Category Archives: Articles and Information

Diversity in Your Community and Diversity Audits



Open book in front of stacks of booksReposted from Colorado Virtual Library
By Michael Peever

As the population continues to diversify, how can libraries ensure they are meeting community needs?

The Associated Press recently reported that, although whites remain the largest racial group in the US, their share of the population has fallen by 6% over the past decade. According to the 2020 census results, the US population is becoming more diverse, particularly when it comes to the burgeoning Asian and Hispanic populations. There are a few reasons why this is the case. Attitudes about what it even means to be white are changing—more people now identify as multiracial. Also, the 2020 census updated its data collection methodologies to include more options for identifying race.

Diversity will continue to increase with time, and appears to be accelerating. What does this mean for US society, as well as all the institutions and policies that make up our infrastructure? One institution where diversity remains a crucial topic is the public library. Libraries are intended primarily to serve the needs of their communities, and as those communities evolve and diversify, library staff should be responding to those changes through their library’s services, resources, and policies.

Definitions

“Diversity,” like other social justice type terms, is not a straightforward concept that everyone agrees upon. Many different definitions exist depending on who you ask. Diversity is generally used nowadays as a shorthand for referring to minority/marginalized groups – people who are not:

  • white;
  • middle-class;
  • neurotypical;
  • non-disabled;
  • straight; and/or
  • cisgender.

That is, anyone other than the “normalized” majority. (It is worth noting that we should be cautious of lumping “everyone else” together under the banner of “diversity” in that it can contribute to othering those who don’t fit what is normalized.)

The meaning of diversity seems to be deepening as “Western” culture responds to historical moments and pressure for positive change. It might be better to ask, what does diversity entail now? Diversity today is more than just a description of differences in a given population. It implies the acceptance, or even celebration of differences such as gender identity and race/ethnicity. Diversity initiatives often seek to leverage the skills of different types of people, implying that a variety of unique perspectives benefit and strengthen the whole community.

Although it is often mentioned alongside inclusion and equity, the diversity of a population alone does not signify whether marginalized/minority groups experience inclusion or equity. There may be a significant population of immigrants of color in a community, but that population may not feel at all like it belongs or is included in the community. A community or an organization may be diverse, but that doesn’t automatically mean all its people have access to the same quality of life without barriers – in fact, the opposite is often true. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are all interrelated and co-dependent facets of social justice.

Libraries and Library Staff

Libraries exist to improve everyone’s quality of life by providing access to resources. One way a library can help meet the needs of a diverse community is to ensure that its staff represent the community it serves. Guaranteeing that patrons can see themselves represented in the staff is just one way of improving access to library services for all. Librarianship always has been and still remains overwhelmingly white, despite a long standing realization of a lack of diverse representation, not to mention the many diversity initiatives that libraries and associations have attempted in recent decades.

Diversity Audits

Library workers have an obligation to select, maintain, and support access to content on subjects by diverse authors and creators that meets—as closely as possible—the needs, interests, and abilities of all the people the library serves. This means acquiring materials to address popular demand and direct community input, as well as addressing collection gaps and unexpressed information needs. Library workers have a professional and ethical responsibility to be proactively inclusive in collection development and in the provision of interlibrary loan where offered.

– American Library Association

Another way that diversity comes into play in libraries is with the materials themselves. Generally, our collections are not tremendously diverse: they do not always contain works written by people of color, for example, or enough of those works to be truly representational. Responding to this realization, it is becoming increasingly commonplace in libraries, archives, and museums to conduct diversity audits. What is a diversity audit? This is a project undertaken by staff to get a sense of how representational their materials are. Having hard data on the diversity of your collection (or lack thereof) can be really useful for future collection development and is also a means of practicing what we preach when we advocate for access.

For example, you conduct an audit on the racial make-up of the authors in your collection. You have researched your community’s demographics and concluded that the representation of black authors is much lower than it should be. Obviously, this is an area to focus on when buying books in the future. Having the data clearly showing this deficit can be a powerful means of securing the organizational support needed for improving the collection in this manner.

The findings can be a springboard for later projects and attaining long-term leadership buy-in and/or funding. As a side note, your community’s demographics is just one element to consider (since there are clear benefits to more homogeneous communities accessing diverse material), but demographic statistics can nevertheless be a helpful indicator.

Beginning Your Audit

The scope of a diversity audit is self-determined and dependent on numerous factors, including the size of your collection and the resources (time, effort, and funds) that workers are afforded. Gathering data can be a long and laborious process, so if you are dealing with large collections, sampling might be a good first step. Perhaps you have a good-sized collection of children’s books – this would be an excellent place to begin, but you could also focus elsewhere.

Before starting, write down what exactly it is you are trying to find out in the form of a purpose statement. Here you can clearly define your desired outcomes. You might want to ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of auditing this collection?
  • What data am I trying to obtain?
  • How will I use this data?

Then, set some specific data-driven goals. The beauty of conducting your own audit is that you can start however small you like and allow yourself to be as thorough as possible. You could even get started with focusing on just one or two of these sample goals:

  1. Gather data on authors. Note authors who depart from the typical demographics that dominate publishing (white, cisgender men and women).
  2. Identify major themes in books.
  3. Identify books that are written by authors whose identities match their protagonists/subjects.
  4. Identify the representation of major characters (if fiction) or subjects (if nonfiction).
  5. Input the data into an easily retrievable format.
  6. Create a report on the audit, utilizing data visualizations.

Then, for the best part. Once you have identified any weaknesses in your collection, find new books!

Wyoming Libraries Encouraged to Celebrate Library Card Sign-Up Month



There is nothing more empowering than getting your own library card. It gives you access to technology, resources, and services to pursue your passions and dreams. That’s why we are so excited that Library Card Sign-Up Month is here again! The American Library Association (ALA) and National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS) teamed up in 1987 for the very first Library Card Sign-Up Month, “a national campaign to emphasize the importance of library cards to a child’s education and to combat illiteracy.” Visit the American Library Association Archives blog to read more about the campaign’s history.

Share the following graphic and information from ALA with your patrons, family, and friends to promote this special event:

Marley Dias, author, executive producer, and founder of #1000BlackGirlBooks, is joining the American Library Association and libraries nationwide in promoting the power of a library card this September. #1000BlackGirlBooks is an international movement to collect and donate children’s books that feature Black girls as the lead character. Dias launched the #1000BlackGirlBooks drive in November of 2015 with the help of GrassROOTS Community Foundation. The goal was to collect 1,000 books by February 2016 and Dias has collected over 13,000 books to-date. Dias’ #1000BlackGirlBooks resources guide can found on the GrassROOTS Community Foundation website.

As honorary chair, Dias wants to remind the public that signing up for a library card provides access to technology, multimedia content and educational programming that transforms lives and strengthens communities. “A library card provides opportunity for discovery and access to a rich and diverse world. It empowers you to make change and experience new stories,” said Dias.

Visit your library online or in-person to see what’s new and take part in the celebration. Libraries across the country are participating.

Do you have friends who don’t have library cards? Invite them to sign up during September and to check-out GoWYLD.net for instant access to e-Books, e-Audiobooks, magazines, language learning, and more resources for library card holders of all ages.

News in Brief



ABOS Announces Featured Speakers for 2021 Virtual Conference
The Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services (ABOS) will feature Charlie Luh, Ryan Dowd, and Noah Lenstra at their virtual conference in October. Luh serves on the 1000 Books Foundation Board of Directors and co-authored 1000 Books Before Kindergarten. Dowd is the author of The Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness. Lenstra is the director of Let’s Move in Libraries. The conference will take place October 11-15 and registration is open through September 30.

ALA partners with NonProfit Vote for National Voter Registration Day
The American Library Association (ALA) has again joined with NonProfit Vote as a premier partner for National Voter Registration Day 2021. ALA encourages libraries to sign up to participate in this important event, culminating in a nation-wide day of action on September 28, 2021. Many libraries partner with local election agencies and community-based organizations to disseminate information, host events, and promote informed participation in the democratic process.

U.S. Fire Administration Resources for Fire Prevention Week 2021
Fire Prevention Week is a little more than a month away (October 3-9, 2021). The U.S. Fire Administration offers resources that are free to print or order. Registration is not required to look at or download items from the catalog. Consider using these materials if you need a program for early October!

Bureau of Land Management Records at the National Archives
This summer, the Bureau of Land Management celebrated its 75th birthday. It was created on July 16, 1946 when President Harry Truman merged two agencies within the Department of Interior: the General Land Office and the Grazing Service. The National Archives holds historical records from the Bureau of Land Management, including textual records, photographs, maps and charts, as well as records that reflect access to land and acquisition of land throughout much of American history.

Administrator Support Empowers School Librarians as Literacy Leaders
Just published research from the American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) peer-reviewed online journal, School Library Research (SLR), explores how school district administrators can foster information literacy by supporting school librarians. The article, “Enabling School Librarians to Serve as Instructional Leaders of Multiple Literacies,” can be accessed for free at www.ala.org/aasl/slr.

STEMIE Has Resources to Make STEM Inclusive for Children with Disabilities
STEMIE is an organization that develops models for including young children with disabilities in STEM learning. Get resources to discover STEM programs that are accessible, or learn how to tweak your current STEM programs to address the needs of all children. You can also access research on providing supports for young children with disabilities when you are offering STEM programs.

Create a Girls Who Code Club for Free STEM Resources
Girls Who Code Clubs are free programs for 3rd-5th and 6th-12th grade girls and non-binary students to join a sisterhood of supportive peers and role models using computer science to change the world. They can be held in-person or entirely online. Club facilitators are provided with coding curricula across all skill levels, spotlights on inspiring female role models, community-building activities, and comprehensive support and training. No coding experience is required to facilitate a club.

Looking for Freely Usable Video Clips?
Mazwai.com is a resource for free stock footage and moving images. Royalty-free video clips have been hand-picked by their team of video experts for a selection of quality visual content with simple and safe licensing.

ALA Adopts New Code of Ethics Principle on Racial and Social Justice
During the American Library Association (ALA) Annual and Exhibition virtual conference, the ALA Council unanimously adopted a new ninth principle on racial and social justice to the association’s Code of Ethics. It reads: “We affirm the inherent dignity and rights of every person. We work to recognize and dismantle systemic and individual biases; to confront inequity and oppression; to enhance diversity and inclusion; and to advance racial and social justice in our libraries, communities, profession, and associations through awareness, advocacy, education, collaboration, services, and allocation of resources and spaces.”

ALA Announces Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Scorecard
The American Library Association’s (ALA) Committee on Diversity has released its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Scorecard for Library and Information Organizations. Members of the committee created the template to assist administrators and other decision-makers with gathering actionable data for strengthening diversity, equity, and inclusion in their institutions.

Policy Brief: Rural Libraries Have Social Wellbeing Impacts
This new policy brief shows that public libraries make a difference across dimensions of social wellbeing and community thriving. They are the central place and anchor in small towns, facilitating community member belonging, connection, and mutual support. And in so doing, they correlate dramatically to improved quality of life and multi-dimensional social wellbeing.

FCC Opens Second Emergency Connectivity Fund Window



Cartoon illustration: wifi symbol surrounded by people using gadgets and laptops against a cityscape backgroundIn view of outstanding demand and the recent spike in coronavirus cases, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will open a second application filing window for schools and libraries to request funding from the roughly $2 billion remaining in the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) program. The ECF will support connected devices and broadband connections for off-campus use by students, school staff, and library patrons for the current 2021-22 school year.

The second application filing window will open on September 28 and run until October 13. Eligible schools and libraries will be able to apply for financial support for eligible equipment and services received or delivered between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022 for students, school staff and library patrons with unmet needs.

Information is available at EmergencyConnectivityFund.org. For more, review the FAQs, updated as new questions come in, and sign up for Emergency Connectivity Fund Program emails. Applicants and service providers can also contact the Emergency Connectivity Fund CSC with questions at (800) 234-9781 Monday – Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. MT.

Emergency Broadband Benefit Fraud Alert



If you’ve provided information about the Emergency Broadband Benefit to your community, know that the FCC has issued a consumer advisory warning the public about an imposter website. The site was collecting personal information from consumers and falsely claiming to provide free devices and services related to the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program.

Consumers are reminded to only use the official Emergency Broadband Benefit website, GetEmergencyBroadband.org, to enroll in the program. Consumers can also contact a participating provider directly, but they should first verify that a provider is approved to participate in the program by visiting fcc.gov/emergency-broadband-benefit-providers and searching by their state or territory.

The WiFi Freedom USA website falsely claimed that it can provide consumers with free devices and services related to the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program. Consumers may have also seen advertisements for WiFi Freedom USA’s website on social media platforms.

If your patrons provided personal information to WiFi Freedom USA, they should visit IdentityTheft.gov. If they made any payments to WiFi Freedom USA, they should contact their financial institutions to see if there are any remedies available. Individuals can file reports about government imposter fraud with the Federal Trade Commission at Reportfraud.ftc.gov and get information about how to recover any money paid.

Celebrate National Dog Day with your Favorite “Lab” Partner



Dog lying on grass looking up with tongue out and sunglasses photoshopped on. Text reads: "Dog Days of Summer; SciStarter; Science we can do together

National Dog Day is August 26, and SciStarter has some great ways to celebrate. In honor of your furry friend, participate in these simple at-home projects to help researchers learn more about your pup!

Canine Metacognition: Put your dog to the test! With treats and a couple minutes of training, any dog owner can participate in this citizen science project with Fido.

C-BARQ: Dog owners can share information about their furry friend’s behavior and temperament with researchers in the C-BARQ survey.

Family Dog Project: The Family Dog Project is currently the largest dog research group in the world.

Pets Can Do: The University of Lincoln in England is currently recruiting participants for a study on whether dogs are bothered when their humans use mobile phones.

Want more citizen science? Use the Project Finder to search for exciting citizen science projects on any topic you can think of (yes, that includes cats).

Promote Library Card Sign-up Month with Free Tools from ALA



During Library Card Sign-up Month, the American Library Association (ALA) and librarians across the country will remind students, parents, and caregivers that a library card is the most important school supply of all.

Each September, ALA and libraries around the nation celebrate Library Card Sign-up Month. A library card provides access to technology, multimedia content, and educational programming that transforms lives and strengthens communities. Libraries provide people of all ages the opportunity to pursue their dreams and passions.

All libraries can participate and amplify this message using free tools from ALA. They include:

  • Promotional artwork featuring this year’s Library Card Sign-up Honorary Chair, Marley Dias, the 16-year-old author, executive producer of Netflix’s Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices, and founder of #1000BlackGirlBooks.
  •  Audio public service announcements (PSAs) featuring Phil Morehart, host of American Libraries Magazine’s Call Number podcast. These include ready-to-air PSAs for radio stations tagged with the ALA ID lasting 10, 15, 20, and 30 seconds in both the WAV and MP3 formats. They also include customizable PSAs of similar length to which ALA members can add their own ID.
  • Social media graphics in both English and Spanish. Libraries and library lovers are encouraged to share their stories on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using the hashtag #LibraryCardSignUpMonth. ALA’s digital graphics are free for all to use on their websites and social media accounts.
  • Other tools, such as a sample press release, PSA scripts, mini-posters, and yard and window signs are available on the Library Card Sign-up Month web page.

In addition, all libraries are encouraged to ask their patrons how their library empowers them or their community. Just use the hashtag #LibrariesEmpower on Twitter or Instagram from September 1-22. Entries can also be submitted by posting as a comment or wall post on the I Love Libraries Facebook page. The creator of one randomly selected post will receive a $100 Visa gift card and an ALA Graphics The Child Poster. Additionally, three second-place winners will receive an ALA Graphics The Child Poster.

Since 1987, Library Card Sign-up Month has been held each September to mark the beginning of the school year. During the month, the American Library Association and libraries unite together in a national effort to ensure every child signs up for their own library card. For more information, visit www.ala.org/conferencesevents/celebrationweeks/card/.

ALA Partnership to Boost COVID-19 Information



Logo reads "Communities for Immunity, Museums and Libraries as Trusted Community Partners"From the American Library Association

The American Library Association (ALA) is partnering with Communities for Immunity, a collaboration among libraries and museums to boost COVID-19 information and vaccine confidence in communities across the United States. Communities for Immunity provides funding to libraries, museums, science centers, and other cultural institutions to enhance vaccine confidence at the local level.

Building on the many ways libraries and museums have supported their communities during the pandemic, the partnership will help these institutions create and deliver evidence-driven materials and develop resources, programs, and approaches specifically designed to engage diverse audiences in vaccine confidence.

Libraries and museums will leverage resources and research available on vaccines and variants disseminated by Institute of Museum and Library Services’ (IMLS) research partnership with OCLC and Battelle, the Reopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums (REALM) projectCommunities for Immunity will further build on existing resources and efforts, including the Smithsonian Institution’s Vaccines & US: Cultural Organizations for Community Health initiative, as well efforts from the CDC, Department of Health and Human Services, and more.

Supported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and IMLS, other Communities for Immunity collaborators include the Association of Science and Technology Centers, American Alliance of Museums and the Network of the National Library of Medicine. In addition to ALA, library organizations joining in the effort include the Association for Rural and Small Libraries; the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums; and the Urban Libraries Council. The national coalition of partners are creating a community of practice to develop and refine vaccine education resources that will be shared with the broader library and museum community.

News in Brief



United for Libraries Virtual Conference Registration Open
Program descriptions and registration rates for 2021 United for Libraries Virtual: Trustees, Friends, and Foundations are now available. This interactive three-day virtual event — taking place August 17-19 — will feature expert speakers on current topics facing library Trustees, Friends, Foundations, and staff who work with them.

ARSL Conference Early Bird Registration Ends August 17
Register for the 2021 Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL) no later than August 17 for reduced Early Bird rates. The conference will take place from October 20-23 in Reno/Sparks, Nevada with the theme, “The Biggest Little Library Conference.” A virtual registration option is also available.

ALA Accepting Applications for 2022 Class of Emerging Leaders
The American Library Association (ALA) is now accepting applications for the 2022 class of Emerging Leaders (EL). The deadline to apply is August 30, 2021. The ALA EL program is a leadership development program which enables newer library workers from across the country and Canada to participate in problem-solving work groups, network with peers, gain an inside look into ALA structure, and have an opportunity to serve the profession in a leadership capacity.

September 11, 2001: The Day That Changed the World
September 11, 2001: The Day That Changed the World is a downloadable educational exhibition that presents the history of 9/11, its origins, and its ongoing implications. It explores the consequences of terrorism on individual lives and communities at the local, national, and international levels, and encourages critical thinking about the legacies of 9/11. The exhibition recounts the events of September 11, 2001, through the personal stories of those who witnessed and survived the attacks.

A Sampling of Web Resources on Native American Health
Network of the National Library of Medicine Region 4 staffers found some helpful resources and tips for engaging American Indian and Alaska Native community members at the 10th Annual National Native Harm Reduction Summit last month. The meeting organized by the National Indian Health Board brought together tribal and allied health care and behavioral health providers as well as social service providers, public health professionals, people who use drugs or are in recovery, and others.

Free Mini-Conference on October 21: Libraries as Community Anchors
The third Library 2.021 mini-conference: “Libraries as Community Anchors,” will be held online (and for free) on Thursday, October 21, 2021. Libraries are increasingly addressing challenges associated with digital equity, access, and inclusion, as well as issues of security and privacy. For many years, community members have looked to public libraries to provide baseline, public, computer and internet access. In this way, libraries exist as important Community Anchor Institutions.

Your Library can Sign up as a Partner for National Voter Registration Day
This year, National Voter Registration Day is on September 28, 2021 and libraries in the United States are encouraged to take part in helping their community members sign up to vote. National Voter Registration Day is a nonpartisan civic holiday celebrating our democracy. First observed in 2012, it has quickly gained momentum ever since. Nearly 4.5 million voters have registered to vote on the holiday to date.

Kick off the Olympics with the U.S. National Archives



Susan Rapp, the daughter of an Army colonel, is among the participants at the start of a race at the 1984 Summer Olympics. She won a silver medal for her performance in the 200 meter breaststroke. See the full record from the U.S. National Archives.

The Summer Olympics officially begin on July 23, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. Time to lace up those running shoes, tune up the bicycle, and go for that perfect 10!

Join the U.S. National Archives this week as they share a variety of records held at the National Archives related to historic Olympic Games and participants.