Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Week 14 Prompt

The library in which I will be working is in a small town in the deep South. This being the case, I would handle the LGBTQ+ collection and the African American fiction collections differently. Given that LGBTQ+ people are statistically more likely to be the targets of hate-motivated violence than any other group of people (Park), I would be unwilling to flag this collection in any way. If bigoted community members were able to note those frequenting an LGBTQ+ section and then target those patrons with violence or discrimination, a separate section would have the potential to lead to far greater harm than good. That being the case, I would create other forms of passive reader’s advisory to help guide readers interested in LGBTQ+ fiction to this collection--a “recommended diverse fiction” leaflet, for example, which would list many books representing diverse communities and tag the various books with appropriate tags (i.e. “LGBTQ interest” after a Sarah Waters novel). Such a leaflet could be picked up much more unobtrusively, especially if it didn’t even advertise itself as specifically listing LGBTQ+ reads.
In considering an African American fiction collection, however, I would take a different tactic. African American people make up more than half the population of the town in which I will be working (“American FactFinder”), indicating that interest in this collection will likely be high. As a librarian I would like to make sure that this collection is as easily accessible as possible, but would wish to avoid separating the collection entirely given the South’s history of segregation. In order to strike a balance between facilitating access and remaining politically correct/historically sensitive, I would go with the tactic of putting stickers on the books’ spines demarcating them as African American-interest. I have seen this technique used in many libraries, often to indicate not only African American fiction collections but also fiction with various religious themes, or fiction belonging to certain genres. The American Library Associations’s “Interpretations of the Library Bill of Rights” page clarifies that “As long as these collections represent diverse points of view within the parameters of the collection and are designed to help patrons find resources relevant to their experience...this practice would be acceptable” (“Questions and Answers on Labeling and Rating Systems.)

“American FactFinder.” United States Census Bureau. 2010. Retrieved 12 April 2017. Web.
Park, Haeyoun, and Iaryna Mykhyalyshyn. "L.G.B.T. People Are More Likely to Be Targets of Hate Crimes Than Any Other Minority Group." New York Times. The New York Times Company, 16 June 2016. Web.

“Questions and Answers on Labeling and Rating Systems.” American Library Association. 16 January 2016. Retrieved 12 April 2017. Web.


  1. Avery, I thought the same thing about separating the LGBTQ+, that is, I think that separating them could lead to bullying and far worse and make the people who prefer the reading material as targets. I do like that you would create some passive readers' advisory lists for people upon request.

    I like the idea of using stickers to distinguish between different themes. I would think that the library system would have a many choices of African American literature in the collection since the population is at least half African American. Stickers would benefit all patrons looking for different themes such as African American and Christian fiction.

  2. Hello Avery! I actually had a bit of different view until I read your post. I don't think I really thought about libraries in locations where there is more bigotry. Guess us Yankees have to think about things like that. I like the idea of having stickers for the African-American literature so that at least there is some way to tell which titles are there. I also like the idea of not making LGBTQ titles stand out.

  3. Hi Avery, this is a very thoughtful and smart post! I think one of the main points here is that you carefully considered your particular library and community and matched those needs and concerns. In my area, there are very, very few black people so it's better to have the books integrated on the shelf with no need to mark them. An annotated bibliography pamphlet similar to your suggestion for the LGBT books is a good solution for my library. I really appreciated your reference to the labeling clarification from the ALA - I disagreed with labels or stickers on the LGBT books for the reason of stigma at the checkout counter, but of course, many other kinds of books are labeled. Really great, insightful, well thought out post.

  4. Great prompt response! You did a great job backing up your point and inspired some good comments. Full points!