Library’s Diversity Audit Uncovers Needs

BHM Summit library

Summit Middle School library displays a wide range of books on Black History Month and Black culture.

As the COVID-19 pandemic closed schools in March, Summit Middle School teacher librarian Kelly McAlister found herself with extra time – and an extra quiet library – on her hands. She began an audit of all the books in the Summit library collection, first starting with fiction.

“It’s a professional goal of mine to do the library audit and when the pandemic hit, I had the time to get started,” McAlister said. “My goal was to audit books for authors and characters of color and/or LGBTQ orientation. It’s taken quite a bit of time, but it’s also been a very eye-opening project.”

After working her way through the fiction section, McAlister tallied her findings to realize approximately seven percent of books in the Summit fiction collection met her diversity criteria. She said it indicates work in diversity and equity is needed in all aspects of the school world, including library materials. Going forward, she said it’s her goal to have ten percent of the fiction section feature diverse authors and/or characters. She will also begin auditing the non-fiction books in the near future.

“I’m excited to build the collection up, hear from students what they might want to see, and overall, offer more choice in reading materials.”

As part of Black History Month, McAlister has a number of fiction and non-fiction books on display students can check out. She enjoys helping students find new authors and topics to read about during this historical month and on a year-round basis.

Over the summer, McAlister plans to help other teacher librarians in the district begin diversity audits.