World Library and Information Conference (IFLA) 2014 in Lyon, France, I'm attending a session of the IFLA Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) Users Special Interest Group. One of my iSchool's PhD students is presenting: Elizabeth Chapman (Information School, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, United Kingdom) on “I’ve never really thought about it”: librarians’ attitudes to the provision of LGBT-related fiction to children and young people in English public libraries.
She started by rehearsing reasons on why LGBT fiction should be provided to children and young people. These include helping LGBT young people to form a positive sense of self. Liz is using mixed methods to explore this topic for her PhD and has nearly completed her research. She concentrated on results from her interviews with librarians. From these interviews, librarians' attitudes towards providing LGBT fiction are positive, recognising that it is valuable for both LGBT children and for those who are not LGBT (in helping them understand different people). However there was a rather passive stance, avoiding discrimination, but not necessarily making an active effort to seek out LGBT material for collection or display. There was a lot of lack of awareness: i.e. it was not an issue they had not thought about much. Therefore if no one had asked for the material, the librarians probably had not proactively acquired it. Areas for concern expressed by teh librarians included finding what they thought of as “quality” material (whereas LGBT families might prefer something rather than nothing). Librarians also didn’t necessarily see the need for LGBT picture books, as they felt the issue wasn’t relevant to young children (associated with that was a fear about complaints from conservatively-minded parents). Thus there was the “rhetoric of non-discriminition but it tended to translate into a passive stance”. Liz made some recommendations for librarians. Her full paper is at http://library.ifla.org/1017/