by Ann Lehue, MSIS, Senior Manager, Collection Development
Books offer children and adults mirrors to see themselves in what they read, and windows to see others in what they read. Many of us became librarians because of the power of books; some of us survived because of the power of books. It’s natural, then, that librarians and library workers would embrace the importance of access to diverse points of view in their libraries. According to School Library Journal, almost 95% of librarians agree that having a diverse collection is either important or very important.
At the same time, however, the publishing industry acknowledges a lack of diverse voices, editors, and leaders, and standard metadata rarely identifies those things that make a title “diverse”. As a result, diversity audits of a collection are typically manual, time-consuming, and tedious. Workers stand in a section with a clipboard and log each title, checking off boxes labelled for each “diversity category”, such as Black Interest, LGBTQIA+, Jewish Interest, Neurodiversity, etc. This could take weeks or months or years, depending on library size and comprehensiveness, how long something stays checked out, and the accuracy of inventory status in your catalog. Sometimes (hopefully only once in a lifetime) a pandemic hits in the middle of the audit and throws everything off as items sit in quarantine or staff are locked away at home or running items to curbside on a skeleton crew.
What if you could email your titles to Ingram, and within two weeks (faster than some COVID tests), you received eye-catching reporting on the diversity of your collection for your library board or funding agency, along with lists of the most popular diverse titles in public libraries that you are missing? Currently in testing, iCurate inClusive goes live Spring 2021, and this is exactly how it works, and how fast it works.
With iCurate inClusive, your library purchases a one-time assessment of the diversity of your holdings. The purchase options include Adult Diversity Audit, Teen Diversity Audit, Children’s Diversity Audit, or a bundle of all three, and each age range includes the following list/reporting splits:
Easy Reader Fiction
Easy Reader Nonfiction
Juvenile Graphic Novels
Each audit comes with comprehensive reports and charts showing the diversity in each category, suitable for presentation to your library board and other stakeholders. The charts and reports will come as PDFs for simplicity and as editable Excel lists for those who want to track changes and produce new reports for side-by-side comparison of progress. Your purchase also includes lists (with the same subject split as noted above) of diverse titles that are most popular in public libraries. We will mark your holdings and the diversity codes on your list. This will facilitate filling in identified gaps so that you can take immediate action if desired. Reports and lists will be delivered within two weeks of submitting your holdings to Ingram.
Diversity Categories currently include the following and are based on interest and content rather than author identification, which is not always readily available, accurate, or discernable.
We recognize the desire for #ownvoices content and feature #ownvoices lists on ipage, and we hope to include it in a future release. Because it is a relatively recent category, we need time and help from publishers to be able to retrospectively apply metadata to titles going back decades for it to present an accurate picture.
Ingram’s Collection Development librarians already include value-added data in our applications, and we have been working overtime this winter entering our diversity metadata in all subject areas and on older titles. We have also ingested out-of-print holdings from the largest libraries in the country to make sure our reporting is as accurate and thorough as possible, even on older collections. This will also make our title/author matching more complete if these titles come back into print in the future, because we will already have the value-added information in the database.
Diversity is at the forefront of Collection Development and in the US, but publishing is not diverse enough for things to “just work out.” The Ingram Collection Development team has had requests to help with diverse collections, but handling these requests on an individual basis makes it very time-consuming and expensive. By standardizing the categories, reports, and subjects, we can offer this service at a reduced rate that more libraries can afford.
Like most of our services, you can choose from Adult, Children’s, or Teen, or any combination thereof. The one-time fee is $1,500 per age group, or you can save by bundling to get all three age groups for $4,200.
The iCurate inClusive service helps libraries build a more diverse collection more quickly by saving library staff time and tedious effort. Libraries can use the reports for marketing, strategic planning, and staff goal setting. The charts can be shared widely in newsletters, presented to the board, or can serve as an internal picture of where you are and where you hope to go.
Are you interested in iCurate inClusive, coming April 2021?