|Fiction section at Oaklyn Library featuring genre stickers.|
I don't think books should be singled out and separated just because of their subject matter, unless we are featuring them on display. In February we feature books with African American themes on our display cases and in June we display books with GBLTQ themes in order to draw awareness to the collection. That is the only time I could see myself having collections separated like that, just because it is not done with the rest of our collection with the exception of Holiday books and paperbacks.
However, the stickers might cause some issues, for example, if a teen wanted to read a book with the GLBTQ themes and a parent who didn't approve saw the sticker, they might not allow their child to read that book, but if there wasn't a sticker, the parent would never know and the child would be able to read their book and the parent would be none the wiser.
Ultimately I wouldn't separate these books because it might sway people away from reading them due to genre prejudices, we don't keep other genres separate, and where would you draw the line? Would every book written by an African American author be in a separate section? Would Toni Morrison be in that section, even though we have some of her books as classics? Is Oscar Wilde going to be put in the GLBTQ section? And what about James Baldwin? He discusses the African American experience, but also the experience of gay and bisexual men, so would there be multiple copies of his books to make sure both themes are covered? Who decides if he is gay or African American? I certainly don't want to make that choice.
I would also like to note that the ALA says this about labeling: Directional aids can have the effect of prejudicial labels when their implementation becomes proscriptive rather than descriptive. When directional aids are used to forbid access or to suggest moral or doctrinal endorsement, the effect is the same as prejudicial labeling.