Readers & Reference

 

Uses of the library and the Internet frequently resulted in unsatisfactory searches for reading materials, while bookstores were more likely to be regarded as reliable, accessible, and satisfying sources of books with LGBQ content.

- Paulette Rothbauer in Library as a Place

LGBT people have often been neglected by information professionals in the past. This has led LGBT patrons to avoid reference services for their queries.  Librarians need to ask themselves how they can be more welcoming and in tune to their LGBT patrons. Non-profit organizations have filled this gap by creating their own libraries to serve queer communities. These organizations are valuable allies and advisers in developing outreach and collections as are the many LGBT librarians serving in libraries across America.  The internet has also become a vibrant platform for queer expression and discussion. Use these valuable resources because they are often closer than you’d think. To assist LGBT patrons, librarians must be able to recommend more than Brokeback Mountain.

Surveys have shown that reference services need a re-adjustment towards LGBT people. For librarians who find themselves at a lost, start small. Pathfinders, electronic and print, play an important role in information retrieval especially for patrons. The ever malleable pathfinder is also a discreet gateway to reference services for a endless variety of subjects and genres. Catch a queer reader’s attention with a pathfinder for LGBT movies and television; they will leave with more than some borrowed books and a print out. Pathfinders are a seemingly simple service that can educate both librarian and patron as well as serving as a research foundation for later outreach.  Librarians might find themselves learning more than the intended patron. By providing LGBT patrons a diverse and timely list of resources, librarians show themselves to be knowledgeable and sensitive to their needs which can transition to more LGBT people using the reference services.

Reader’s advisory services should go beyond the reference desk and pathfinders. Many library systems have made their websites more interactive or taken to blogging platforms. Don’t forget the LGBT tag! Librarians can easily incorporate LGBT book reviews, discussion threads, and other resources in the new era of Library 2.0. If you’re a librarian that is still running Library 1.0 then don’t fret. Set up a simple link to an RSS feed featuring great queer bloggers from all over the web, for instance. If you are still worried about making your library queer friendly then make the smallest yet biggest step of all. Put LGBT books on the shelves.

Reference service reform should go hand in hand with developing LGBT outreach programs. You’ve done the research, why not apply it? Open the library up to LGBT poetry groups, author chats, book clubs, and partnerships with local and national LGBT organizations, etc. Start small; go big.

These links are fun for reader and librarian alike. Blogs, book reviews, magazines, discussion forums, and YA websites can be found below along with even more. Many resources are not kid appropriate and some are not in English. This is by no means a complete listing of resources, but it can lead the reader and librarian off the beaten path to some fantastic queer material.

 

What are you looking for?

Recommendations

Websites

 LGBT Social Networking

 

 LGBT Organizations

 Pathfinders:

  • Transgender

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