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Controversial Books in the Public Library: A Comparative Survey of Holdings of Gay-Related Children's Picture Books

Alex Spence
The Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy
Vol. 70, No. 3 (Jul., 2000), pp. 335-379
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4309441
Page Count: 45
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Abstract

This study examines an area of book publishing that has generated some controversy for public libraries. A checklist of thirty English-language children's picture books with gay characters or gay-related contents is presented. "Picture book" is broadly defined to include highly illustrated works of various degrees of difficulty which are directed to an audience aged from approximately four to eleven. Titles were checked against the catalogs of 101 public library systems to determine number of titles and number of copies of titles held. Libraries were drawn from each of the fifty American states and ten Canadian provinces, with some representation also from New Zealand, Australia, and Britain. Comparisons of holdings among library systems show large differences. Similarly, comparisons among titles show some works to be much more widely held than others, and, in support of Serebnick's earlier findings, there is a pattern of increase in the number of holding libraries when there is an increase in number of mainstream library journal reviews. The rating scheme applied to the reviews from six mainstream journals offers some guidance to the reader and highlights divergence of critical opinion with regard to some titles.

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