Romance writers’ use of archives

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The relationship between popular romance-a frequently marginalized and disdained genre-and the library and archival field has attracted varying degrees of attention. Yet the question of whether writers of popular romance use archives when researching their stories has been little studied. This article draws on a survey of 200 romance writers to show that, far more than many archivists may have thought, romance writers are a constituency, and quite often a passionate one. Nearly half of the respondents indicated that they have used archives for researching their works, with more using libraries. Romance writers enjoy working in archives, appreciate the level of detail that archival research enables them to bring to their work, and can feel inspired and even awed by what they find there. But like other “non-traditional” users, they also report feeling at times frustrated by their inability to locate materials because of inadequate guidance, limitations in travel, and a lack of digitized collections. Reflecting on these and other findings from the survey, the article offers an examination of potential benefits of the use of archives by romance writers and suggests further steps for research and outreach. It also considers the impact that archivists’ perceptions of researchers and topics as “serious” versus “frivolous” may have on interactions with users.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-73
Number of pages29
Issue number81
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Library and Information Sciences

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