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A Gal's Guide to the Galaxy: A first-of-its-kind library in America

Posted at 9:21 AM, Mar 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-24 09:21:51-04

NOBLESVILLE — March is a big month for college hoops, but let's not forget it's Women's History Month. WRTV took viewers to a first-of-its-kind women's library located right here in central Indiana. Check it out in the video above.

On the second floor of Nickle Plate Arts in Noblesville, women ranging from Mona Lisa to Michelle Obama gather in the same spot, in the form of a book; and Leah Leach is the person who brought them all together.

She's a book lover and the executive director of Gal's Guide to the Galaxy.

"We are the first women's history lending library in America, which we actually did not plan on doing,” said Leach.

This idea started with her struggle to find a book about a bull-fighting woman. Nevertheless, she persisted and found the book.

Leach said, "Now this book that is incredibly hard to find, which is her biography and has an introduction by Orson Wells, was almost lost to history and we have it available to check-out."

Through the process, Leach not only found that one book, but a new idea about this library filled with books exclusively about women or written by women.

"And then the question came. Is it crazy to open a library, the answer is yes, but we did anyway," said Leach.

It's the only bookstore of its kind in the country.

Leach said right now they have "2,600 books and growing all the time."

You wouldn't be able to tell Leach opened in this new location, only eleven days into the pandemic.

"Even in the midst of a pandemic, they've shown so much success that they've been able to more than triple their size and space,” said Nickel Play Arts, Executive Director, Aili McGill.

Like Amelia Earhart, the sky’s the limit for this nonprofit. McGill said, "People had no idea this existed. Right. But as soon as they engage it, they get excited."

Many of the books are donated from the community and most importantly, that excitement has meaning behind it.

A Gal's Guide to the Galaxy is about highlighting the contribution of all women.

"Pretty much go with the saying if you can see it, you can be it. And so, we have a library filled with different women of different backgrounds of different ethnicities and have different careers so that anybody can see it and be it,” said Leach.

McGill said, "I think we are the right home for that because we are welcoming, we're a comfy place we want everybody to be here."

It's an inclusive environment, that’s offering a strong message about female empowerment to the next generation. So, the non-profit makes its money off grants and donations.

To Leach, that includes her two daughters. "My daughters now have this knowledge, and this place at the table that has really really helped them find their voice find their place."

Finding that voice costs nothing. All books can be rented for 21 days, returned to the drop-box, and renewed for free.

Of course, a Gal's Guide to the Galaxy is gender-inclusive too. Leach said, "We have women and men on our glorious volunteer staff, but a lot of us are gal pals."

However, it makes sense, that these ‘gal pals’ are passionate about lifting other women up.

Volunteer, Lisa Cardona said, 'It's nice to be the first but dang it's been a long time coming."

Head Volunteer, Mona Mehas said, "it (this library) represents a lot of what was left out in history." She added, "I taught for 21 years and a lot of the kids that I taught just knew about men, and I knew just to teach about men."

A Gal's Guide to the Galaxy is more than just a library. It's bringing the history of 'herstory' to the front page.

"Hopefully start you know a little bit of a revolution of literature and more people will open Women's History libraries as well,” said Leach.

If you want more information, you can find a link to Gals Guide here.