So I’ve learned many things on this trip. First, and foremost is that trying to write and format a blog post on my iPhone is an exercise in futility. Next, that the cell reception in Seattle is ridiculous if you’re an AT&T customer, and the resulting lack of regular wifi can cause such a bottle neck on my Facebook alerts, that I crash the app and have to reinstall. Which leads me to consider that instead of the juice fast, a tech fast might be in order, instead. (Yeah, right.)
The conference itself was a revelation. It’s good to see the people I spend so much time on Facebook with, in person, and the networking at these events is invaluable. But most fascinating to me was the keynote speaker at the downtown Seattle Public Library – host for this year’s Gay Romance Northwest Meet-up.
The librarian spoke about the importance of having public access to GLBT material in local libraries which have historically been the oasis for controversial material not available elsewhere. Getting books that reflect the many faces of the GLBT community into the hands of the those who want, or need them, can be a challenge. Not just from resistance from local library boards that may reflect more conservative community standards.
Even in areas that don’t face cultural resistance, libraries have to rely on only a select handful of literary and library review journals to provide them with the titles that they purchase for their collections and gay fiction is not often represented in mainstream publishing and media. In the face of this, even the most receptive librarians need the assistance of the the consumers of these books. The clarion call was for authors and readers to take a direct role in facilitating the dissemination of GLBT fiction through the public library systems, nationwide.
For readers, it’s the easiest task. Ask. I’m sure there is a handful of libraries out there that aren’t online yet, but for the rest of them – each website should have a link to a suggestion form for new titles. Be a fan, ask for the books you love, encourage other readers of this genre to do the say. Local demand drives purchasing decisions.
For authors, the call was for us to reach out to our public libraries. Librarians are more open to book readings and promoting the work of local authors. And as this year’s GRNW Meet-up shows, the partnership between public libraries, local booksellers, authors and members of the GLBT community can produce unexpectedly positive results for the community at large. As a result of this years conference, the Seattle public library purchased 200 new GLBT books for their collection.