Does this sound familiar: I want to do a diversity audit, I know I need to do one, but I…
- Don’t have time
- Don’t know where to start
- Am overwhelmed by the thousands and thousands of materials in my YA collection
- Identify with most of the dominate identities/cultures and I don’t know everything I should, I’ll miss things and make mistakes
If this sounds familiar, take 10-15 minutes to read Measuring Diversity in the Collection by Annabelle Mortensen. I just did and learned…
1. Start small: Identify one or two small, but high profile areas and just audit those materials. For example, only audit the books used in teen book club and videos used in teen movie nights last year.
2. Set a time limit: If the identity of the characters and authors isn’t clear, set a time limit for researching that information. The library featured in “Measuring Diversity in the Collection” set a time limit of 7-8 minutes. If they didn’t find the information they needed in 7-8 minutes, they marked the item as “unknown.”
3. Don’t recreate the wheel: Use the same tracking categories as the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, Measuring Diversity in the Collection (which is adapted from CCBC), or this School Library Journal blog post.
4. Use an easier tool: Create and add data via a Google Form rather than creating and working in a spreadsheet.
5. Embrace discomfort: “It’s awkward and a bit unsettling to be actively looking for details on someone’s race or gender, not to mention that the entire exercise was naturally subjective, susceptible to user bias and errors… Nonetheless, we reasoned that a flawed audit would still be better than no audit at all.”
6. Set diversity goals: After you view the results of your diversity audit, set a few goals. “Each library will have different criteria for its diversity goals, whether they are tied to local demographics, strategic initiatives, or other considerations.” Measuring Diversity in the Collection has a few ideas about what your library can do to accomplish its goals.
If you want more detailed information on diversity audits, you might read the Complete YA Collection Diversity Audit series by Karen Jensen on the School Library Journal Blog.