Collection development - picture of books

Diversity Collection Development

Thanksgiving represents the start of the holiday season. I particularly like working post Thanksgiving due to the large number of college students that show up telling me that their family is driving them crazy. There is also a high probability of pumpkin pie in the break room. Thanksgiving also makes me think of holiday books, especially ones for the kids.

As we head into the holiday season, it is a good time to dig deep into your holiday book collection. Instead of looking to see that holidays are represented, take a minute to really evaluate the collection, especially the older titles. Our library has been making a a concerted effort to make sure we are inclusive and respectful of both religions and cultures. Particularly helpful for collection development of non-Christian religious holidays and celebrations is Diverse Bookfinder.

Be mindful of how non-Christians or indigenous people are represented in books.  Thanksgiving holiday books can be quite problematic in native representation – not to mention factually inaccurate. If you want some examples, check out the category “Holiday collection” on our site for examples.

Although I don’t do kiddie collection development (adults are SOOOO much easier!) anymore, I thought I would share a few resources for both youth and adults. (Holly cobbled this together based on some workshops and recommendations.) Of course, this is only to scratch the surface and gives you a starting point. I am sure there are more resources out there and this is not to be considered a comprehensive list. If anyone has any to share, by all means say so in the comments!

I will also point out that we have some sample collection development policies if you are looking for language on DEI. I also want to point you to the ALA discussion on Diversity in Collections.

thanksgiving inside flap

The “first” Thanksgiving

This little book is really more of a mild tirade about communism and eroding of traditional American ideals. Thanksgiving, in particular. There was an old school history lesson about the pilgrims, settlement of Plymouth, settlement of Jamestown, and President Lincoln’s proclamation of a “day of thanksgiving”.  This recitation of questionable “facts” was an attempt to get at the real controversy: The first Thanksgiving. Naturally, the native Americans are barely secondary players in this story.

In my opinion, this book was a waste of time and paper. I made a cursory attempt to find out if this author had significance beyond this little book. I didn’t find too much about the author other than a couple of other titles about the FBI and the Nixon administration.

Is this worth keeping? For a public library, probably not, unless the collection is super deep. University collections would probably be okay with something like this, depending on collection parameters or research interests.

I will keep to our family traditions of sweatpants, watching the Detroit Lions lose, and eating too much — just like the pilgrims.

looking, working, living terrific 24 hours a day

24/7 Power Looks

Looking, Working, Living Terrific 24 Hours A Day
Cho and Lueders
1982

This title sounds exhausting. At my age, I think showing up for work with my hair combed is an accomplishment worthy of my next performance review. (Holly take note!) This was published at the time the mantra of working women was “I can do it all!” (See this commercial for Enjoli perfume, and you will get the idea.) Those of you old enough to remember this, get ready to cringe.

This book combines looking good with career/personal success advice. I will cop to buying into this type of dressing for success looks. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the budget to sustain this look and it really didn’t make me powerful in my job. (Naturally, I moved to librarianship so I could have the real money and power!<<sarcasm)

helping the handicapped teenager mature 1971

Handicapped Teens

Helping the Handicapped Teenager Mature
Ayrault
1971

When this book was published, handicapped students were invisible to mainstream students. Student that were different, were routinely shuffled into “special ed” regardless of ability or need. When I graduated college in 1982, mainstreaming students was a new concept. Before I graduated with a degree in education, a course was quickly thrown together for students discussing this concept. It was eye opening for me. Very few distinctions were made in a child’s ability. Regardless of physical or mental capabilities, everyone was lumped together under an umbrella of special ed and were virtually invisible.

between parent and teenager by Haim Ginott

Communicate with your teen

Between Parent and Teenager
Ginott
1969

Dr. Haim Ginott is considered to be an expert on parent child communications. Many of his theories are still in practice today. From a library perspective, this is an important book, particularly in libraries supporting research in parenting, child psychology, education, and other similar programs. Public libraries might have to think twice about retaining this book. Although important, the experience and culture is reflective of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Situations, language, and discussions of sexuality and gender, are reflective of that time and might not be a first choice for today’s parent.

To weed or not to weed, that is the question. (Apologies to the Bard.) This decision should probably be decided by circulation and space available. Smaller libraries might have to let this one go, but larger and deeper collections can probably retain.

How to solve your decorating problems with Barabara Taylor Bradford

Solve Your Decorating Problems

How to solve your decorating problems
Bradford
1976

Barbara Taylor Bradford has shown up on our site for her nonfiction decorating books. (I am so glad she turned to fiction.) For the time, these were pretty decent books, although I just about die a thousand deaths with this example.

Depending on the library’s mission, I don’t think one has to keep everything simply because the author is “significant”. No doubt that Bradford is significant. Hanging on to older titles because the author is “important” is not enough of a reason to keep something clearly outdated. Larger or specialty libraries can do this, but for the average public library, this is probably outside the scope of the library mission. Always remember your core audience and mission.

sex harassment and gender biasr

Sex Harassment 101

Coping With
Sexual Harassment and Gender Bias
Shaw
1998

Another old one from the “Coping with…” series. I just cringe at the covers of some of these books. (See this one and this one.) I think that jamming sexual harassment in with gender bias is asking too much of small book. I think they should be separate books.

This subject matter is important for teens. A book from the late 1990s isn’t going to be helpful in 2022. Aside from the creepy cover art, the content is probably on par for the late 1990s. We could argue about how much has NOT changed in over 20 years, but there has been way more dialogue on this topic than in the 1990s. Weed it and don’t look back.

decorating with crochet

Retro Crochet

Decorating with Crochet
Halliday
1975

There are some lovely decorating tips in this book for all of you looking for a “retro” look for your home. Particularly fetching is the wall hanging of a grandfather clock and the homage to macrame wall hanging on the last picture below.

As a mediocre to poor knitter/crocheter, I can appreciate the skill set, but I just cringe at these projects. It is a waste of yarn. I am also old enough to remember 1970s decor, so I can also tell you that this would have been awful in the 1970s. (At least in my opinion.)