I personally am somewhat against separating items of different genres in libraries. It seems like there are too many times when a book might fit perfectly into two or more genres, and if the library only has one copy, the question becomes, where should it go? I know not dividing up books and other materials by genre can be somewhat frustrating for patrons looking for items in a specific genre, but it also provides an opportunity for these same patrons to discover something new they might never had considered before. When items are divided up, as stated in this week's prompt, it somewhat does promote segregation between the various genres-- we just discussed this same sort of thing last week in our YA, NA, and graphic novel prompt response.
My solution would be to keep all the adult fiction together, sort them by author, and have different genres identified by spine label stickers. My library does this, and it seems to work pretty well. The various genres, such as romance, paranormal, horror, and more, each have their own spine label sticker with a unique color and symbol or picture. The name of the genre is also listed below the image for further clarification of what genre it represents. I can see this easily being implemented and used for GLBTQ fiction and African American fiction. When there is more than one genre or section an item fits into, additional spine label stickers can easily be added to the item.
Specifically, my three reasons for this spine-label-sticker solution include:
- Separation of different genres or sections of items promotes segregation and discourages branching out into new genres. If a patron believes they would never like a Science Fiction item, they might not ever travel into the separated Science Fiction section at their library. However, when all of the adult fiction books are together in one location at the library, this patron is more likely to come across a book with Science Fiction elements in it that they find interesting and enjoy.
- Including genre spine labels on books is an easy way to allow all patrons who enjoy these genres to find these items. When the genres are separated, if the library only has one copy of a book that fits into two different genres, one genre will have to be chosen above the rest for the book to be located. Patrons looking for the book in the genre section(s) not selected might simply assume the library does not carry the item. We should make things simpler for the patron, not more complicated and confusing.
- These items can be somewhat controversial, so some patrons might feel embarrassed or even nervous about entering or even browsing in sections clearly marked as GLBTQ, African American fiction, or even New Adult for that matter. By keeping all of the adult fiction together and in one location, patrons are more free to explore items with more controversial genres without worrying about anyone "seeing them in the [insert genre/area here] section." While I can see many librarians not understanding why patrons might be concerned about what others think about their personal reading choices, I have to think about our discussions last week about adults reading YA items. Even though some patrons might be worried about what others may think, we should respect each patrons privacy and encourage them to read whatever they are interested in, no matter the genre or format.