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The Provision of Lesbian Fiction in Public Libraries in Scotland - Alanna Broadley

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Presented at LISDIS 2015, Saturday 15 November 2015

Published in: Education
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The Provision of Lesbian Fiction in Public Libraries in Scotland - Alanna Broadley

  1. 1. The provision of lesbian fiction in public libraries in Scotland Alanna Broadley University of Strathclyde, MSc Information & Library Studies
  2. 2. Overview • Background • Research questions • Methodology • Discussion of findings & recommendations • Conclusion
  3. 3. Background •Only research in Scotland was in 2007 •Collection development did not consider lesbian fiction •Proactive approaches recommended •But no focus on reading interests or information needs of lesbian women •Reading lesbian fiction can contribute to sense of identity and community
  4. 4. Research questions •Why provide access to lesbian fiction? •How do public libraries in Scotland address lesbian fiction in collection development? •How can public libraries best develop collections to include lesbian fiction meeting needs of lesbian women?
  5. 5. Methodology
  6. 6. Methodology 1. Freedom of Information requests for - •collection development policies •supplier selection stock requirement profiles •Content analysis to quantitatively assess LGBT fiction consideration
  7. 7. Methodology 2. Catalogue check •List of lesbian fiction titles •Searched all 32 public library service catalogues •Were titles held catalogued as lesbian fiction?
  8. 8. Methodology 3. Online questionnaire •About experiences, habits and opinions of lesbian fiction readers •Promoted on Twitter & message boards •Total of 96 responses
  9. 9. What is lesbian fiction?
  10. 10. What is lesbian fiction? Definition from academic literature: Fiction by lesbian women, for lesbian women or about lesbian women
  11. 11. What is lesbian fiction? Definition from academic literature: Fiction by lesbian women, for lesbian women or about lesbian women
  12. 12. 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% What is lesbian fiction? Questionnaire respondents agreed: • With a central lesbian character - 76% • Written for a lesbian audience - 69% • With a lesbian or bisexual character - 60% • Written by a lesbian woman - 40%
  13. 13. •Definitions did not match use in catalogues •Checklist books – •A lesbian main character •Categorised into crime, mystery, historical, general, classic or romance What is catalogued as lesbian fiction?
  14. 14. •25 of 33 books were not catalogued as lesbian fiction •Only romance and classic novels and 1 crime title were catalogued as lesbian fiction •But inconsistently across services What is catalogued as lesbian fiction?
  15. 15. •“Lesbian fiction” considered an exclusive label •Not used for contemporary fiction •Even if nominated for a LGBT literature award •Misconception can impact selection and accessibility What is catalogued as lesbian fiction?
  16. 16. •Recommendation: folksonomies in cataloguing •One library service used LibraryThing •Highest ratio of books catalogued as lesbian fiction: books held What is catalogued as lesbian fiction?
  17. 17. Why should public libraries provide access to lesbian fiction?
  18. 18. Why provide lesbian fiction? •Lesbian fiction is of value to lesbian women •Lesbian women should be represented in fiction and in public libraries •90% agreed lesbian fiction is an important contribution to LGBT culture
  19. 19. Why provide lesbian fiction? •Relating to portrayals •“easier” to identify with •“an emotional connection” •“on a different level” •Provided validation •Connection with lesbian community •Learning about themselves, others & their place in the world
  20. 20. Why provide lesbian fiction? •88% read at least a little when coming out •Agreement with information needs identified from previous research: •Understand sexual identify – 80% •Accept sexual identity – 77% •Learn about LGBT community – 59% •Feel less alone, aware of others – 80%
  21. 21. How is lesbian fiction considered in collection development?
  22. 22. •Of 26 collection development policies, none mentioned LGBT users or LGBT materials •Cf. 19% of a sample of 32 public libraries in England did (Chapman, 2007) •Recommendation: include section on meeting needs & interests of LGBT users Collection development policies
  23. 23. •50% of libraries in Scotland use supplier selection for all/some adult fiction stock •Stock requirement profiles typically include a genre specification list •Only 46% specified LGBT fiction requirements Supplier selection
  24. 24. •Libraries that did not: •Ignored LGBT genre option •Did not use genre lists •Considered LGBT fiction to be included in general fiction •Recommendation: full stock profiles used, with LGBT fiction requirements Supplier selection
  25. 25. Conclusion
  26. 26. •Lesbian fiction not adequately addressed in: •Collection development policies •Supplier selection practices •Cataloguing Conclusion
  27. 27. •Underlying recommendations: •Definition of lesbian fiction •Understanding value of lesbian fiction But further research needed •To improve the availability and accessibility of lesbian fiction in public libraries in Scotland Conclusion
  28. 28. Thank you @alanna_sb Any questions?

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