In the spring of 2019, while The Library was developing its 2020-2022 Strategic Plan, our Collection Management Team began a diversity audit of The Library’s collection to identify areas that would benefit from a broader selection of authors, topics, and viewpoints.
What exactly is a diversity audit? A diversity audit looks at an individual collection and finds areas that need to be better developed to reflect our community and the world we live in. Through an audit, we examine the diversity – most commonly ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and disability – represented within it.
Why are diversity audits important? Knowledge promotes understanding inside our diverse communities. Stories inspire and empower the reader to embrace differences and similarities. Experiencing the perspectives of people like you – and unlike you – helps you better understand yourself and others.
Stories and informational resources provide a safe space to explore new topics and concepts, so it’s vital that our collections provide as many opportunities to explore as possible.
How is The Library completing this audit? Our audit began with our “Classic Core Collection,” which is composed of fiction and non-fiction titles by historic, recent, and current authors that are deemed important to have in a collection.
Titles such as “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel García Márquez, “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu, “Walden” by Henry David Thoreau, “Hunger” by Roxane Gay, or “A Lesson Before Dying” by Ernest Gaines would be found in this collection.
As we audit segments of the collection, we examine the types of titles we currently have, research each author, and list the various topics represented in those works. This identifies gaps in collections, such as influential titles that are missing, or where there are too few authors from a particular group or representing a particular viewpoint.
As we move through the process, community members are integral to providing ideas for choosing new materials to improve a collection. We invite you to make suggestions using the “Suggest a Purchase” form.
When will the diversity audit be completed? Ideally, never. Conducting a diversity audit is a continual process. With nearly 400,000 items to review, total assessment becomes an ongoing process. Once a collection is evaluated, we shift to auditing new purchases for it and removing ones no longer relevant or useful (known as weeding). This results in a continuous process of renewal that responds to the changing needs of our community.