Monday, October 18, 2010

Outliers - They need to feel welcome in the library as well

Libraries are meant to be open to the public – meaning all sorts of people are supposed to be free to use the library… but so what if they can come in – how are they supposed to feel welcome when there aren't many materials that appeal to their population? Tweens and teens coming into the library for reading materials expect to find something that resonates with who they are. They hope to find characters similar to themselves on the shelves and when they don't, I believe that they lose some faith in the library.

David Levithan, writes that "being gay is not an issue, it is an identity unlike his insular town. It is not something that you can agree or disagree with. It is a fact, and must be defended and represented a fact" (2004, p. 44). This indicates to me that authors are aware of what needs to be done in order to properly represent an outlier population; it is now up to librarians to make sure they do so. Levithan believes that, "Silencing books silences the readers who need them most. And silencing these readers can have dire, tragic consequences (2004, p. 44). So this makes me ask, how are we supposed to help a group of tweens and teens that are either searching to find who they are by reading a variety of books in hopes of finding a character similar to themselves or are looking for support?

An inspiring article I read by Carlos Alcala (2007) is about how a High School English teacher saw that there was a lack of gay and lesbian reading materials for her LGBT teens to read. Kim Wallace made the decision to write something that would appeal to her students; Wallace wrote Erik & Isabelle: Freshman Year at Foresthill High and three other books in a series for LGBT teens. I think that this is a great example of someone noticing a population not being represented in reading materials and then putting in the effort to correct that mistake.

References:

Alcala, C.  (2007, November 1). Gay student literature series a hit :[METRO FINAL Edition]. The Sacramento Bee,p. G1.  Retrieved October 18, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand. (Document ID: 1375910221).

Levithan, D. (2004, October). Supporting gay teen literature: an advocate speaks out for representation on library shelves.  School Library Journal, 50, 10. p.44(2). Retrieved October 18, 2010, from General Reference Center Gold via Gale:

The article that inspired this post, about coming out in middle school:

Denizet-Lewis, B., Murray, C., & Buffett, S.. (2009, September). Coming out in middle school. New York Times Magazine,36-41,52,54-55.  Retrieved October 18, 2010, from New York Times. (Document ID: 1873513361).

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