February 17, 2018

Fire in Chicago Library Damages 90 Gay Books

By LJ Staff

A suspicious fire on June 6 destroyed about 100 books, mainly in the gay and lesbian collection of the John Merlo Branch of the Chicago Public Library. Staffers were alerted by a patron, and were able to put out the fire before firefighters arrived. About 10 books in the African-American history collection and 90 books in the gay and lesbian collection were affected. It wasn’t clear that the books were targeted, as the fire was set in a remote corner, and the section is not explicitly marked, according to the Chicago Tribune. Gay rights activists were concerned that the fire might be a result of homophobia, especially since it occurred during Gay Pride Month in the branch with the largest gay and lesbian collection. Ultimately, a 21-year-old homeless woman, Erica Graham, was charged with attempted aggravated arson, and officials said it was not a hate crime.