Library collections should be seen as resources that support all patrons and the communities that they serve. Young patrons especially need a collection that represents character diversity and subjects that promotes equality for all races, as well as people with disabilities, religions, and members of the LGBTQ community.
Children are at a critical time of their development and a collection that touches on all subjects is necessary. As communities grow to become more diverse, it is important for children to see characters that are like them, as this will help them with their social and identity development (Naidoo, 2014).
Collections that feature diversity are also important in homogenous communities. “Especially in places where kids don’t often have the chance to meet and interact with children who are different from them, books can offer a special opportunity to expose children to culture and lives that are different from their own,” (Johnson, 2015, para 5). This allows young patrons to engage in nonjudgmental conversations with librarians and their peers and grow into accepting adults who are cognizant of the myriad of experiences people around the world have.
Johnson states that “children’s librarians are the community’s gatekeepers to the wider world”, (Johnson, 2015, para 1). It is the responsibility of libraries to fairly represent the diversity of people and ideas in our society. Since children are greatly influenced by the stories they come into contact with (Naidoo, 2014), it is integral that libraries help nurture a multicultural understanding of the world for them.
Bird, E. (2017). Outlandish: Braving new perspectives through books in translation has never been more important. School Library Journal, April 2017, www.slj.com
Johnson, A. (2015). Diversity on My Mind: Reflecting the world in which we live in.
Naidoo, J. C. (2014). The importance of diversity in library programs and material collections for children. Association for Library Service to Children, American Library Association. Available at http://www.ala.org/alsc/sites/ala.org.alsc/files/content/ALSCwhitepaper_importance%20of%20diversity_with%20graphics_FINAL.pdf