This article was originally published in the summer 2013 Harker Quarterly.
Middle school librarian Bernie Morrissey gave a presentation at the Computers in Libraries Conference, held the first week after spring break in Washington, D.C. Morrissey spoke to librarians from institutions around the country on the impact the Internet has had for gay and lesbian youth, and how it has revolutionized the “coming out” experience.
“Beginning with simple message boards and chat rooms back in the early 1990s and culminating with the wildly successful ’It Gets Better’ project in 2010, online resources for isolated youth have saved thousands of lives,” reported Morrissey.
The informative session he led at the conference explored the evolution of these resources as a means to help more libraries serve a vulnerable and often silent population.
During his presentation, he encouraged librarians who already knew about the online resources to make sure their colleagues and students were aware of it as well. He also urged those learning about it for the first time to pass the word on.
Before heading off to D.C., Morrissey practiced his talk on a small group of Harker teachers, whose feedback helped him refine and improve his final delivery. “I was very happy to represent Harker at the conference and hope to have many similar opportunities in the future,” he said.
Prior to becoming a middle school librarian at Harker in 2007, Morrissey worked as a high school librarian in Chicago. As a teenager in the 1990s, he personally benefitted from some online resources for gay and lesbian youth, though, he added, “much of today’s technology was still in its infancy.”
“Bernie’s excellence as a librarian is evident in projects like this. Helping kids out with classroom research is one thing. Anticipating personal, potentially life-changing (and lifesaving) information needs is quite another,” said Lauri Vaughan, upper school librarian. “Conference organizers clearly recognized the value of his research and by extension, Bernie is helping not just Harker kids, but teens around the world.”