As you may know, I began a diversity audit on my fiction collection earlier this year. I have since completed the audit. It was an incredible experience that I’m so glad I put the time into. After painstakingly researching every single book in my fiction collection, I now have the data I need in order to move forward with establishing our collection as truly diverse and representative of our global community. Its going to take a lot of hard work, but I can’t wait to keep working at this until our collection is everything I know it can be.
I have presented about my process and my experience to my Admin, and to a few library associations. I am including a few screenshots from the presentation here for anyone who would like to learn a little more about how I did this audit.
I blogged throughout my experience, you can find each post here:
Thank you so much for sharing your diversity audit how-to guide and results! I had never heard of the term before, but I certainly agree that it is an essential task, and I commend you for all the hard work you put in! I was impressed to read that your students were a driving factor in this audit, when you mentioned they “expected and needed [you] to do better regarding representation and antiracism practice.” I was wondering if you shared the results of your audit with the student body, or discussed it with them? Or have they noticed a difference in the library? It seems like it could possibly open up some really interesting conversations!
Thank you! I’ve been transparent with my community throughout the entire audit process, from letting them know I would be doing it and why, giving them updates throughout the process on what data was emerging, letting them know how the data was influencing my purchasing and weeding choices, etc. I did this using our monthly newsletters and our social media feeds. I put together a presentation of the whole thing which I sent out to everyone too, so they definitely know about it. Since most of them are still in virtual learning environment I havent been able to see the level of circulation as I would in an ormal year so I can’t speak yet to any impact it may have on that, but I have noticed that way more students now feel comfortable asking me for specific types of characters and content when I help them with readers advisory. Students never used to ask for things like “I’d like a black character” or “I’m looking something featuring a Muslim character” but ever since I advertised so heavily about the Diversity Audit, I get a lot more specific requests, which has been pretty cool. The community has been very receptive as well, a lot of parents, teachers, admin, and board members follow our instagram and have seen the diversity audit info and I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback from them about it. Defenitely opens the door to great and important conversations!
There is a real problem with the methodology here, and a lot of assumptions made.
Noting Arthur Clarke as straight, for example, when even a cursory google search or a read through his wikipedia article would show you that he was a gay man. This really undermines all your data.
How you can even begin to label people as ‘neutotypical’ when most people don’t publicise such is beyond me… and ones who do publicly talk about this topic (e.g. Stephen King with depression) you have not bothered to note. You can’t look at a white man and automatically assume he is straight & NT. Hemingway committed suicide for god’s sake. What does it take for a man to be diverse in your ranking system? No wonder your figures for diversity came out so low.
Yep, doing an audit is messy and imperfect. I’m definitely not saying my data is 100% accurate, there’s simply no way it could be because not every aspect of every authors identity is publicly stated, nor should be expected to be! The goal of auditing, for be, was to try to gather some information that would help give me a sense of the general amount & types of representation. I agree with your comments, I’m under no illusions that I have correctly gathered every facet of every author & character. That’s why this is an ongoing process and certainly not something I would purport to be a scientific methodology, just an imperfect process. It’s also a process that I’m changing as I go and as I learn more. For example, although I initially used them, I did actually stop using the categories for “white, straight, cis, neurotypical” male & female because I realized I couldn’t make that assumption. Those categories no longer exist in my data because I did eventually realize I was wrongly assuming a default of those identities in some cases. I tried to explain the changes I made throughout in each separate blog post but I may not have clarified that well.
I’m positive that the data I collected isn’t 100% accurate and I’m ok with that because the purpose of the data for me is not to try to quantify every author or characters every identity facet but rather to collect information that in general will help me identify types of representation to focus my collection development efforts upon each year.
I hope I was able to clarify a bit. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!
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