Taking Action: Collections Diversity & Inclusion

My library’s leadership team has been talking a lot about equity, diversity and inclusion. With these discussions, I’ve made it one of my goals this year to lead a closer look at the library’s collection to see how well we are meeting the needs and interests of our patrons at the same time as reflecting the diversity of our community, and to see where we can and need to improve.

Last year, members of our Readers’ Services staff and I took Library Journal’s Diversity and Cultural Competency Training online course, which helped in preparing us for this initiative. Sessions covered what a diverse and inclusive collection is, how to do a diversity audit of the collection, and how to recognize stereotypes, tropes and cultural appropriation. They’re offering a similar course this year, Equity in Action: Taking Your Library’s Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives to the Next Level.

Now, we’re taking that action. This is a broad initiative that affects a number of departments, so that means, Yay! New Task Force! With a representation of department coordinators, back end and front line staff, we’ll be able to fine tune the focus of the initiative.

Here’s the charge we’re starting with:

  1. To gauge how diverse and inclusive our collections are currently
  2. To review possible problematic collections/access points (i.e. labeling, call numbers, subject headings in the catalog) and develop improvement plans (involving affected departments/staff)
  3. Provide (some) direction for student interns who will be working with the collections to help with this initiative (i.e. performing a diversity audit, reviewing diverse book lists for purchase suggestions)

We’ll have our first meeting later this month to decide on exact initial direction and focus. Whether we’ll do a complete collection diversity audit, adopt new cataloging practices with radical subject headings, or ditch outdated classification systems all together is yet to be seen, but I’ll plan to share our progress here. Stay tuned!


The “Wak’ó Mujeres Phụ nữ Women Mural” was recently completed on the Lawrence Public Library’s south wall by local artists to illuminate and honor the stories of women and girls of color in the community

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