As it happens, my library does purchase novels for recreational reading, so I was able to help the folks who asked. But apart from our Bestsellers (brand new hardcover fiction) and our Read and Relax collection (new paperbacks), we don't have a "fiction section." All of the other novels are mixed in with other works of literature and shelved by Library of Congress call number in the stacks. However, most academic libraries don't have budget lines for popular fiction (and ours is fairly small), so I'm not sure where this expectation comes from. Do students expect all types of libraries to have the same types of books? I'm honestly curious. When you go to a university library, do you think you'll find a section for popular reading? Would you hope to find one there?
I'm still only 2/3 done with the Rutherfurd, so the mention of Margaret George above is all the historical fiction content this post has for now.