Celeste West

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Celeste (Celestia) West (November 24, 1942 – January 3, 2008) was an American librarian and lesbian author, known for her alternative viewpoints in librarianship and her authorship of books about lesbian sex and polyfidelity. She herself was polyamorous.[1]


West was born in Pocatello, Idaho.[2][3][4] She earned her BA in journalism from Portland State University,[5] and her master's in Library Service from Rutgers University in 1968.[6] She then moved to San Francisco, where she worked at the headquarters of the Bay Area Reference Center at the San Francisco Public Library.[7] She was the second editor of its magazine, Synergy, which won two ALA awards but lost its funding in 1973 after West published an unflattering photograph of Richard Nixon.[8][9]

In 1972, West co-founded Booklegger Press with her partner at the time, librarian Sue Critchfield, and Valerie Wheat. The press's first publication was an anthology edited by West and Elizabeth Katz entitled Revolting Librarians. The anthology, which described biases in contemporary library practices and proposed alternative library models, sold 15,000 copies in three years.[4] She also published the feminist library journal Booklegger Magazine from 1973 through 1976.[10] Between 1989 and 2006, West worked as the library director at the San Francisco Zen Center.[11]

In 1977, West became an associate of the Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press (WIFP).[12] WIFP is an American nonprofit publishing organization. The organization works to increase communication between women and connect the public with forms of women-based media.

Partial Bibliography[edit]

  • Revolting Librarians (editor, 1972)
  • Women's Films in Print (1975)
  • Positive Images: Non-Sexist Films for Young People (1976)
  • The Passionate Perils of Publishing (1978)
  • The Public Library Mission Statement and Its Imperatives for Service (1979)
  • Where Have All the Publishers Gone? (1980)
  • Book of Lesbian Etiquette (1985)
  • Words in Our Pockets (1985)
  • Elsa: I Come With My Songs (editor of the autobiography of Elsa Gidlow, 1986)
  • A Lesbian Love Advisor (1989)
  • Lesbian Polyfidelity (1996)


  1. ^ Samek, Toni; Roberto, Keller R.; Lang, Moyra, eds. (2010). "Selected Writings of Celeste West". She was a Booklegger: Remembering Celeste West. Library Juice Press. pp. 217, 219. ISBN 9781936117444. 
  2. ^ West, Celeste (1989). A Lesbian Love Advisor. 
  3. ^ Johnson, Sue Ann West (2010). "San Francisco Zen Center, February 23, 2008". In Samek, Toni; Roberto, Keller R.; Lang, Moyra. She was a Booklegger: Remembering Celeste West. Library Juice Press. p. 81. 
  4. ^ a b Samek, Toni (2010). "Unbossed and Unbought: Booklegger Press, the First Woman-Owned American Library Publisher". In Samek, Toni; Roberto, Keller R.; Lang, Moyra. She was a Booklegger: Remembering Celeste West. Library Juice Press. p. 15. 
  5. ^ "Obituary". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved June 7, 2016. 
  6. ^ "Who we Are". Rutgers School of Communication and Information. Rutgers University. Archived from the original on 29 July 2014. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  7. ^ West, Celeste (2003). "Introduction: Revolting Librarians Rides Again". Revolting Librarians Redux: Radical Librarians Speak Out. Repr. in She Was a Booklegger, p. 226.
  8. ^ West, p. 228.
  9. ^ Wiley, Peter Booth (1996). A Free Library in this City: The Illustrated History of the San Francisco Public Library. San Francisco: Weldon Owen. p. 178. ISBN 9781875137053. 
  10. ^ (2008, March). "Celeste West [obituary]". American Libraries, (73).
  11. ^ Perricone, Tina (29 February 2008). "Remembering Celeste West (1942–2008)". 
  12. ^ "Associates | The Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press". www.wifp.org. Retrieved 2017-06-21.