Equity in the Library
The United States today is an increasingly diverse society encompassing youth from a broad spectrum of social, cultural, and economic backgrounds. Consider these facts:
- in the 2014-2015 school year youth of color are projected to make up the majority of students attending American public schools1
- almost one of every four children in the United State under age 18 is foreign-born or resides with at least one foreign-born parent2
- approximately 9.1% of students attending America’s schools are English Language Learners3
- approximately 10% of the general youth population in the United States identifies as LGBTQ+4
- almost 16% of same-sex households report having at least one child5
- almost half of the nation’s young children grow up in low-income households6
- one in 45 youth experience homelessness in America each year7
Providing equitable access to library services for youth from such diverse backgrounds may seem like a daunting task at times; yet it is imperative. As Barbara Stripling’s 2013-2014 ALA Presidential Libraries Change Lives initiative demonstrated, libraries change lives:
- Libraries empower the individual.
- Libraries support literacy and lifelong learning.
- Libraries strengthen families.
- Libraries are the great equalizer.
- Libraries build communities.
- Libraries protect the right to know.
- Libraries help us to better understand each other.
Youth services librarians working in school and public libraries across the U.S. have the skills and passion needed to develop library services that change the lives of today’s diverse youth. Through self-examination, dialogue, reflection, and hard work, youth services librarians can develop equitable library services and programs that meet the needs of all youth. We have the power to do this. Let’s embrace the social justice roots of librarianship and get to work!
This website is designed to serve as a starting place. It contains resources, research, presentations, and much more. Please join the conversation. Follow us at@and @BespokeLib. Use the hashtag #libequity.
“When some are excluded or lack the knowledge, income, equipment, or training necessary to participate fully in public discourse, they must overcome obstacles to access in order to ensure fairness. In other words, fairness also demands remedies to redress historic injustices that have prevented or diminished access in the first place: for, just as there can be no fairness without equality, there can be none without justice.” (American Library Association, 2005)