RE: RARA-AVIS: Re: Libraries: Nevins after all

From: Todd Mason (
Date: 15 Jun 2001

Depends, perhaps only sometimes, whether the small library is a satellite or primary institution. In my experience, and that of the Philadelphia Free Library (where the small satellite libraries might barely have fiction divisions) and Fairfax County, VA, system (where I used to work in circulation), the mall storefront libraries usually don't bother differentiating the fiction very much, but in Londonderry, NH's Leach Library (where, in 1976-1979, some of the most irritable and perhaps underpayed librarians in my experience were employed), not much larger at the time, they did have a rather inept attempt to segregate fiction by various categories. The little libraries in the Hawaiian state system, and the Nashua, NH and Enfield, CT libraries definitely had sectionalized fiction in their mid-sized libraries in the 1970s.

Of course, most westerns involving Canada or Alaska have often been considered "northerns" in the pulps and their successor media, and may, in Canadian libraries at least, be considered simply Canadian literature, whether that is likely to be segregated or not I know not.

If horror circulates like "mainstream" fiction it's likely in part because the self-conscious horror audience is small, like that of most of the generic components of "mainstream." TM

-----Original Message----- From: [mailto:] r
>You've never been in a library that had Science Fiction, Mystery,
>Western, Horror, and/or Romance sections? Ever?
>Maybe it's just my experience, then.

> I've been in both types. I think it has to do with the size of the
> library more than rather it's rural or urban (some big city
> libraries have sub-branches all over). Big ones divide, small ones
> don't.

Not my experience--but as this thread has shown, my experience is hardly the norm.

> As for categories, though, I've never been in a library where there
> were western or horror sections. The western category is probably
> an American thing

Yeah, you're probably right about that. Even up in Chicago, though, the libraries I worked in--even the urban ones--had their own Westerns section.

> in Quebec. Maybe out west more. But horror? Are there libraries
> that have so many horror books that they actually have their own
> section? I'm boggled.

Yep. And per book they circulate at least as well as mainstream fiction, in my experience.

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