A helping hand for queer & questioning youth – provision for young LGBTIQ people in Irish public libraries

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Goodwin, Grant
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MSc Information and Library Management
Dublin Business School
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This research offers a review of the current state of provision for young LGBTIQ people in Irish public libraries. No previous published research exists within an Irish context, and this thesis seeks to open the discussion for Irish public libraries. Although progress in Ireland regarding LGBTIQ legal and social recognition is evident, the lack of research into public library provision forestalls attempts to develop LGBTIQ collections, and results in public libraries being overlooked in the development of national strategies to support young LGBTIQ people. This study investigates existing public library policies regarding LGBTIQ collections and patrons, undertakes a catalogue review of recommended LGBTIQ titles by county, considers existing collection practice and provision identified by librarians, and explores librarian experience with dealing with young LGBTIQ people and recognition of their Information Needs is reviewed, with consideration of the challenges present to developing this provision. Respondents were found to be generally positive towards more engagement or training, but report little experience in actually receiving queries and requests. Most respondents broadly recognise the Information Needs of this community, but few report that strategies are currently employed to address these Needs. Engagement with the LGBTIQ community’s needs is characterised as ‘reactive’ rather than proactive, with challenges to developing collections or hosting events posed by conservative communities and a lack of awareness of what young LGBTIQ people actually wish to derive from the service. Recommendations are made for further research and collection and policy development. The potential role of the public library in addressing the current needs of young LGBTIQ people is proposed as a unique opportunity not apparently considered by either the service or the LGBTIQ community yet.