Libraries exhibit on HIV, AIDS emergence supports CLGBTQE's Commission Reads

October 10, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In conjunction with the Commission on LGBTQ Equity’s 2016 Commission Reads selections “The Normal Heart” and “The Destiny of Me” by activist and writer Larry Kramer, the Penn State University Libraries presents an exhibit that explores books and other materials related to the emergence of HIV and AIDS in the early 1980s. “From Gay-Related Immune Deficiency to AIDS: The Emergence of HIV in the 1980s” is located in two display cases near the entrance of the Arts and Humanities Library on the second floor of Pattee Library on Penn State’s University Park campus.

Curated by University Libraries Diversity Residency Librarians Jose C. Guerrero and Alia C. Gant, the items displayed outline historical medical, artistic, and activist responses to AIDS as a public health crisis from the first reported cases in the summer of 1981 to the exhibition of portions of the AIDS Memorial Quilt at Penn State in 1993. Many of the artifacts were acquired by the Penn State University Libraries at the time of their publication or use and are in their original format.

The exhibit is free and open to the public and is available for viewing during regular fall semester Pattee Library operating hours. It is scheduled for display through Friday, Dec. 16.

In the early 1980s, one of the strongest advocates and AIDS activists was Kramer, an Oscar-nominated screenwriter, author and playwright who began a relentless campaign to raise awareness, demand treatment, and search for a cure. A critical figure in the founding of Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), which would become the world’s largest private organization assisting people living with AIDS, and AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), Kramer will speak at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 13, in the HUB-Robeson Center’s Alumni Hall, with a book signing at 6:30 p.m.

Forced out of GMHC, Kramer expressed his initial frustrations by writing a play, “The Normal Heart,” in 1985, which would become the longest-running play produced at The Public Theater in New York City. In 2011, a new Broadway production of “The Normal Heart” won a Tony Award for the best revival of a play, and the 2014 drama won numerous awards, including a Primetime Emmy for most outstanding television movie.

“An Evening with Larry Kramer” is sponsored by Penn State Student Affairs; University Park Allocation Committee; Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; LBGTQA Student Resource Center; Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Equity; and the Department of English in the College of the Liberal Arts.

All of the exhibit's books are personal copies shared for use in the exhibit, so the University Libraries’ copies could remain available for checkout. Found via search through the Libraries' online catalog, they may be requested by using the listing’s “I Want It” button and delivered for pickup at the Commons Services desk in Pattee Library.

Similarly, the LGBTQA Student Resources Center, in 101 Boucke Building on the University Park campus, houses a variety of fiction and nonfiction books and movies.

For questions about this exhibit, to obtain more information on how to access library materials related to this exhibit, or for persons with disabilities who anticipate needing accommodations or who have questions about physical access to the exhibit in the University Libraries, please contact Jose C. Guerrero at 814-867-3717 or or Alia C. Gant at 815-865-9406 or



Last Updated February 15, 2017