Recently I heard Tracy Timmons-Gray talked about getting queer romances into local libraries both in her opening remarks for Gay Romance Northwest Meetup and in this article she wrote for Queer Romance Month.
After reading her article I was inspired to look at my local library system and see if they had any queer romances on the shelves.
Where I live the local libraries for the four surrounding counties are joined together into one big library system. So when I searched for romance novels and queer romance novels in particular I was looking at not only what my local libraries had but the books owned by all the libraries for my entire part of the state.
Over the course of several days I did multiple searches using a variety of key words and managed to find two things out. First the combined libraries in the system held over a thousand romance books, some of them published all the way back in the seventies but many of them published within the last few years. In fact I could scroll through multiple pages worth of romance novels owned by my library system published in 2014 alone. So these libraries are certainly romance friendly and in fact buy many romance novels pretty regularly.
The second thing I found out was that out of all these romance novels only one was a queer romance. Bound to be a Groom by Megan Mulry was owned by a tiny library in the next county over from where I lived. Of the four public libraries within easy driving distance to me none of them had any queer romance novels at all.
So, just like Tracy suggested in her article, I contacted the largest and best funded of these four libraries to ask if I could request some queer romance titles for them to look into getting. I got a very nice email back only hours after I'd sent mine telling me that yes, I could request books and explaining how that was done.
Which left me to try and come up with a list of queer romance titles to recommend (I guess I should have already done this but I wasn't expect the process to be as fast or easy as it ended up being.) I will be honest the list I threw together was mostly based on two things: a) how much I like/want to read/want to reread the books and b) if the title was available in both ebook and paperback format since I didn't know which the librarians would prefer. I also wanted to suggest more than one or two titles but I also didn't want to go crazy and overwhelm the staff all at once.
A Suitable Replacement by Megan Derr
Apple Polisher by Heidi Belleau
Appetite by Talya Andor
Stolen Hearts by Sasha Miller
The Magpie Lord by KJ Charles
Spectr: Volume 1 and 2 by Jordan L. Hawk
Iron & Velvet by Alexis Hall
I got a nice email back saying my list had been past along to the librarians in charge of purchasing books, and I thanked them for their helpfulness.
Now we wait and see what happens, but so far the entire process was pleasant and painless for me.
I am really hoping at least some of these books are purchased. I would LOVE to see queer romance in any of these four libraries.
The area I am living in now is area I grew up in. The libraries I am now emailing and talking to about queer romance were the libraries I went to as a child and a young adult.
My parents both value books, reading and libraries highly. Growing up we went to the library every week. Often we would go to all four libraries on library day, bringing home stacks of books.
What I read as a child and a teenager was largely determined by what the libraries owned. I learned how to pick out books, what I liked and didn't like by browsing the shelves at the library.
The first book by Neil Gaiman I ever read was Neverwhere and I read it because it caught my eye on the newly acquired shelf at one of these libraries. I read authors who have been so influence for me; Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters, Anne McCaffrey, Lois McMaster Bujold, Diana Wynne Jones and many more by taking their books out of these libraries. I read my first anthology of Gothic horror stories sitting in the isles of the library I just emailed.
The books these libraries own, the books they choose to buy have been so important to me personally. But the one thing I never read there was queer romance. I would love to see them get some.
So here are my questions for all of you:
What queer romance novels would you have liked your local libraries to have when you were growing up?
What queer romance title would you love a chance to give to your sixteen, seventeen, eighteen year old self if you could?
Most importantly what titles would you love to take our of your local library right now?