I'm very glad that this week this was the discussion question. When I worked in Indiana at the Carmel Clay Public Library, there was never any discussion of having separate sections for various "categories" of books. However, now that I am in Dallas and in a system where there are 28 different branches, the discussion of pulling items out to create their own section had been in the works and has been done at one specific branch. This branch is in a predominately African-American neighborhood of Dallas. Because of this there was a community "need" for books that had African-American characters and patrons also wanted to be able to identify these books easily, therefore the library classified them as "African-American literature" and separated them out. This has been something that has had positive feedback from the public who use this branch and request materials online. In my experience, I believe that LGBT and African-American fiction can be separated out, but I believe that there should be a need/reason behind doing so and ways to do so. Below I will lay out my reasons why:
1. Community Needs.
I think it can be an appropriate thing to pull books in their respective categories to meet the want and need of patrons. If the library is a branch or main library that is in an area of the city or neighborhood which has a population that are looking for books within a certain subject area constantly, it might be worth looking into pulling these materials to make the access easier. As mentioned above one of the branches at the Dallas Public Library is an a mainly African-American populated area and they are extremely proud of their heritage. Because of this, they requested to have books pulled out to be a part of an African-American section so that they would have an easier time identifying titles that fit within their wants/needs. In cases such as these, catering to and listening to the community is very important and library usage at this location has only improved.
If a library is thinking about creating some sort of separate space for collections such as LGBT or African-American Lit, starting out with a display may be a good indicator of whether or not a full shift in cataloging and placement is necessary. If there is a potential need for these specific subject areas, then the display that is created should have material move constantly. If and when you start to see materials fly off the shelf, then it may be time to create a more permanent home for these specific categories. If I were to take park in creating this display, I would most likely create some way of keeping track of the number of items moved so that prior to creating a section I could make a case to the board/library director with statistics to support the need for this specific area.
3. Bookstore System of Classification
The BISAC system of classification has been something that has been gaining recognition as something valid for libraries to use. The BISAC system is pretty much having books separated based off of subject categories. Most bookstores are set up this way and many libraries are considering dropping the Dewey Decimal System and moving to this situation of organization. The whole idea is to become patron centered and reclassifying/thinking of the library in a way in focuses on the patrons and how they would better access materials. In a way pulling the LGBT collection and the African-American collection is just doing a mixed approach of the dewily decimal and BISAC. For this reason, we can see that there is a way that to incorporate more subject sections while also keeping the standard way that has existed in libraries forever.
With all this said, as mentioned above, I don't think separating out LGBT and African-American lit is a bad thing. I believe each situation at each library is a different case and should be treated that way. It's necessary to ask the community what they want and adapt that with what we as libraries function and aspire to be. In the future I can see this BISAC system taking over libraries completely and changing how libraries classify and work with patron needs to transform.