Library aims to measure diversity in collection

OFF THE SHELF: News from the Madison College Libraries

James Castrillo, Collection Development Librarian

During the month of February, you can always find the Madison College Libraries highlighting its various resources that celebrate African American History Month. For centuries, many libraries have aimed to be the collectors and gatekeepers of the various facets of knowledge. The library at a technical college, such as ours, has not afforded such a lofty task, but focuses on a narrower goal based on who we serve. The libraries here have always aimed to “build and maintain a library collection… to support the curriculum and the mission of the college throughout the district.” 
Issues tied to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion are equally important to both the college and to libraries. One of the American Libraries Association (ALA), the largest professional organization for libraries, central document is known as The Library Bill of Rights. Since the early 1980s this bill has central components of a diverse collection stating: 
“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.”
Building a diverse collection at the library is often discussed as an important issue, the means of measuring this have varied wildly.
New for spring semester, the Madison College Libraries are measuring and tracking the diversity of our collection. When ordering new titles for the library each month, we have set a minimum target of 20-25% to include works written by diverse authors or about diverse topics. These materials are selected by librarians who order books for the district. Our definition of diverse authors includes historically marginalized groups such as people of color, Latinx, and LBTQ+. Books that cover diverse experiences and topics include but are not limited to: social justice issues; race; women; gender; sexuality; disabilities; ethnic and cultural differences; languages; socioeconomic and class; age and generational differences. We intend to be proactive and intentional in diversifying the libraries’ collections for the betterment of all our users.
Our goal is to strengthen our collection to represent the growing diversity and life experiences of the student body that we serve at Madison College which aligns with the college’s Equity and Inclusion Plan. We invite our students and staff to make recommendations to help build our diverse collection.