Quatrefoil Library

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Quatrefoil Library
The 'Q' in Quatrefoil is big and purple; the rest of the word—which is rendered in black, serif type—is only about one-sixth the height of the 'Q'. It extends to the right; its baseline is above the midline of the 'Q'. The word 'Library' is also to the right of the Q, and beneath the rest of the word 'Quatrefoil'. It is in the same purple sans-serif type as the capital 'Q', but less than half the height.
Quatrefoil Library as seen from the sidewalk: the rails of a wheelchair ramp wind up toward a brick building. A sign on the wall reads "Quatrefoil Library". Stenciled on the windows is the abbreviation "Q Library".
Quatrefoil Library as seen from the pavement in front of the building.
Country United States
Type Special library
Scope LGBT
Established 1983; 35 years ago (1983)
Location 1220 East Lake Street
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Coordinates 44°56′54.7″N 93°15′24.1″W / 44.948528°N 93.256694°W / 44.948528; -93.256694Coordinates: 44°56′54.7″N 93°15′24.1″W / 44.948528°N 93.256694°W / 44.948528; -93.256694
Branches 1
Items collected Books, magazines, DVDs, VHS tapes
Size 15,000+ books
7,000+ DVDs[1]
Access and use
Access requirements Library membership
Members 400+[1]
Website qlibrary.org

Quatrefoil Library is a member-supported, 501(c)(3) non-profit[2] library for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.[3] It is located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where it was founded by David Irwin and Dick Hewetson in 1983.[4] It is the second LGBT lending library in the United States.[5] In the beginning, it was not only an educational resource center but also a safe space for LGBT people. The library houses over 15,000 books,[1] 7,000 DVDs, a collection of first editions and rare books,[6] and books in Braille.[4] It hosts poetry readings, panel discussions, book launches, and other events, open to all.

The library celebrated its 30th Anniversary in 2016.[7][8]

Early history[edit]

The doors of the library officially opened to the public on February 4, 1986. It opened with a significant donation from the collections of David Irwin but afterwards received donations from individuals across the country. Quatrefoil Library shared space with the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union at 1021 West Broadway in Minneapolis.[9] Sixteen months after its opening, the library moved to a bigger building in St. Paul to accommodate the growing collection.[10] Early volunteers and supporters include Jean-Nickolaus Tretter of the Tretter Collection, Tim Campbell who provided ad space in his publication and George Holdgrafer of Lavender magazine. The library published a newsletter, The Gay Bookworm, which was later christened Quatrefolio.

The library took its name from the novel Quatrefoil: A Modern Novel by James Barr.[11] Founding member David Irwin had been so impressed with the positive portrayal of homosexuality, that he insisted on naming their collection the Quatrefoil Library.[12]

In 2013, the library moved to its present site in Minneapolis with twice as much space as it had in St. Paul.[13]

Mission statement[edit]

The mission of the Quatrefoil Library is to collect, maintain, document and circulate gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer materials and information in a safe and accessible space.[14]


The library's collection includes lesbian periodicals, documentaries, gay-themed posters, pulp novels, fiction, non-fiction, art, and photography books. As of 2007, the volume of the collection included more 14,000 books, 1,040 DVDs, 2,123 VHS videotapes, 500 periodicals and 1,550 pulp novels.[10] The library also houses a collection of rare and out-of-print books.[15]


Quatrefoil collaborated with the University of Minnesota Libraries and the Tretter Collection in GLBT Studies to host the first international conference on LGBT Archives, Libraries, Museums, and Special Collections in Minneapolis.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Become a Member". Quatrefoil Library. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
  2. ^ "Charity Search Results: Quatrefoil Library". The Office of Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson.
  3. ^ "Quatrefoil: Gay/Lesbian Library". Library Journal. 119: 25. 1986. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  4. ^ a b Keim 2008, p. viii.
  5. ^ Van Cleve 2012, p. 216.
  6. ^ Larsen 2017, p. 172-3.
  7. ^ Frame, Robert (2016). "In and Out: Thirty Years At the Quatrefoil Library". Hennepin History. 75 (2): 12.
  8. ^ Sturdevant, A. (April 17, 2014). "LGBT history is lovingly preserved at Quatrefoil Library on Lake Street". MinnPost.
  9. ^ "Twin Cities Gaze". Twin Cities Gaze. February 1986.
  10. ^ a b Keim 2008, p. 18.
  11. ^ Barr, James (1950). Quatrefoil. 1950: Greenberg Press. OCLC 542667.
  12. ^ Keim 2008, p. 7.
  13. ^ "History". Quatrefoil Library. Retrieved October 16, 2018.
  14. ^ "Quatrefoil website". Retrieved June 18, 2016.
  15. ^ Marianne Combs (July 14, 2016). "From private collection to lending library: Quatrefoil grows as resource for LGBT community". MPR News. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
  16. ^ Greenblatt, Ellen (2011). Serving LGBTIQ Library and Archives Users: Essays on Outreach, Service ... Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc.,. p. 147. ISBN 9780786448944.


  • Keim, Adam (2008). History of the Quatrefoil Library (PDF). Friends of the Bill of Rights. ISBN 9780966882827.
  • Van Cleve, Stewart (2012). Land of 10,000 Loves : A History of Queer Minnesota. Univ Of Minnesota Press.
  • Larsen, Elizabeth Foy (2017). 111 Places in the Twin Cities that You Must Not Miss. Emons Verlang GmbH. pp. 172–3. ISBN 9783740800291.

External links[edit]