For the past two years, our K-12 librarians have conducted a “Diversity Audit” of their collections. The librarians began their work during the 2017-18 school year, working with Dr. Tokeya Graham, an English/Philosophy professor at MCC, who specializes in diversity. As they began to develop a sense of how to assess their own collections, they also drew upon the expertise of Cheryl Kreutter, an education professor at SUNY Geneseo, who specializes in children’s literature. Collaboratively, the librarians developed a spreadsheet and a process of reviewing each title in their library for multiple characteristics related to diversity including, but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, culture, religion, neurodiversity, and gender identity of the author, main characters, and supporting characters in the book, as well as looking at the theme and setting of the book. This is a labor-intensive process that requires the librarians to take each book off the shelf, review it for each of the identified characteristics, and then add the data for each title to their shared spreadsheet. In total, 24,891 titles are included in this audit.
While the audit itself is still in process, many benefits have already emerged from this project. Our librarians are more aware of titles within their collections that represent both shared and unique experiences of our students and staff members. As classroom teachers seek to expose students to more diverse titles and authors, our librarians are able to guide that process by selecting and showcasing particular titles. In several schools, the librarians have created displays of books representing an array of diversity, enticing students to find books that can serve as mirrors or windows into their own, or someone else’s experiences. As librarians work through their annual process of pulling and adding to their collections, they are able to do so with a more deliberate focus on maintaining a collection in which all children are able to see themselves. By documenting their audit in a shared spreadsheet, the librarians are able to see the collections across all nine buildings, allowing them to serve as resources for each other and the students throughout our District.
Click here to watch a video to learn how the library audit was accomplished.