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One Epic Night

by Barb Conlin

One Epic Night: Thursday, 11/17/2022

A few weeks ago, our Executive Director, Dr. Leah Leach, reached out to me and asked if I would attend the Advancing Noblesville Awards dinner.  She had a couple of other engagements that evening – also on behalf of the library.  I readily agreed and didn’t think twice about it.  Nice dinner at a local golf club, free alcohol.  Sure, count me in!  My husband was unable to attend due to a pickleball event (yes, he is one of *those* people!).  I asked my dear friend, Recarda, to be my date for the evening.  We both looked forward to getting a little dressed up and having a nice night out.

A few days after Leah and I discussed the event initially, she mentioned to me that Gal’s Guide Library was up for an award and that, if we won, I would need to accept. Wait. What now?  Originally, there had been no mention of an acceptance speech!  Yes, in reality I had known that we were nominated but had not put two and two together.  Now, I had my four, and a slight panic set in.  Leah agreed to help me put together a few words, and I felt more comfortable.

We had recently been nominated for two other awards.  I was nominated for Nickel Plate Art’s Art Champion of the Year given at their Gala held in September. Prior to that, back in July, Leah and I both attended the Women in Noblesville Leadership Luncheon where she was up for the Inaugural Woman of Impact Award.  We were both happy to be nominated and to market the Gal’s Guide brand; in the end, neither of us won.  We enjoyed the festivities nonetheless. Both events were glitzy and glamorous and provided us with a reason to hobnob with some of Noblesville’s finest community members.  

Leah did offer a few words for an acceptance speech.  Based on that and on the fact that the other two nominations did not materialize into an award, I forgot about that part of the evening.  Yes, I had the occasional nightmare of tripping if I heard our name called or of absolutely freezing at the mic – but those thoughts were fleeting.  When the evening rolled around, Recarda and I both set out to enjoy some wine and laughs throughout the evening.

While we finished up dinner, the Advancing Noblesville team ran a video of all the award nominees for the night.  I was blown away by the quality of the companies and individuals and what they offered to Noblesville.  The section on the Gal’s Guide Library made me feel extremely proud! It spoke of our history.  It told how Dr. Leah Leach started a gal’s group in her living room which evolved into a women’s history podcast.  That group and podcast further developed into the first women’s history lending library in the country with over 5,000 books in our collection – all by or about women.  The video spoke of our efforts to build confidence in young girls, to support our LGBTQ+ friends and family members through our ally meetup, and to create a fun, spirited, quirky, LOUD library that is open and inclusive.  I may have teared up watching!

And then it happened.  We won!  Advancing Noblesville awarded us Community and Public Service Organization of the Year! And I accepted on our behalf – without tripping on the way to the podium or without freezing while standing in front of what felt like all of Noblesville. I was able to say a few words about how proud I was to accept the award on behalf of the library and on behalf of Leah.

Oh, Leah. Due to prior commitments, she had been unable to attend.  Leah had not been at the awards dinner, had not seen the video summarizing our contributions to our community, and had not taken the stage to accept an award for the library – which was her brainchild, her baby.  I felt awful. I texted her right away and let her know that we had won and how I felt she should have been the one to accept the award.  She was so gracious and supportive in telling me that we were both in the right places that evening.

It didn’t hit me until the next day, when I was on the way to the library to present Leah with the award, as to how right she was.  I was accepting the award that prior evening while she was, literally, advancing Noblesville.  She was getting into good trouble at a local public library. A library that was attempting to use sleight of hand to remove access to books that discussed topics that the board thought were inappropriate. A library that was, through their actions, making our LGBTQ+ community feel “less than.”   And Leah simply could not let that stand.  

While I was having dinner and drinks, Dr. Leah Leach, along with the Gal’s Guide Library board, staff, patrons, and members of our LGBTQ+ community, showed up in force to speak and to be heard.  And while the public library board still made decisions not supported by the community in attendance, it is not because our team wasn’t compelling in their positions and in their calls to action.  The testimonials made and the stories told were captivating, revealing, honest, and inspiring. Leah, along with the other brave speakers, got into good trouble that night and, in doing so, lived up to the name of the award that I accepted – Advancing Noblesville. 

It was an epic night – not because of the award but because of the work that was and continues to be done to earn it.  Advancing Noblesville.  You’re welcome.

Fondly, Barb

Now – Go Be You!


Last night was a big night for galsguide! While our Executive Director Leah Leach was making good trouble on behalf of our community, Barb Conlin accepted the Organization of the Year award for Advancing Noblesville! #Noblesville #Library

♬ original sound – Gals Guide Library

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