Welcome to my first post in a series covering my ten-day road trip through the South. I’m a school library teacher at a private 7-12 school in Dedham, MA, and I am very fortunate to be spending part of my summer visiting libraries across the country. I’ll be looking for design and programming ideas and casually examining teen collections. Most of my trip will take place in the South (Tennessee, Arkansas, and Texas), but I did make a quick stop in Northeast Ohio, to visit my brother, after the ALA conference where I examined five different libraries.
My purpose is examining how different spaces are being set up for teens to access library materials. Do they separate general fiction from nonfiction? Is there a separate fiction section for teens, but nonfiction mixed in with adult nonfiction, and are those labeled or not? Are there separate periodicals and DVDs specifically for teens? Are children and teens lumped together in one shared space? Is there a dedicated teen librarian? My quest is to see how it is really being done from sea to shining sea? Well, sea to sweltering desert (I’ve been told Texas is hot in the summer!)
For my own independent research, I am also interested in looking at teen fiction collections and examining whether they are accessible for LGBT teens. (Full disclosure: I am an advocate for including LGBT YA titles in every public and school library, I actively promote their circulation, and I am an advocate for running programming for LGBT teen patrons, and their allies. My hope is that all libraries, everywhere, share my feelings, but I imagine that not every library I come across will be as well stocked as I would wish.)
In my travels, I plan to scan the shelves and see what is available, overall. However, I’ve created a basic list of titles that I would generally consider core LGBT YA titles for every library. If these titles are available, how accessible are they? How are they shelved? Most of the libraries I have visited included LGBT YA fiction within the teen collection, however, some have shelved it with adult fiction. Some only have it available as an ebook, via Overdrive, and some seem to have it available (listed in the OPAC as â€œinâ€) but it is not actually on the shelf – this could be explained in a number of ways: maybe it is behind the counter, or maybe it was stolen, neither of them ideal.
I am trying to have an open mind. While visiting the five libraries in Northeast Ohio, I expected much lower results in terms of holdings. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that four of the five libraries included many LGBT YA titles, whereas only one had the aforementioned â€œtitles available only as an ebook.â€ But more on that in my next post!