Project READY: Free, asynchronous curriculum about equity and access for diverse youth

Project READY: Reimagining Equity & Access for Diverse Youth–A Free Online Professional Development Curriculum

Project READY was created by the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill’s School of Information and Library Sciences and a team of educators, library staff, and youth. In the about page on the website, the Project READY staff explain their goals and the purpose of this curriculum:

  • “…it is not solely the responsibility or burden of communities of color or Indigenous communities to call attention to the issues of systemic racism, oppression, and inequity and to do the work of addressing them.”
  • “…this curriculum will contribute to the growing body of social justice-oriented thought and practice in the fields of library science and education.”
  • “…most importantly, [they] hope it will help library staff develop responsive and equitable library programs with youth of color and Indigenous youth.”

Work through the 27 modules at your own pace. They are designed to be worked through sequentially.  If you have already done a lot of equity and inclusion work specifically related to race and racism, you may want to skim or skip some of the foundational modules.

Some of the modules are:

  • Module 6: Indigeneity and Colonialism
  • Module 8: Cultural Competence & Cultural Humility
  • Module 10: Unpacking Whiteness
  • Module 11: Confronting Colorblindness and Neutrality
  • Module 13: Allies & Antiracism
  • Module 15: (In)Equity in Libraries
  • Module 17: Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy
  • Module 20: Talking About Race with Youth
  • Module 21: Assessing Your Current Practice
  • Module 24: Transforming Library Collections

Project READY was created by the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill’s School of Information and Library Sciences and supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Wake County Public School System, and North Carolina Central University.


Diversity Audits

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.

Combatting Hate via Your Library

The logo of YALSA, the Young Adult Library Services AssociationYALSA has resources to help you support teens, especially those who may be feeling the brunt of current events. YALSA also has resources to help you promote empathy and understanding among teens. Check out these wiki pages:

Don’t forget that anyone can add content to these pages, so if you know of a good resource, please add it!