Why I Love Libraries

  • I don’t like buying books because I don’t like clutter.  We have two bookcases and they are full despite my best efforts and not buying.  When I do need to buy a book I get it either on audio or in e-book format so it doesn’t take up space.
  • I’m cheap.  I read 120-130 books in an average year.  I can’t afford to buy all those.
  • I like strolling through the stacks and accidentally finding a good book.
  • I can sit with my Goodreads TBR list open in one tab and my library website open in another and order up some books.  If I’m browsing I go to the big main library downtown but I get books delivered to a branch that I drive past on my way to work to make it easy to pick them up.
  • Bookstores drive me crazy because they aren’t organized like libraries and I can’t find anything.  Dewey decimal system forever!

Things That I Don’t Like About My Library

  • I’ve complained before about their insane organization system during my Library Scavenger Hunt post.
  • Another thing that bothers me about my library is that they have an African-American Fiction section.
    • No other races are segregated in their own section.  Asian authors and Native American authors are in the general fiction section.
    • They call it African-American on the shelves but they keep Zadie Smith’s books here and she’s British.  There are also some African authors here.  That just bothers me because they aren’t American and libraries shouldn’t lie.  The website and stickers on the books just say, “Black”.
    • Black authors who write specific genres may be housed in their genre.  N.K. Jemisin is in Sci-Fi/Fantasy.  Poor Octavia Butler is split between Sci-Fi and African-American depending on the book.
    • I think that people may miss out on finding these authors since they are in their own section and not with the rest of the books.
    • It is a good thing that Jemisin is in Sci-Fi.  She hates African-American sections.

Why do you love libraries?  What would you change? Does shelving by race of the author make sense?



7 Replies to “Library Love”

  1. This is very thought provoking. I’ve never really analyzed my thoughts on African-American shelves (although I do feel strongly about the use of African American and I’m in total agreement with you on that) but I read the N.K. Jemisin post on it and it’s definitely given me a lot to think on. (My library has her books in both SFF and the African American room). Speaking solely for my own reading habits, I’m inclined to dislike the segregation because I rarely venture from the SFF and YA shelves. I know that’s where I’ll find the books I want – but if there are books that could be there but are on the opposite end of the library on an entirely different floor? (My library is HUGE. It’s like three or four stories and that’s not including all their rooms that you have to get special entry into) I’m not likely to make it there. Who knows what I might be missing out on! Besides the point, when I DID go to the African American room (funnily enough to pick up a Jemisin book that was missing from the SFF section) I felt deeply uncomfortable. I got definite LOOKS. So I’m glad I wasn’t browsing because I wouldn’t have been able to feel comfortable enough to lose myself in book descriptions because of how unwelcome I was feeling haha. (But then I suppose other races probably feel that often enough at libraries. Hmmm.)

  2. I showcase authors during Black History Month, but to permanently shelve authors separately seems odd. Have you asked why your library does this? It might have started out as a good idea, but perhaps outlived its usefulness. A lot of school libraries genre-fy, but that would drive me crazy, so I never permanently move books out of Dewey or author organization.

  3. I actually find that racist to segregate books by the race of the Author because personally it shouldn’t matter WHERE the Author originates from, if their book is fantastic it’s fantastic, if their book is crap, it’s crap…it has NOTHING to do with the colour of their skin. I really had thought that we were way past this stage in this era.

    So my answer to your question? It totally does not make sense!

    Here’s my BEA Intro Post

What Do You Think?