Resources found in the school library should support curricula and reflect the cultures and identities of the community. School districts within the CA BOCES region may not consider themselves diverse if only considering ethnicities, nationalities, and languages spoken. New to school libraries are diversity audits.
Auditing resources is done purposefully for ensuring that the needs and interests of the school community are being represented, which is aided by an analysis of the community. An analysis may include reviewing the district’s demographics and learning about community groups and common interests; interviewing the school nurse, guidance counselor, and social worker for understanding the needs of students and families; and using surveys to gain feedback from teachers and students. Feedback helps determine who is or is not utilizing the library and why. A diversity audit should include environmental factors as well.
A clean room with comfortable seating is an inviting space. However, temperature, food allergies, pollutants, population density, sound, light, and even parasites (lice, fleas, bedbugs), can be a deterrence to visitors. Any deficiency noted on the audit can then be addressed as a new goal for the library. Some goals can be achieved relatively quickly while others may require additional funds and time. Creating awareness is a necessary first step. Another aspect of the audit is access to resources.
Resources, whether digital or print, not only support curricula but should reflect a variety of interests and identities and consideration must be given to how resources are accessed. For example, are library users with physical disabilities able to independently access the library and its resources? How might a hearing or vision impaired student find the library a welcoming space? How might a student who does not speak English know how to search, locate, and checkout resources? An analysis of the community helps the librarian determine what resources to purchase and set potential goals and objectives for the library.
Conducting a diversity audit is relatively easy to do once the community analysis has been completed. Below is a list of diverse topics for consideration:
Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC)
Adoption and foster care
People who have experienced homelessness or unstable living accommodations
Socio economic diversity
The Library 510 CoSer offers print and digital resources that support many of the topics noted above. If you are interested in a diversity audit, or would like to know more about vendor products for the library, please contact me at Cecelia_Fuoco@caboces.org.
By: Cece Fuoco, CA BOCES Learning Resources
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