This is a guest post by Stacey Goldade, head of the Statewide Catalog Development Department at the North Dakota State Library.
For patrons to want to come to your library, you’re going to have to have something that appeals to them. That means a wide range of topics, formats, genres, stuff for all ages, etc., which means making sure you have enough materials about diverse kinds of people. I know you may say that practically all your population is white and of Scandinavian descent, but that’s changing and even if it was true, the whole point of a library is to learn about new things. So even though I’m a white woman, one of the most interesting books I’ve ever read was Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin, which let me see what being a black man in the south in the 1950s was like. It’s very unlikely you have anyone in your community that is an astronaut or a pro-football player, but you have books about space and sports right? Because people still want to learn about those topics even if that’s not their profession or their background. People want to learn about other people too, so make sure you are providing them with books about all kinds of people.
Are you celebrating Dia? More formally known as El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children’s Day/Book Day), Dia is a celebration held on April 30 that “emphasizes the importance of literacy for children of all linguistic and cultural backgrounds.”
Recently on the blog we’ve highlighted the importance of diversity in your collection, and Dia is a great way to celebrate diversity at your library.
To help you celebrate, ALA has put together a publicity toolkit, with templates for press releases and PSAs, as well as talking points. There are also downloadable program materials, including event posters, a resource guide, book lists, and coloring and activity sheets. The resource guide provides ideas for programs, outreach, and partnerships, as well as best practices. There is also a Dia Family Book Club Toolkit.
If you are hosting an event at your library, register your event so people will be able to locate Dia events in their area.
Do you celebrate Dia at your library? How else do you celebrate literacy and diversity at your library? Share your stories in the comments.
Have you ever thought to yourself “Diverse books don’t circulate in my library because my community isn’t actually diverse”? While you may feel your community is not diverse, a lack of diversity may not be the reason why diverse titles aren’t circulating. It may be that you as the librarian need to make your patrons aware of these titles and promote why your patrons might enjoy them. Have you ever chosen not to purchase books because you think they are too “diverse” to circulate in your library? They definitely won’t circulate if they are not on the shelves! Remember that books don’t have to be about diversity, they can simply be diverse.
Once you’ve purchased them, what can you do in your library to help get books circulating?
- You probably already do book displays, but do they highlight diversity in your collection? Try using an infographic to help people select a good match. There’s no need to make the display only about diversity, simply incorporate diversity into displays you already have planned.
- If you do a program such as Blind Date with a Book, be sure to include some diverse choices. The whole idea of a Blind Date program is to get patrons to try something new that they might not usually read.
- Diversity in YA, a blog which highlights “young adult books about all kinds of diversity,” has a guide for how to encourage diversity in your collection. One of the suggestions is “recommend diversity.” What’s one primary reason books are often popular? Because people are talking about them! Kids in particular want to read what everyone else is reading, so talking about books will go a long way toward getting them to circulate. Even adult patrons come in asking for books they heard about on TV or the radio. Once you have the momentum of word of mouth, you will see increased circulation. What are some ways to talk about books?
- Mention titles in your weekly article in the newspaper
- Mention titles on Facebook, Pinterest, etc.
- Mention titles at book club meetings
- Work with the school librarian to cross-promote
- If you’ve never tried book trailers, try featuring them on your library website or Facebook page. Not all books have them, but you can find them on YouTube, or you can try the website of the author or the publisher.
- You can’t read everything, so familiarize yourself with websites that can help you advise readers on what books they might like. Also, the State Library offers access to NoveList (under Books & Literature), another great resource for connecting readers and books.
- If you don’t usually do book talks, read up on how to do a book talk and try it with some titles you’ve enjoyed.
In response to the controversy over the lack of diversity among the author-speakers at the very first Book Con (check out Twitter #WeNeedDiverseBooks), held in conjunction with this year’s BEA Convention, National Public Radio has compiled a list of recommended titles for young readers that feature protagonists of color. This is a great resource to help kids select some great reads for summer. Here’s the list of titles – see the full article for brief book descriptions.
- The Boy Who Didn’t Believe in Spring by Lucille Clifton
- Bravo, Chico Canta! by Pat Mora and Libby Martinez
- Bringing Asha Home by Uma Krishnaswami
- Brush of the Gods by Lenore Look
- The Christmas Coat: Memories of My Sioux Childhood by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve
- Come on, Rain! by Karen Hesse
- Corduroy by Don Freeman
- Dumpling Soup by Jama Kim Rattigan
- The Fortune-Tellers by Lloyd Alexander
- The Girl Who Loved Horses by Paul Goble
- Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say
- The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster
- How My Family Came to Be: Daddy, Papa and Me by Andrew Aldrich
- I’m in Charge of Celebrations by Byrd Baylor
- Life Doesn’t Frighten Me by Maya Angelou
- Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match by Monica Brown
- My Name is Yoon by Helen Recorvits
- Nino Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales
- Ruby’s Wish by Shirin Yim Bridges
- The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
- Tomas and the Library Lady by Pat Mora
- The Storyteller’s Candle by Lucia Gonzalez
- Umbrella by Taro Yashima
- When the Shadbush Blooms by Carla Messinger and Suzan Katz
- Yo! Yes? by Chris Raschka
The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) Round Table and Social Responsibilities Round Table (SRRT) of the American Library Association recently announced the 2013 Rainbow List. The Rainbow List “presents an annual bibliography of quality books with significant and authentic GLBTQ content, which are recommended for people from birth through eighteen years of age.”
If you don’t have all the titles on this list, you can always check the ODIN catalog and request them through ILL. (Don’t know how to ILL? Attend a webinar to learn!)
For additional GLBTQ recommendations and reviews:
How are you celebrating Black History Month at your library?
Every day in February, The Brown Bookshelf will be highlighting a different author or illustrator of color. The project, called 28 Days Later, is a celebration of children’s literature, and it began as a way “to bring awareness to creative artists producing stories that feature characters of color.” It’s a great way to learn about new titles to add to your collection.
For more authors and illustrators, you can also view the list of those featured in 2012. The Brown Bookshelf also has a page of links to other sites that discuss diversity in children’s literature. Do you have a favorite resource you use to learn about books featuring diversity? Share it with us in the comments!