By Sherise Kimura, on behalf of the Gleeson Library Strategic Planning Collection Diversity Task Force (Sherise Kimura and Elisa Rodrigues, co-facilitators; Marina Cuneo, John Hawk, Michelle Lam, and Gina Murrell, members), with assistance from Justine Withers.
Building diverse and equitable collections is a core value of librarianship. In Gleeson Library’s recent strategic planning, we focused on aligning our values with our practice. To meet its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusive Excellence strategic goal, the Library set the following objective: To review and enhance collections and services to better reflect diversity, equity, and historically underrepresented groups.
In September 2019, the Strategic Planning Collection Diversity Task Force embarked on a one-year project to design a plan and process to acquire award-winning, diverse books in order to expand and enrich the Library’s general collection. While Gleeson librarians select many award winners as part of their ongoing collection development duties, the task force worked with the Library’s book vendor, GOBI, to enable the automatic receipt of winning titles.
The task force evaluated and selected over 100 diversity awards, including the Hurston/Wright Foundation Legacy Awards, Black Caucus of the American Library Association Literary Awards, Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association Literature Awards, Stonewall Book Awards, and Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards. In our work, task force members evaluated several years of past award-winning titles to ensure titles met our selection criteria of supporting the curriculum, the teaching and research needs of students and faculty, and, above all, our goal of building a more diverse and equitable collection.
We aimed to select titles and awards representing all literary genres that value and celebrate diverse writers, characters, stories, and perspectives, especially those that are historically underrepresented, misrepresented, marginalized, or erased. Our definition of diversity encompassed identities and experiences that include, but are not limited to, race, ethnicity, gender identity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, ability, culture, language, geographic origin, level of education, religion, age, and size.
Award-winning books will be available in online and print formats. In honor of February’s Black History Month, we highlight the following recently received titles:
Exiles of Eden by Ladan Osman
Winner of the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation Legacy Award for Poetry, 2020
Solitary: Unbroken by Four Decades in Solitary Confinement. My Story of Transformation and Hope by Albert Woodfox with Leslie George
A Tall History of Sugar by Curdella Forbes
Winner of the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation Legacy Award for Fiction, 2020
Winner of the Frederick Douglass Book Prize, 2020
The Black Shoals: Offshore Formations of Black and Native Studies by Tiffany Lethabo King
Winner of the Lora Romero First Book Publication Prize, 2020
To recommend other diversity book awards for the Library to consider, contact Erika Johnson, Associate Dean for Technical Services.