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Tips for Building a Culturally Responsive Library Collection

Effective library resources for Black youth nurture their resolve and enable these youth to reconcile their multiple identities and reimagine their place in the world. Such resources provide counterstories and are relevant, meaningful, developmentally appropriate, and enabling.

The following tips can serve as a starting point for librarians to identify and collect such resources.

  • Work with youth, parents, teachers, and administrators to select rich and enabling resources.

  • Write publishers to demand diverse texts.

  • Be intentional in recommending texts to Black youth.

  • Ensure that collection development policy includes criteria for evaluating and selecting culturally relevant and enabling texts.

  • Feature culturally relevant materials in library displays, booktalks, and recommended reading lists.

  • Invest in technology (such as laptops, e-readers, and tablets) that youth can check out.

  • For school libraries, allow materials to be checked out over school breaks and in the summer.

  • Think beyond print and digital resources to include human resources in the community, for example civic and business leaders, artists, writers, etc.

  • Provide resources that facilitate student expression and cultivation of voice: blogging platforms, video and audio recording and editing software, word-processing tools, etc.

 

For tips about effective library space, programming, instruction, staff, and administration please see Libraries, Literacy, and African American Youth: Research & Practice by Sandra Hughes-Hassell, Pauletta Bracy, and Casey H. Rawson (Libraries Unlimited, 2017).

About the Authors

Sandra Hughes-Hassell, PhD, is professor at the School of Information & Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the recipient of the 2013 and 2014 Virginia Hamilton Essay Award Citation for her essays on the topic of African American youth, literacy instruction, and text choices for services to multicultural populations.

Casey Rawson, PhD, is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she earned a PhD in 2016 and an MSLS in 2011 with a concentration in school library media. She also holds an MAT in middle grades education from the University of Louisville and is a former sixth- and seventh-grade science teacher. Her research interests include teacher-librarian collaboration in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) content areas, diversity and equity in youth services librarianship, and portrayals of scientists in children's literature. Her articles include “Are All Lists Created Equal? Diversity in Award-Winning and Bestselling Young Adult Fiction,” which received the 2012 YALSA Writing Award; and “Rethinking the Texts We Use in Literacy Instruction with Adolescent African American Males,” written with Sandra Hughes-Hassell, which received a 2013 Virginia Hamilton Essay Award Honor Citation.

Select Citation Style:
MLA
Hughes-Hassell, Sandra, and Casey H. Rawson. "Services for Black Youth: Tips for Building a Culturally Responsive Library Collection ." School Library Connection, May 2017, schoollibraryconnection.com/Home/Display/2077545?topicCenterId=1955261&learningModuleId=2071169&curriculumModuleId=0.
Chicago
Hughes-Hassell, Sandra, and Casey H. Rawson. "Services for Black Youth: Tips for Building a Culturally Responsive Library Collection ." School Library Connection, May 2017. http://schoollibraryconnection.com/Home/Display/2077545?topicCenterId=1955261&learningModuleId=2071169&curriculumModuleId=0.
APA
Hughes-Hassell, S., & Rawson, C. H. (2017, May). Services for black youth: Tips for building a culturally responsive library collection . School Library Connection. Retrieved from http://schoollibraryconnection.com/Home/Display/2077545?topicCenterId=1955261&learningModuleId=2071169&curriculumModuleId=0
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Entry ID: 2077545