February 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Larry Romans, Hero of LGBTQ Literature for Young People, Dies at 68

Larry Romans. LIbrary. Photo by Joe Howell

Photo by Joe Howell

Larry Romans, a major supporter of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) Round Table of the American Library Association (ALA) and its Stonewall Books Awards, died on January 28, 2016, after a battle with cancer.

In 2012, ALA renamed the award the Stonewall Book Award–Mike Morgan and Larry Romans Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award in honor of Romans and his partner for their long-term generous financial support. The award, given annually, recognizes English-language works of exceptional merit relating to the GLBT experience. Romans pledged additional funds from his estate to support the awards.

In September, 2015, the couple established an additional monetary award by suggesting the separation of young adult titles from children’s. So for the first time on January 11, 2016, two books won the award: George (2015) by Alex Gino and The Porcupine of Truth (2015, both Scholastic) by Bill Konigsberg, for children and young adult, respectively.

“Larry Romans’ thoughtful and invaluable contributions to elevating GLBT literature, to the advancement of ALA and to librarianship, will not be forgotten,” says ALA President Sari Feldman.  “Larry will be missed and always in the hearts of his friends, colleagues, and those that look to the Stonewall Book Awards–Mike Morgan and Larry Romans Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award for quality titles regarding the GLBT experience.”

Romans served as head of government information and media services and as a specialist in political science and communication studies at Vanderbilt University’s (Nashville, TN) main library from 1983 to 2014. In addition, he’d served on the ALA governing council since 1992. During that time, he worked in many roles, include one on the executive board and as the Tennessee chapter councilor. At the time of his death, he was completing his 16th year as an at-large councilor. “While on ALA council, Larry was a forceful advocate for equality, within and beyond the association,” said a statement from the round table. “He often chaired ALA’s resolutions committee and was an informed participant, whose opinions were valued. Larry was also a master of parliamentary procedure to follow in meetings.”

He is survived by Mike Morgan, his partner of 45 years; mother, Marilyne Webber Romans; sisters Virginia (Gary) Sitar and Susan (Phil) Donovan; nieces Kathy (Pat) Higgins, Melissa Kirk, and Sally Donovan; and stepsons York and Derek Morgan.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to:

The Romans Leadership Fund
Greater Nashville Unitarian Universalist Congregation
374 Hicks Road
Nashville, TN 37221

The ALA Morgan-Romans Stonewall Book Endowment
50 E Huron Street
Chicago IL 60611

Gilda’s Club
1707 Division Street
Nashville, TN 37203


Rocco Staino About Rocco Staino

Rocco Staino @RoccoA is the retired director of the Keefe Library of the North Salem School District in New York. He is now a contributing editor for School Library Journal and also writes for the Huffington Post.

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  1. I am SO sorry to hear of of Larry’s death. He made a signifcant contribution to the world of children’s literature and to humanity.