Urbana library looking to continue Drag Queen Story Hour after packed debut

Urbana library looking to continue Drag Queen Story Hour after packed debut

URBANA — After receiving positive feedback about an event Friday that had more than 200 attendees, the Urbana Free Library is looking to continue hosting Drag Queen Story Hour.

The first-time event featured two drag queens reading aloud stories about inclusion and acceptance.

Library director Celeste Choate said the crowd "literally streamed in" and included people of all ages and races.

"Truly, people teared up to see how well this was going and seeing people being that welcoming in a public space," she told the library's board at its Tuesday night meeting.

The event was a partnership between the library and The UP Center, an advocacy group for LGBTQ people in Champaign County. Rachel Fuller, the library's director of adult and youth services, said drag-queen readings have been gaining popularity around the country, which prompted UP to pitch Friday's event.

The library agreed, and UP provided the readers, who picked the stories most meaningful to them.

Story hours aren't new for the library, which enlists various community members to do them when needed. But Fuller said the drag queens were especially engaging and natural in the role.

"Reading aloud is a performance — making the story come alive," Fuller said. "They had no trouble with that."

While the library receives bigger crowds for bigger events, Fuller said this one received an above-average audience for its size. The library is on board to offer it more but needs to ask UP and iron out the details.

"We're seeing these kinds of events happen more, and libraries are a place for everyone," Choate said.

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