Finding diverseness literature

Monday, June 24, 2019

Recently, Booklist released their ďSpotlight on DiversityĒ issue. In the editorís note, Sarah Hunter questioned whether it is a disservice to books by and about marginalized people to lump them all together in one issue. The same can be said of putting them in one category or one genre. Relegating books into further subcategories does little, if anything, to challenge our perceptions on normal. Instead it confirms out suspicions that no, this isnít normal so letís create a new space for it.

Donít get me wrong; there is an issue with diversity in the publishing industry, it should be talked about, and it should be addressed.

Iíve found various statistics online which report that of all the fiction books publishing companies distribute, around 10% are what could fit into this demographic.

I know this sounds more like a publishing problem than a library problem, but what can libraries do to help patrons discover diverse literature?

One step is for libraries and librarians to build displays or reading lists on the topics of diversity. It takes a fair amount of work to complete a bibliography of every book in the collection which fits in the above demographics, but it is work which serves the personal and academic interests of students and community members.

Another thing which should be addressed is how the Library of Congress (LOC) adds new subject headings. The LOC is PAINFULLY slow at adapting to newer terminology. Only in the 1970s were the outdated headings "Aeroplanes" and "Water-closets" updated to "Airplanes" and "Toilets." A watershed of sorts was marked in 1987 when a decision was made to cancel the heading "Moving-pictures" in favor of "Motion Pictures," even though that change involved revising authority records for approximately 400 related headings and updating the subject headings assigned to thousands of catalog entries. Changes like this happen regularly, but the LOC is still painfully slow at adapting to current terminology.

Finally, librarians can be a bit more diligent in cataloging materials which are from diverse authors. Adding additional subject headings, and being meticulous with adding additional subheadings is a great way to ensure that library patrons can find not just diverse material, but any material which they may need for their personal or academic interests.

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