The Library’s Guide to Sexual and Reproductive Health Information

ALA Editions. Feb. 2023. 152p. ISBN 9780838938652. pap. $49.99. PRO MEDIA
Alvarez (Embedded Business Librarianship for the Public Librarian) argues that libraries offer an essential service by providing access to sexual/reproductive health collections, community resources, and programming. Over eight chapters, she describes how current events regarding conversion therapy, gender-affirming care, abortion, and LGBTQIA+ rights have increased the need for free access. Discussions incorporate definitions, library service tenets, and reasons for offering these materials. Chapters include sidebars, summaries, reflection questions, and endnotes, plus programming suggestions and recommended resources. Alvarez’s consideration of LGBTQIA+ needs in library settings is particularly valuable. Extending the discussion to include suggestions on managing efforts at censorship and external attempts to control collection development decisions would have improved this title’s usefulness. Alvarez only lightly addresses the value of comprehensive library policies (collection development, challenges, weeding) and overlooks offering advice on interacting with parents, governing authorities, and those who believe such information should not be publicly available. Emphasis on digital resources may present a barrier for some patrons.
VERDICT A helpful resource for library board members and LIS students needing basic information, but collection development and public service staff may find that they need more information in today’s highly politicized climate.
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