Doctoral candidate E.E. Lawrence will present at the 2019 Popular Culture Association National Conference, which will be held April 17-20 in Washington, D.C. Lawrence will give the talk, "Should the Public Library Promote Popular Fiction?," during the Libraries, Archives & Museum area's "Collections" session.
According to Lawrence, discord exists between the modern public library's mission to advance democratic ideals and its practice of promoting reading materials for patron entertainment. In their talk, they explore the view that promoting popular fiction subverts the library's purpose. Lawrence considers several possible theoretical justifications for promoting popular fiction: popular fiction entices individuals to use the library, has informational value, and can augment individual and societal literacy levels.
"An alternative justification exists, one that draws on Louise Rosenblatt's transactional theory of reading," said Lawrence. "In the view I ultimately endorse, popular fiction—and, more precisely, genuine aesthetic experience—serves as a resource for the development of virtues necessary to democratic citizenship."
Lawrence received a BA in comparative literature from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and an MLS from the University of Maryland, College Park. Prior to beginning the doctoral program at Illinois, they worked in reference and web services at the National Library of Medicine. Their primary research interests include library and information ethics, readers and reading, and aesthetics (especially taste and recommendation). Lawrence recently defended their dissertation, "Reading for Democratic Citizenship: A New Model for Readers' Advisory."