Many of us have talked at length about making sure our collections are more diverse, that they actually represent there world at large and not just our profession. This is a huge problem and concern. As I said here when I helped to organize a panel on this topic:
Let’s lay out the facts: 80% of librarians are white women. Does your collection reflect your community or does it look more like you? What about the material in your programming and reader’s advisory practice? Join ARRT as we grapple with solutions to this touchy subject. Our panel of experts will share straight talk, real world experiences, and practical strategies for diversifying your library in meaningful, authentic ways.At that program in June, Annabelle and Mimosa talked about the Diversity Audit of their collections at Skokie Public Library. In our area they are leading this conversation and trying to teach others how to do it.
A "Diversity Audit" of your collections is something every library should do, but I realize the idea of taking all of your books, by collection, and trying to assess how diverse they are is a daunting concept.
That’s where Karen Jensen from School Library Journal’s Teen Librarian Toolbox comes in to help you. As Part of the SLJ/LJ online course- Diversity & Cultural Competency Training: Collections & RA she presented on doing a "Diversity Audit."
But to help everyone out there, not just the ones who did the full course, on the Teen Librarian Toolbox blog she had three posts explaining the What, Why, and How on this topic. You can read her guide in three easy posts:
- Doing a YA Collection Diversity Audit: Understanding Your Local Community (Part 1)
- Doing a YA Collection Diversity Audit: The How To (Part 2)
- Doing a YA Collection Diversity Audit: Resources and Sources (Part 3)
Even though her example is for YA, this plan of action works for any collection.
Today, in this Call to Action, I am imploring you to read her three posts and see for yourself HOW to do a “Diversity Audit.” Make it part of your 2018 goals. It is way past time we all do this. No one is trying to shame you. We are all trying to be honest with the problems inherent in the publishing world, problems that trickle down to our collections. Ignoring it is not an option.
There is no longer any denying it-- every collection is too white, too Christian, and too male. As Skokie has been proclaiming across Chicagoland- they are one of the most diverse communities in America and they are not even close to representing diverse voices. We can all do better.
So now that we have the knowledge. let’s make a plan to fix the problem. Libraries can move much faster than the publishers. Also, if we buy more diverse books, our patrons will find them, read them, and like them. Then we will want to buy more. Then, the publishers will HAVE to publish more diverse voices.
We have a lot of power here, but it all needs to start with a “Diversity Audit.” Karen has graciously given you the tools to get started. Get a sense of what you are up against at your library. I promise, all of the work will mean better collections that have higher circulation. No more excuses people. Get to work.
For past Call to Action posts, click here.