15-yr-old Gay Book Blogger Has Something to Say to Librarians


An avid reader who co-authors a book review blog, The Naughty Book Kitties, 15-yr-old Brent wrote a guest post at Pinched Nerves that has received thousands of views since it was posted on June 15th and linked by The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan the same day.

The post, titled Gay teen blogger/book reviewer takes librarians to task over LGBT lit, describes Brent's disappointing encounters with librarians and libraries (and awareness that not all librarians are like those he's encountered), what he'd like to see in a well-rounded GLBTQ YA book collection (hint: not just coming-out narratives), and how crucial books with gay teen characters have been to his development as a proud gay teen.

Don't miss the good discussion in the comments left on the post--many by librarians and a few by YA authors, including Ellen Hopkins and Michael Grant.


>“This is a school library. If you are looking to read inappropriate titles, go to a book store.” Uhm, how in the hell is LGBT YA lit “inappropriate”?

Simple fix. Close all school libraries. Kids want to read? Use your public library. Why taxpayers have to fund overlapping libraries in the community is beyond me. I am all for a good public library. One way to have a good public library is to close all the school libraries and funnel the money to the public library. If you want to do free and open reading you need to be away from school for that. Schools are locked down and everything is done to protect children.

School and Public libraries don't overlap as much as you might think. A school library exists primarily to support the curriculum and aid new/developing readers, while a Public Library exists to provide information and resources (and entertainment) to the public. School libraries have a narrow range of focus demographically and are organized and developed (hopefully) by people specialized for what their users need. Public libraries have a much more diffuse demographic and collection as well as vision and mission.
Also, many children do not have regular access to public libraries due to transportation issues, time issues, and sadly, parent disinterest. A latchkey kid who comes home after school and waits alone until their parent/caretaker gets home from work might never get a chance to go to a public library, but could have access while in school.
Saying that you can cut school libraries and just use public libraries is like saying that because we have soup kitchens, we don't need school lunch programs. It's never a good husbanding of resources to cut public support of children and education.
Of course, even worse would be dropping public libraries and allowing the public to use school libraries. I've actually seen this suggested. Really... Parents want random adults entering their child's school? I don't think so.

I am part of a public library and although I find more uses for my public library, school libraries are also very useful for hard core research. Teachers and admins can emphasize the importance of school libraries by introducing their students to the key uses of libraries. That being said, our school system has let go of the school librarian positions here and thus created a golden opportunity. Through working with the schools we can help mend, not replace, some of the chaos from letting go of genuine school librarians.

School libraries and public libraries do overlap, but very lightly and sometimes not at all. I am the Teen Services Coordinator (will be a librarian in 3 more years) and I am all for more GBLT literature. It is through literature that we learn more about ourselves and other humans. There isn't many who request it, but after reading this I will be keeping my ear closer to the ground on this.

if he really wanted the books, he'd make a list of ten titles and supply some reviews *not* from Amazon, then he at least did something besides whine and complain.
trust me, it's the same rules we would use for buying manga or any other genre that we'd overlooked or neglected.

So, he's supposed to do the librarian's job for her/him? Getting reviews and making decisions based on reviews, budget, etc. tend to be the librarian's job, if I'm not mistaken.

At my library, a patron can request books by author, subject, title, etc. We don't require them to provide reviews. We don't guarantee that we will be able to buy all the requests, but we do let them when that decision is made. We also provide them with the appropriate forms for ILL if they want to go that route. If it's out of print, we do our best them find it, be it from a list of used bookstores to online resources like elibris and Amazon.

I figured the kid should also learn how to do the research.

The easiest way to persuade someone is do the tedious work: "look, I cleaned my room, can I have a sleepover?"

so, yeah, kid, do some work and I'm much more likely to listen to you.

He did mention he requested specific titles/authors at his public library. And the attitude from his school librarian says something. She turned him down flat and told him to go elsewhere. She made her mind up and nothing, not even reviews would have changed her mind. Most likely he would have been turned down again because those books were deemed "inappropriate". So, doing the librarian's work for her wouldn't have been enough.

Would you require the general public/adults in a public library setting to do the same amount of research? If not, why is it different for this kid? Because this kid should "learn" how to do the research? Really. I could claim to not help my patrons because they already should have learned to do their own research. That would be laziness on my part and most likely would get me fired. Part of my job is teaching the use of resources. Part of the school librarian's job (presumably) would be to offer this kid resources to find those reviews, show him where to look.

... we ask for more information when a patron suggests that we purchase materials.. and guess what, they are happy to give it because they just read about it in the paper or a magazine, etc. and they know they will get something for free... so yes, we ask the public for this type of information all the time...

and he did not recommend any titles to the librarian: "There was not one single LGBT novel... When I asked her about it, she replied, “This is a school library. If you are looking to read inappropriate titles, go to a book store.” Uhm, how in the hell is LGBT YA lit “inappropriate”?"

so, no, he brought nothing to the table. FAIL.

If you actually read what I typed. I said he recommended titles and authors to his PUBLIC library, not the school library.

And at my library, we take title, author or subject. We see what we have on the subject or if we have other books by that author, etc. We do the legwork because that is what we do--we evaluate the reviews, look at our own collection. If a patron brings in a review or mentions it, fine. If not, fine as well.

I still think he failed when he could have done something useful. Pointing out a deficiency is not nearly as powerful as suggesting a solution. So I don't think that this kid's some hero.

so, apology to you, 0 points to him.

He pointed out the deficiency, yes. But with the response of the school librarian, do you really think he would have made more headway with reviews? I doubt it, if she truly said that LGBT titles were "inappropriate" and referred him elsewhere. Her mind was already made up, whether it was budgetary concerns, personal beliefs, school politics or any combination of those. She could have directed him to resources to look up reviews or specific titles. She could have told him there was no more money in the book budget for that school year. She could have gave him any number of reasons why they were not in the collection, and why she wasn't able to get any, but she totally shut down.

I do agree that he could have done more. I just don't believe that we should 'require' our patrons to do the legwork. Even if a patron of mine comes to me with a review, I will double-check it. Verifying sources and all that.

That "lazy whining kid," as you called him, is a prolific blogger, focusing on his own, rather extensive reviews of YA literature. And he's very good at it. At 15, he has built enviable relationships with publishing houses, authors, and publicists who supply him with both ARCS and published books for review. And he was recently recruited by Lambda Literary to write a teen column for them. He is getting paid for none of this.

A list would not have mattered. As Brent clearly stated, the librarian in question considered such titles "inappropriate," and thus was unlikely to order any. And I'm not sure what the NOT FROM AMAZON suggests. Amazon includes reviews from all the top reviewing journals in addition to readers' reviews. You can't beat that.

Your "we" suggests that you are a librarian, Anonymous. Shame on you.

Everything a teenager says sounds whiny to an adult. From "Please get more interesting books in the library" to "Can I borrow the car?" to "Mom, do you have to drink so much?" All whiny. All the time. Any teenager who sounds even remotely rational (like this blogger does) must be from another planet.

There need to be items from both sides of the fence. The voices of ex-gays should not be kept silent! Librarians should not shy away from Christian and ex-gay views of the issue.