Not Yet Out of the Closet: How the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Publishing Industry in the United States Affects Public Library Collections

Emilia R Marcyk


Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) identities are becoming increasingly visible across American public spaces. Larger, non-specialty presses have begun publishing books by LGBT authors and with LGBT characters, filling a role traditionally played by small, LGBT-focused presses. However, in attempts to appeal to a non-LGBT audience, many larger presses have erased or downplayed LGBT identities in publisher-generated metadata and book jacket blurbs, making it difficult to determine LGBT content. This poster demonstrates that these changes have negatively affected the visibility of LGBT books in public library collections. By examining the subject headings attributed to books with LGBT characters or themes across eight mid-size American public library collections, the author found that books from large presses were less likely to be identified with LGBT-specific subject headings than their LGBT-press counterparts. Without indicative subject headings, access to LGBT fiction titles for patrons and librarians providing reader’s advisory becomes difficult.

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