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Progressive LGBTQ reference: coming out in the 21st century

Bharat Mehra (School of Information Sciences, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA)
Donna Braquet (University of Tennessee Libraries, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA)

Reference Services Review

ISSN: 0090-7324

Article publication date: 16 August 2011




The purpose of this paper is to present an exploratory practice‐based framework that identifies strategic goals, objectives, and activities for each of the five areas of modern‐day reference, namely – access to electronic resources, user instruction, library commons, outreach liaison, and virtual reference – with a focus on meeting the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning (LGBTQ) individuals during the coming out process.


The paper highlights findings for progressive reference services in the twenty‐first century based on qualitative studies and action research conducted by two openly gay library and information science professionals in the University of Tennessee‐Knoxville during the period 2005‐2011.


Findings reveal elements of the proposed framework geared towards meeting the needs of LGBTQ patrons during the five phases of coming out – self‐recognition, sharing with other LGBTQ people, telling close friends/family, positive self‐identification, and integration of LGBTQ identity.


Minimal research has been done involving reference services for LGBTQ patrons. This paper's original value is in its extended vision of traditional reference that focused solely on information provision to a more encompassing conceptualization and implementation that designs, delivers, and assesses reference services in a community engagement context to develop fair and equitable services for LGBTQ patrons.



Mehra, B. and Braquet, D. (2011), "Progressive LGBTQ reference: coming out in the 21st century", Reference Services Review, Vol. 39 No. 3, pp. 401-422.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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