Words have power. That’s the idea behind the donation of books to the Pittsburg Public Library Monday by the Southeast Kansas Chapter, National Organization for Women, in conjunction with the Pittsburg State University Gay Straight Alliance. The books deal with issues faced by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender young people. Books will also be donated to the Axe Library at PSU and the Pittsburg High School Library. “The Gay Straight Alliance came up with the idea,” said Laura Lee Washburn, NOW member and PSU faculty member. GSA member Jennifer Katzer and other members came up with names of books that had been helpful to them growing up. “I went to the PSU English department for help in finding out what literary books they’d like to see added to that list,” Washburn said. “They suggested such classic authors as E.M. Forster, Jeannete Winterson and Rita Mae Brown, as well as the critically acclaimed graphic novel ‘Fun Home’ by Alison Bechdel.” Some books were donated and others purchased with around $300 raised by SEK-NOW members Deborah McGeorge, Sarah Walden and Cheryl Mayo. Beverly Clarkson, PPL director, accepted the books. “This will help our collection become more diverse,” she said. Among the titles accepted by the Pittsburg Public Library are “Maurice” by E.M. Forster, “What’s Wrong with Homosexuality?” by John Corvino, “Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay” by Paul Vitagliano, “Gay, Straight and the Reason Why” by Simon LeVay, “Luna” by Julie Anne Peters and “Beautiful Music for Ugly Children” by Kirstin Cronn-Mills. Clarkson said she is aware that some persons might consider the book topics to be controversial, but said the library’s policy on all book donations had been carefully followed. This includes checking reviews of the books and determining if the donated books will meet a need within the community. “I personally went through every one of these books and they were all well reviewed,” Clarkson said. She also believes that the books meet a need by addressing the concerns of a diverse community. “People come to a public library for ideas,” Clarkson said. Megan Stoneberger, SEK-NOW coordinator, said that most of the books deal with young people who are “coming out” as gay or lesbian, or transitioning from their birth gender to the gender they feel is truly their own. “As an English teacher, I believe in the power of literature,” Stoneberger said. “I think books can be a refuge for people, and reading and empathizing with a character can help someone relate to what people are going through in their lives.” She also knows that the book subjects may be controversial, but noted that no one will be compelled to read anything they don’t want to. “A library is a place for people to come and find something that suits their taste,” Stoneberger said. “If it doesn’t fit their taste, then they can leave it on the shelf for someone else.”