June 20, 2018

You asked, we listened!: Diversity appeal on adult titles

Back in 2015, in response to #weneeddiversebooks, NoveList created four diversity character appeal terms: ability diverse, culturally diverse, LGBTQIA diverse, and religiously diverse. These appeal terms are a way for librarians and readers to find diverse books that neither genres nor subject headings can get at. As the movement focused on children’s books, we only added these appeal terms to juvenile titles. However, many customers expressed the wish to have these appeal terms on adult titles. After many discussions and a lot of work, we have begun adding diversity appeal to adult titles, too!

You might ask, diversity as compared to what? Excellent question, since it certainly depends on one’s own community. It has long been the norm for the publishing industry to promote books that are about white, able-bodied, heterosexual, cisgendered, Christian characters. The NoveList diversity appeal terms highlight the books where characters have traits other than these, like a character who identifies as a lesbian or a Muslim. Our diversity appeal terms are only used on books where a character’s diversity is both respected and authentic, whether the book is set in our backyard (North Carolina), your backyard, or a place completely imagined by the author. We hope that this new access point will help you find the diverse books you and your patrons want to read. This is an ongoing project, so keep coming back to find new diverse titles. If you see a book that you think should have a diversity appeal term, use the feedback link at the top right of the NoveList database to let us know.

Currently, I am reading Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie, a book that is both culturally diverse and religiously diverse, and recently won the Women’s Prize for Fiction! I am also reading (because who can only read one book at a time?) Cat Sebastian’s delightful Unmasked by the Marquess (LGBTQIA diverse). Do you have a favorite diverse book? What diverse books do you have on your TBR list? Let us know!

Psst: can you keep a secret? We’re creating a new appeal term related to diversity that will be unveiled late summer/early fall. We’re excited, and we think you’ll be excited, too!

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Elizabeth Coleman is a Metadata Librarian II

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