Quatrefoil Library was named after the book Quatrefoil by James Barr. Published in 1950, it was the first modern book to portray homosexuals positively.
The Quatrefoil Library is the fulfillment of a dream for the late David Irwin. In the mid-1970s both he and Dick Hewetson started collecting gay-themed books, housing their collections in a linen closet. As David continued to buy more books, the collection soon outgrew the “closet.”
David and Dick’s long-time idea of starting a lending library was realized when Matthew Stark, Executive Director of the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union, invited the Quatrefoil Library to be a tenant in MCLU’s new building on West Broadway in North Minneapolis. The library opened there on February 4, 1986.
The first year was one of unprecedented growth, so much so that the demand and use of the library soon outgrew the facilities. The library reopened at the renovated Richards Gordon School on June 6, 1987, with more than 4,000 volumes and over 300 periodicals. The collection continues to grow, now consisting of over 10,000 books, 1,000 DVDs, periodicals and sound recordings. So too our membership grows, and we invite you to join the unique community that is the Q Library.
The library reopened its doors on November 1, 2013, and now has 2,700 square feet – which is double the size it had at the Richards Gordon Office Building in St. Paul.
Read more about the Key Contributors.
Read about the history of Quatrefoil Library in a newly-released book written by Adam Keim and published by the Friends of the Bill of Rights Foundation. It is available to read, or freely download and print: History of the Quatrefoil Library.