At La Porte County Public Library, we embrace and celebrate the diverse communities we serve and hope that all customers will see themselves represented authentically in the materials we offer. In an effort to ensure LPCPL is providing content that not only reflects our community’s diversity but also offers a different perspective than our own, we are conducting a diversity audit of the library collection.
What exactly is a diversity audit?
During a diversity audit, titles are evaluated to determine gender, ethnicity, and orientation of the main characters. One area of particular interest is books written by authors from underrepresented groups about their own experiences or perspectives — this is known as “#OwnVoices” literature, a term coined by Corinne Duyvis in 2015. We already have many titles in our collection that are considered #OwnVoices books. Popular examples include The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, George by Alex Gino, and There, There by Tommy Orange. To make these titles easier for you to find, we have tagged hundreds of items with the “Own Voice” label, so all you have to do is type that term into the search bar in our catalog to bring up #OwnVoices titles in all formats.
How do you do a diversity audit?
Staff will be looking at each book on the shelf to research the author and to analyze the characteristics of the characters. The data gathered will be compiled for later evaluation, following criteria developed by Karen Jensen, youth librarian and creator of The Teen Librarian Toolbox, a popular Library Journal blog. Beginning with Youth Fiction, where diverse perspectives matter most, staff will look at the data collected to see what percentage of the collection represents each group. This information will enable us to see the populations that are being underrepresented and will give us a direction in which to act.
Our goal is to provide a well-balanced collection that can be a mirror, reflecting a reader’s own stories and a window into the stories of others, so we can experience each others’ unique perspectives through reading.