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 don’t feel that GBLTQ fiction and African American fiction should be separated from the general collection in the library. I am not opposed to setting up feature displays for these categories, but I don’t feel like they need their own sections. They are very important pieces of literature, and are part of the collection of the whole. Listed below are some of my reasoning behind this decision.
- If as a library we start segregating books by author’s race or sexual preference, where do we draw the line. If we separate out these groups of fiction, we must also consider separating out Asian American fiction and women’s literature as well. Once we begin separating out groups of books in this manner, the line where we stop is hard to find.
- The subgenres that can fall under GBLTQ fiction and African American fiction are very vast may not have anything in common with the book next to it besides author’s ethnicity or characters’ sexual preference. Would you shelf a mystery book next to a romance book just because both authors are African American? Would you put a young adult slice-of-life drama next to a fantasy adventure just because the main protagonists are homosexual?
- Separating these categories from the main collection may alienate groups of readers from enjoying them. If the African American fiction books are all in one section, groups like whites and Hispanics may be hesitant to venture over to them. Heterosexual individuals may feel uncomfortable browsing through the GBLTQ sections for similar reasons. We do not want to potentially exclude anyone from enjoying these books. This is not an issue if all the books are sorted in the general collection.