Jeff Fowler has volunteered with the Gay Alliance Library & Archives since moving to Rochester in 2005, one night a week for two hours, since the days of the Community Center at the corner of Atlantic and Elton.
Like all the library volunteers, he has helped patrons find materials, check out books and DVDs, and use the Bohnett Cyber Center computers. Also like every library volunteer, he’s added new acquisitions to the online catalog and helped keep the shelves in order.
A mechanical engineer at Xerox, Jeff has specific skills that have proven helpful for the library. He helped plan moves from the Community Center to the Auditorium Center fifth floor, from the fifth floor to the first floor, and from the Auditorium Center to the new LGBT Resource Center. He oversaw the creation of the library’s online catalog and implemented a new system for finding items on the shelf.
Jeff applied for a grant by which the Xerox Foundation funded most of the shelves that house the collection. He then organized a work day where about thirty volunteers, many from Xerox or Out & Equal NY Finger Lakes, took down some six thousand books, replaced the old broken shelves with the beautiful sturdy new ones, added four thousand spine labels each to the right book, and got everything back on the shelves – in the right order!
As part of a team from the Library & Archives that created Forging Alliances, a museum-style exhibit about the history of the LGBT community in Rochester, Jeff planned and oversaw its installation at Pride. Since then the exhibit has been displayed around Rochester.
The move to the LGBT Resource Center on College Avenue is transformational for all of the programs at the Gay Alliance. For the Library & Archives, a big part of the excitement comes from the expanded hours, since the front desk volunteer can now help patrons check out books and DVDs during regular business hours. To make that process easier, Jeff is currently in the process of developing a library card system.
Jeff lives in Brighton with his husband Nigel Flear, who followed Jeff to Rochester from Canada in 2013. Jeff sings with the RGMC. He also volunteers through Xerox in its Science Consultant program, on a team of technical professionals teaching hands-on science lessons about once a month to fourth and fifth graders at Rochester School 28.