Communities and Collections

Some Love Lost: Access to Romance Fiction in Edmonton Regional Public Libraries

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  • Romance fiction remains one of the most read but least respected literary genres. Traditionally, public libraries have shunned romance fiction, either refusing to stock romance novels or purposefully limiting their collection. Nevertheless, the unwavering demand for romance fiction and the shift towards user-oriented services and acquisitions has solidified the genre’s place on contemporary public library shelves. This overall acceptance does not mean that romance fiction is always accessible to patrons, however. Professional library and information science (LIS) literature suggests that romance readers are routinely marginalized in public libraries due to the limited accessibility of romance novels, with cataloguing and classification being identified as one of the areas contributing to this issue. Vassiliki Veros (2012) argues that romance novels are treated as disposable literature and catalogued to a minimal standard or not at all. This makes romance novels difficult to search for and find in a library’s catalogue and on the shelf. However, little LIS research has been conducted on the topic of romance fiction and what studies are available do not focus on accessibility and cataloguing. This mix-method case study investigates the accessibility or romance fiction in three Edmonton regional public libraries and in their individual online catalogues. Data was collected in the form of in-person observations performed by the researcher, as well as through the evaluation of bibliographic records of a representational sample of romance novels. The results suggest that while the selected libraries treat romance fiction similarly to other genres in terms of organization and shelving, barriers still remain in making romance fiction visible in the library, especially in regard to hard and softcover books. It was also determined that efforts are being made to increase the accessibility of romance fiction in the libraries’ catalogues through the application of diverse subject-headings. However, this practice was not consistent across all three libraries. Ultimately, more needs to be done to ensure that romance fiction is easily available to romance reading patrons in order to ensure a positive library experience.

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    Conference/Workshop Presentation
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    Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International