Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Week 14 Prompt

To Separate or Not to Separate: GLBTQ & African American Fiction

I am currently working in a very small, rural public library. The majority of our patrons are very conservative. The majority of them are also senior citizens. Our biggest book circulations include Christian fiction, gentle reads, cozy mysteries, and crime novels. At my library, I could not justify setting aside a separate area for these topics, partially because our collection of them are not even substantial. There isn't any demand for these topics. Does that mean that I purposely don't order them? No, of course not, but they get added if they fit the genres that are frequently checked out.

I have mixed feelings about separating these topics in general. Depending upon your patronage, separating these topics could either increase circulation or decrease circulation. For my library, I think that people would feel self-conscious if browsing sections labeled like this, similarly to how they might feel looking at the YA section. Because these aren't common books for most of our patrons, being singled out so blatantly could have a negative effect on circulation of these materials.

I have mixed feelings about separating these topics in general. I understand that promoting books with GLBTQ and African American characters can be empowering and bring a lot of attention to these books. At the same time, though, isn't our overall goal to be inclusive of all types of people? Would putting them in the spotlight help or hinder this goal?

Ultimately, I think the best decision would be to stick to displays. Libraries could display books specifically of these "genres". This could create some attention and allow for perusal without setting them completely in their own area. I also think that it is important, though, to make sure you include these types of books in your regular displays. They contain a variety of genres. It would be easy to find a GLBTQ or African American book that fit in with a genre, appeal, or topic specific display. This would help patrons to consider them as typical books. By using both of these display methods throughout the year, I think that you would be able to do the best of both scenarios for these "genres".


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  2. Hi Paige,

    My library has the fiction sections broken up into mysteries, westerns, science fiction, YA, and harlequin novels. The rest are placed in general fiction. The children's fiction section is further broken up into three different reading levels. Then add in the formats of large print, audio books, audio books on lease, DVDs, and graphic novels. Mix that in with non-fiction materials in books, DVDs, audio books, local history, biographies, and special collections. Oddly, the reference materials are labeled reference, but is mixed in with general collections. Confused? Me too and I am the only cataloger. LOL. My job would be soooo much easier if there were not so many different sections in this small library.

  3. I like the display idea! I feel that it is the least controversial way to go about letting people know where they are without actually separating them.

  4. Great prompt response! You did a great job backing up your points. Full points!

  5. Paige,

    I definitely agree that depending on your patron population, the decision to pull out LGBT and African-American materials into their own section would depend on their needs. Displays were a solution that I gave in my response as well and I believe it to be something that would make sense and could easily be manipulated to fit any category of patron needs in the future.

  6. I agree with you on separating the two out. It would be nice to have ease of access for those patrons that read them but in our area we have similar patrons as you.