Sunday, April 16, 2017

Week 14 Prompt

Prompt: Consider yourself part of the collection management committee of your local library, or a library at which you would like to work. You must decide whether or not to separate GBLTQ fiction and African American Fiction from the general collection to its own special place. Some patrons have requested this, yet many staff are uncomfortable with the idea - saying it promotes segregation and disrupts serendipitous discovery of an author who might be different from the reader. Do you separate them? Do you separate one and not the other? Why or why not? You must provide at least 3 reasons for or against your decision. Feel free to use outside sources - this is a weighty question that is answered differently in a lot of different libraries.

I would definitely fall into the category of uncomfortable staff member in this instance. I would not want to separate the LGBTQ or the African American fiction from the general collection for the following reasons:

1. Segregation and privacy - I'm kind of going through something similar with my YA collection, but with regard to high interest/low reading level books. I would really love to put the in their own section under the label "Quick Reads", but my manager is unsure of this for privacy reasons. She's afraid teens may be embarassed to browse materials in their own section. I think the same concerns apply to separating out the LGBTQ materials (not so much with African American literature). There may be an individual in your community that is questioning, or not out of the closet, and having a separate section puts that person at risk of exposure. As for African American literature, haven't we segregated enough in our history? Representation is important and it's more important to me to have a diverse collection on the shelves like it's no big deal. Again, ease of locating materials is logical, but I don't want to stand in the way of someone discovering a fantastic piece of African American literature because it's in a different section of the library.

2. Normalcy vs. the abnormal - Simply put, singling out one diverse genre from the general collection can be construed as the topic being abnormal. Having an LGBT book next to a general fiction book next to an African American book normalizes the subject matter. I read an article recently for a different class that mentions making sure your community can see itself reflected in your collection. I think having all the subjects mingling together in one general collection is the best way to ensure that your community is represented.

3.Quantity of content/Multiple genres - What happens if there's a book written by an African American author, but has no links to stereotypical African American topics? What happens if there's an LGBTQ story about a person of color? What happens when a minor character (but still significant part of the story is a person of color or member of the LGBTQ community? Where do you put these books? Where do you draw the line? Stories can fall into many different categories and it makes the most sense to keep them all in one larger, general collection.

I would, in no way, be ashamed of having a special section for LGBTQ or African American literature. Highlighting diverse books is a great idea. While the ease of finding materials in one section makes logical sense, I think that I would rather showcase exceptional stories through displays for Pride Month or Black History Month, than single them out entirely. Their permanent holdings should be in the general collection co-mingling with all of the other books.


  1. Laura, I absolutely love your comment about having all the subjects mingling on the shelves as representation of your community! What a wonderful way to put it! I was a little confused by your last paragraph - it seems to contradict your earlier position. Can you clarify?

    1. I was just trying to say that I wouldn't be ashamed of highlighting a diverse section of books. I'm not morally opposed or anything. I just would rather highlight books in displays and have their permanent resting place in the general collection comingling with all the other books.

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