James C. Hormel (1933—2021)
It is with sadness that I learned of James C. Hormel’s death this morning on my way into work at the Main Library, where I manage the James C. Hormel LGBTQIA Center.
The circular reading room in its corner of the 3rd floor General Collections Department feels hushed in a different way from its usual quiet.
This lovingly-appointed space—funded 25 years ago by thousands of individuals and anchored by James Hormel’s generous gift of $500,000 to create the nation’s first dedicated gay and lesbian center in a public library—holds our collective memories and aspirations. The hand-painted ceiling mural, wood-paneled walls and semi-circular shelves with their 1,000-title sampling of the collection’s 10,000+ books resonate with the collective kindness and attention we as a community give to our queer histories and experiences each and every day.
As we move through the COVID-19 pandemic with the Library newly-reopened, researchers and casual readers are appreciative and relieved to touch their LGBTQIA books and to pore over LGBTQIA papers and photographs again. This physical and intellectual contact keeps us together.
I offer these personal words of gratitude on behalf of our beloved Hormel Center here at the San Francisco Public Library. Thank you, James C. Hormel, for your lifelong presence and example.
—Dee Dee Kramer, Program Manager, James C. Hormel LGBTQIA Center
Image: Jim Hormel cuts a ribbon at the Founding Donors' Celebration and Dedication of the Hormel Center on March 23, 1996.
About the Center
The James C. Hormel LGBTQIA Center is the gateway to the Library’s broader collections documenting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual and allies’ history and culture, with a special emphasis on the San Francisco Bay Area.
The Center also collaborates with other library departments and community organizations to sponsor a diverse array of exhibitions and public programs.
The Hormel Center Reading Room on the 3rd floor of the Main Library serves as the home-base of the Center and houses a selection of non-circulating books and magazines.
The Center librarians are at the 3rd floor General Collections desk.