GLBT Lit: Is It Widely Available?

I’ve been working on a project to help determine how widely available GLBT literature is in private (in home) and public library collections. I’m using the collection at the GLCC of Pittsburgh Library (4,800 books) as a base to start my “research”. It’s fairly easy to do some of the collection analysis since everything has been entered into LibraryThing.

From our LibraryThing entries I can see how many other libraries and individuals have collected the same titles and which titles have been scanned or loaded into the Google Books Project. A couple more clicks does a WorldCat search and I can see how many libraries worldwide own each title. If the item is owned by another local library (Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh or the University of Pittsburgh Library System) I’m indicating that as well.

The GLCC Library collection is pretty evenly divided between fiction/literature and non-fiction so the analysis will have a good mix of different types of books. Every book added since January 2011 (163 books) has been analyzed and I’ve done another 1,300 or so that were added previously.

For the most part I can say that GLBT literature is fairly widely held and based on the other local library’s holdings it’s well represented in Pittsburgh. Of the titles analyzed so far:
513 are not owned by either of the other local libraries. (GLCC collection only)
728 are owned by the University of Pittsburgh
605 are owned by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
630 have at least a partial view in Google Books

I’m going to continue with this phase of analysis for a while then tackle a second phase that will deal with the rare items that are not widely held by libraries on OCLC and LibraryThing. We have many books in our collection that I can’t find on OCLC. That doesn’t necessarily mean that no one has them but if I can’t find them on OCLC not many users could.

I’m proving the old adage that “librarians like to search and users want to find” is true. Only the most determined user could find some of this stuff.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Phil Johnson Library, RCD
    Apr 01, 2011 @ 16:35:57

    I am also interested in this same question of public access to GLBT titles. The Phil Johnson Library, Resource Center Dallas has over 7,000 titles all focusing on GLBT topics (or very closely related). We too have seen that some of our titles have few or no holdings in OCLC and/or are not available in a reasonable distance. Is the GLCC library willing to share its findings?


  2. qbib
    Apr 05, 2011 @ 14:12:04

    I’m more than glad to share our findings. In our catalog, on LibraryThing (LT) I’ve indicated the number of holding found on OCLC in the comments field. I’ve also indicated if they have been scanned into the Google Books Project. Who knows what will happen with these digitized versions since the judge ruled against the Google settlement a few weeks ago. I’m sure there must be an appeal in the works.

    Using 50 copies (OCLC + LT) as the demarcation point for determining rare is probable too high. However, since most of the LT items are in personal collections who knows what will happen to them in the future. I’m working hard to get folks to donate to their local GLBT library or archive and I’ve had some success in getting some sizable donations.

    I also indicate if the item is available locally. I’ve created LT collections for the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP). Pitt is the largest academic research library in our area and CLP is our public library. When the comments field says “0 local” the item is only held by the GLCC library.

    I’m very interested in sharing duplicates with other GLBT libraries who need/want them. We just received about 3,000 duplicate items from the Quatrefoil Library in St. Paul. We’ll add about 1/2 to 2/3rds of those to our collection and the rest we already have. We’ll be looking for a good home for the dups.


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