The Boston Public Library (BPL) is proud to announce that it has received a $1,000,000 bequest from the late Howard Cooper to dramatically expand its LGBTQ+ resources, collections, and programming.
Cooper, who resided in San Francisco, CA as an adult, grew up in Dorchester and attended Boston Public Schools. He visited the Central Library in Copley Square regularly as a teenager in the 1950s. Cooper named the Boston Public Library Fund as a beneficiary in his estate plans and passed away at the age of 82 in 2022.
To recognize and celebrate Howard’s gift to the Library, family and friends will gather in the Central Library on June 23. The Library will unveil a plaque, installed in the Boylston Street Building lobby, to publicly recognize Cooper’s contribution to creating a safe and welcoming space for individuals of all identities.
“With his generous gift, Howard Cooper’s legacy reflects the essential founding principle of the Boston Public Library—free to all—and further positions the BPL as a cornerstone of democracy,” says BPL President David Leonard. “In these times of increasing challenges to books and information, this gift sends a powerful message that LGBTQ+ individuals and their stories play an essential role in our society and that the BPL will always be an inclusive space that proudly reflects and celebrates the LGBTQ+ community for generations to come.”
The bequest provides immediate-use funding for the Library to expand its current LGBTQ+ circulating collection, hire a researcher to review the Library’s historic collections for LGBTQ+ materials, and hire an intern to work specifically on LGBTQ+ community history as part of the Boston Community History Project.
Most significantly, the bequest establishes The Howard Cooper LGBTQ+ Endowment Fund to provide a long-term funding stream for initiatives and programs, including:
• Annual publication of We Are Pride booklist
• Interactive programming for youth
• Resources for teens, building upon the gender and sexual orientation resources already in place
Boston Public Library Fund Executive Director Paula Sakey added, “We are incredibly grateful to Howard for his insight, compassion, and generosity in naming the Boston Public Library Fund in his estate plans. By establishing an endowment fund, Howard’s gift will have a significant impact in safeguarding and expanding public access to the BPL’s LGBTQ+ materials and programs far into the future.”