Today’s topic is Strategies for Creating and Working with Diverse Collections and is facilitated by Debra Bucher of Vassar College.
What has been your experience with diverse collections?
One public librarian noted that after securing a grant to make a large change at once in their children’s and teen’s collections, many patrons positively noted the difference.
One librarian purchases African American Street Literature. This is a genre in which stories are set in urban America and feature Black or Latinx characters and communities and involve drugs, violence, and/or sex in the plots. It can also be known as urban lit, urban fiction, hip-hop lit or or fiction, ghetto lit, or gangsta lit.
How do you find and select diverse materials?
- By looking up monthly themes such as LGBTQ month in June, Black History month in February.
- Ingram and Baker and Taylor have themed selection lists.
- Brodart has a database.
- GOBI has subject lists but you must have an account to see them.
- Net Galley highlights new titles and sends digital galleys.
- Overdrive has topical lists for patrons and a dedicated “Diverse Reading” section in its Resource Center for content purchasers.
- NoveList and Syndetics both have resources.
What are some challenges you’ve faced developing these collections?
- Donations can be unwanted or inappropriate. Be sure to have a concise, comprehensive policy on donations that makes clear that donations may not be selected for the collection, may be disposed of at any time.
- Diverse book collections and programs can lead to push back from community members. “What happened to my graphic novel section?!”
How are you dealing with books about very difficult topics?
- An academic librarian uses trigger warnings. They also pair content indicators with resources for getting help.
- Books that deal with difficult subjects can be situated next to books that have resources for dealing with those issues.
- Bookmarks with resources can be inserted into books at checkout.
- Themed displays can combine books with difficult topics with helpful resources.
- In the case of the Columbia County’s circulating addiction collection, helpful resources (pamphlets, etc.) are circulated along with the books.
- The Healing Library offers toolkits to help families dealing with tough situations. They include recommended books, discussion guides, activities, and ways to help others in the community.
How do you handle readers’ advisory for your new/updated collections?
- Promoting new collections works well on social media or in newsletters.
- Other ideas include staff picks and other features highlighting various parts of the collection.
How do you weed your collection?
- Paperbacks are especially vulnerable to deteriorate with use but generally the same methods are used as for hardbacks.
- Some paperbacks are difficult to replace, i.e., some science fiction.
- Use the MUSTIE method:
- Misleading or factually inaccurate
- Ugly – worn and damaged
- Superseded by better material
- Trivial – without valuable merit
- Irrelevant to the community
- Elsewhere – easily available in other places
Next meeting: July 14th at 1 pm in person at Southeastern headquarters in Highland
Next topic suggestions:
- How do your organize your collection?
- How can you “curb your enthusiasm” for topics you are personally interested in?
- How are displays being changed to reflect more diverse collections?