Center for Sex & Culture

CSC Zineography

 and don’t forget the annual post-party at Mission Comics & Art.


12th Annual SF Zine Fest: CSC Library & Archive Panel Discussion

Send Us Your Sick & Twisted

The Center for Sex & Culture presents “Send Us Your Sick & Twisted: Community Cataloging Sexually Diverse Zines at the CSC.” A panel discussion on the advocacy to preserve and present deviant zines at CSC while engaging the community. Presented by:  Anissa Malady, MLIS, Resident Librarian at CSC; Tess McCarthy, MLIS, Resident Archivist at CSC and, Ian Callahan, Community Cataloger.

Join us for a panel discussion about the importance of community and libraries- and how CSC has approached the community to help us catalog it’s amazing collection of sex related zines.

San Francisco Zine Fest

The Bay Area’s Premiere Zine Festival

Aug 31st + Sept 1st 2013

San Francisco County Fair Building

1199 9th Ave and Lincoln Way

(in Golden Gate Park)

Free Admission!

SF Zine Fest on Facebook


Center for Sex & Culture

CSC Zineography

Illustrations by Tess McCarthy


Pride Day Open House: Library Book Sale & Fairoaks Project Closing Reception

June 30th 1-4

CSC Library: 2nd Annual Book Sale!


The CSC is proud to announce our 2nd Annual  Library Book Sale/Open House.  The 2nd Annual Book Sale will feature even more rare finds and wonderful smutty treasures than our first! Up for purchase  will be all the items from our online Alibirs Bookstore, duplicates of rare magazines and serials important to the LGBTIQA community, plus items such as, Heavy Metal, Penthouse, Playboy, erotic literature, art and photography, and much much more! All prices will be negotiable and proceeds will directly benefit the CSC Library & Archive.

Please stop in on Pride Day to enjoy the library, the art and being with great, smart, creative people at the Center for Sex and Culture– your lil’ local sex community center.

The Center for Sex and Culture Library & Archive was born from, and is sustained by, donated collections of books, magazines, journals, zines, comics, dissertations, works of art, videos, memorabilia, and personal papers of key members of the community.

For information about last

years sale: The Center for Sex & Culture’s Spring Smut Sale: Own a Part of Our Sexual History written for the The SF Weekly by Alexis Coe

Fairoaks Project: Photographs by Frank Melleno, A Rare Look inside a SF Gay Bathhouse in 1978, Curated by Gary Freeman

Frank Melleno’s Polaroid photography captured an extraordinary glimpse into pre-AIDS gay sexual culture. Melleno was part-owner and night manager of The Fairoaks Hotel, a unique San Francisco bathhouse operating from 1977 to 1979.  His candid images are remarkable, documenting the social and sexual behavior with celebration and no apology.

 The Fairoaks was owned and operated by a gay commune, lending a co

unter-culture approach to the establishment. There were monthly theme parties including costume and “Open Door” parties, when room doors would be removed from hinges.  Many images contain nudity and erotic scenes.

The restored images, known as The Fairoaks Project, were well received at Los Angeles venues Highways and drkrm/Gallery. The Advocate and Lambda Literary have written articles on The Fairoaks Project.

archive (1)

Collecting Sex Materials for Libraries

image by AM

Directly from Scott Vieira and Michelle Martinez, assistant professors at Sam Houston State University- who are seeking participants for a survey concerning sex material in libraries. Please find the time to participate-


In an attempt to understand librarian and library staff attitudes towards collecting sexual materials for libraries, librarians Scott Vieira and Michelle Martinez, assistant professors at Sam Houston State University, are asking for survey participants and offering the chance to win one of four available $25 gift certificates to Amazon.com.

All librarians and library staff from any type of library are encouraged to participate.

The survey, “Collecting Sex Materials for Libraries: An Opinion Survey,” takes anywhere from between 25-40 minutes depending on reading speed, and consists of 49 questions. We’re looking for opinions on how librarians and library staff members feel about things such as 50 Shades of Gray, Hustler, gay erotica, and other items that are often considered contentious.

Participants’ privacy will be kept and personal information is not required unless the participant wants to register for the drawing. Any personal information will be deleted once the drawing has been held within one week at the closing of the survey. Participants will be emailed the gift certificate.

Participation in the survey is strictly voluntary. Participants can exit the survey at any time without penalty.

By consenting to participate through accessing and submitting the survey, you authorize the use of your data to be compiled for possible articles, without any personally identifying information as may have been submitted for the prize drawing.


If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Scott Vieira at 936-294-3743 or svieira@shsu.edu or Michelle Martinez at 936-294-1629 or mmartinez@shsu.edu.

Or by mail:

Attn: Scott Vieira or Michelle Martinez, SHSU Box 2179, Huntsville, TX 77341

Scott Vieira

Assistant Professor &

Electronic Resources Librarian

Michelle M. Martínez

Assistant Professor & Reference Librarian

This survey complies with Sam Houston State University’s Internal Review Board’s protocol 2012-10-726. 

CSC Zineography: Community Cataloging Project


The CSC Library & Archive is embarking on a community cataloging adventure, and we need your help to make it happen.

Our library and archive is home to an amazing, unique, wonderfully unusual and, as always, sexual– zine collection. We have begun the process of scanning, gaining permissions, and cataloging this collection. Our hope is to inlist members of the community to help with the important job of cataloging these unique artifact of sexual and cultural heritage.

Zine topics range from, sexual health, safe sex, sex worker issues, queer and gender identity, body acceptance, transgender culture, BDSM/kink, and LGBTIQA subject matter.

The goal of the CSC Zineography includes fundraising efforts to house and store the zines for long term preservation, continual scanning and digitization of  the collection for display in digital format, and to create a usable and searchable catalog of our zine collection. We believe that community cataloging is truly the best way to achieve our goals and to provide the best form of access to this important collection.

Contact us to find out more information about this exciting project and cataloging opportunities. library@sexandculture.org