MoLib 2006: Braving Stormy Water

Braving Stormy Water

Originally uploaded by Jenne1989.

Presented by: The Mid-Continent Public Library’s GLBT Group
Thursday, Oct 5, 2006, 9am-9:45am

This was a great session. The presenters covered how to build a core GLBT collection.

They started with describing how to define this core collection. They looked at lists generated by the ALA and by some GLBT writers’ groups. They compared this list to the holdings at the libary and purchased books using rotating budget money.

Advice for forming the group:
-treat it like a real organization
-send minutes up the chain of command
-gather facts
-know how to evaluate a need

One presenter said the group started with a request for Out magazine. The group started with a small collection and just put it out. Then they watched circulation statistics. They said every item circulated, despite the location and apparent demographics of each branch. Eventually, patrons will start requesting the items. For outreach, they made bookmarks and left them at GLBT centers.

They wanted to make sure the collection fit three types of needs: legal, health, and social. They also wanted to make sure the collection was balanced along the GLBTQA spectrum, without being too heavy in one area.

Then, the subject of talking to the administration came up. The group informed the rest of the librarians what they were doing, then met face to face in a staff meeting. They emphasized the importance of being professional and responsible about the whole thing. Only one book on their desired list was turned down, most likely because it was in Graphic Novel format.

This was a really good session. The presenters noted that the way they went about building the collection served as a pilot program for building collections for other populations (such as foreign language collections.)

Another thing that was neat about the presentation was that at least one board member attended (as an audience member) and spoke up when another attendee asked about how the group dealt with the board. He said their board was supportive of the group.

The only thing that bothered me was the repetition that “They’ll know the authors,” implying that GLBT patrons already have knowledge of what they’re looking for. I’m not sure that applies across the board, though. In a small rural town, GLBT patrons might not be exposed to any kind of information about writers, books, or magazines to watch out for.

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