21 June 2022 Blogs, Academic, Community College, Public, Librarian, Faculty, , ,

Loud and Proud: How Academic and Public Libraries Are Working to Amplify LGBTQ+ Voices

One-third of books banned from U.S. school libraries tell LGBTQ+ stories. Now, libraries on college campuses and in communities face an increased responsibility to make queer stories accessible.

By Noel Smart, Product Marketing Manager

For many in the U.S., Pride Month in June is a time to commemorate and celebrate the advancements of the LGBTQ+ community. But some believe recent concerted efforts to ban LGBTQ+ literature in schools across America pose a threat to strides previous generations of LGBTQ+ people have made toward achieving total acceptance.

A Ban on Representation

PEN America recently completed an analysis of book bannings in the U.S. Jonathan Friedman served as the lead author and said recent pushes to remove literature from school libraries occurred at an “unparalleled” rate compared to years past.

The researcher reports that 86 school districts in 26 states banned more than 1,500 books from July 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022. Of those titles, 379 books (33%) either addressed LGBTQ+ themes or have at least one main character who is queer.

These removals have some academic and public libraries determined to support access to queer voices by showing pride in their catalogs.

Publicly Uniting Communities

Purposefully sharing LGBTQ+ titles is important to Kris Fagre, the outreach librarian at Waverly (IA) Public Library. The curator said it is critical public libraries maintain holdings that give everyone a sense of belonging.

“We want to make sure we’re there for everyone in the community and I think we need to be really intentional about that,” Fagre said. “We might be the only place where people in town have access to those resources, so we take it very seriously.”

The librarian said Waverly uses Syndetics Unbound’s book display widgets to bring visibility to LGBTQ+ stories in their library. “I think it’s important for LGBTQ+ people to see that we have that literature, too. It’s important for them to know that our library is for everybody. We want to make sure that everyone in our community feels like they’re seen by us.”

Keeping Academics Diverse

Antonio Garcia Fernandez curates and promotes the collection of LGBTQ+ literature, movies, archival material, and online content at the U.K.’s University of York’s academic library. While the U.K. isn’t facing the same increase in book bannings, the need to collect LGBTQ+ stories and magnify those voices remains an imperative.

“As a library, we hold so much information – so much content – that it can be drowned [out]. It can be at the bottom of the list. So, it’s important every now and then to resurface that to make sure people are aware of all these resources that are for anyone to use,” he said. “Since we have Syndetics Unbound I use [book display] widgets. I use them to promote on the website, on Libguides, on tools that circulate to students.”

The collection and metadata manager said he acquires LGBTQ+ titles and shines a light on them to encourage scholars to apply what they learn about LGBTQ+ experiences in the real world. “What I’m hoping is that in the future, students find these resources and use them actively outside their studies,” he added.

Show Pride in Your Catalog

Librarians are charged with supporting inclusion and diversity in our society. One of the surest ways to accomplish that goal is to make titles that challenge the norm easy to find in their holdings.

Syndetics Unbound subscribers can use Book Display Widgets to create virtual book displays. We've curated a page of Book Display Widgets featuring LGBTQ+ titles to celebrate Pride. Click "Get this Widget" to copy any of the widgets for your own use.

For more information about Syndetics Unbound, visit Syndetics.com.