Saturday, February 3, 2007


Speaker: Alvin Schrader, School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta, CLA President-Elect

This session highlighted the importance of library services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. Since these youth experience severe emotional and physical pain, it is crucial that school and public library services are provided to them as a means to combat oppression in their communities.

-library is a safe place where these youth can get factual information to combat oppressions

-librarians are in important positions to connect people to the information they need
-libraries must address the needs of all the people in their communities
-librarians are powerful because they already exist within the system
-its important for librarians to notice which youth come in to the library repeatedly but don't ask questions at the reference desk

How librarians can reach out:
-display rainbow flag/colours
-develop readings lists of LGBTQ materials so these youth can find the information
-display gay-friendly posters
-have a shelf with materials that can be borrowed on an honour system
-start a gay-straight alliance in community

-queer literature reflects the experiences of these youth
-just because queer literature doesn't circulate, it doesn't mean it doesn't get used by the community
-a public library should serve all people in the community

-librarians can do so much for these youth that doesn't require alot of effort

-pressure from teachers and parents to keep queer literature off the shelves

-important for librarians to seek out likeminded people and have a support network in place in the community before taking on these initiatives
-be aware that your initiatives may create challenges/backlash in community
-there is personal risk involved for librarians in their jobs when doing this type of work

-important that librarians have professional development in this area

-Various policy frameworks for these issues (constitutional, legislative)

-studies show that there is poor quality/availability of queer reference collections in public libraries
-reference librarians are less than welcoming to queer reference inquiries (no positive closure to query, raised eyebrows)

-Calgary and Edmonton public libraries have the most queer titles in collections

-queer picture books not well represented in library collections

-studies also looked at subject headings for these titles in library catalogues
-most headings weren't specific
-no reference to nature of subject matter
-subject access is important issue

-many health information websites for queer youth are blocked by internet filters
-up to 60% of gay health sites are blocked (2002 study by Kaiser Family Foundation)

-many reasons/excuses/myths for not collecting queer materials in libraries

Strategies for building these collections/services:
-develop relationships with local groups, teachers, guidance counsellers, schools
-develop a professional development support network
-have policies and procedures in place regarding collection and access
-community advocacy

1 comment:

TL-in-TO said...

Agnese, I am so glad you talked about this session. I missed it because I was at a perfect companion to that one, #414. They even referenced Dr. S's paper! It's too bad they were on simultaneously, but at a conference of this size, that can't be helped. The funny thing is that the speakers of #423 & #414 were sitting next to each other at lunch and didn't realize it for a while! Needless to say, once they discovered each other, there were some amazing conversations going on.

I've read Dr. S's published paper on this topic and what hit home for me was that for some, libraries are a matter of life or death. Whatever your personal beliefs, if access to information is this critical, then we need to step up to the plate and take some of the suggestions given in both these sessions.