If you look at the mission statement of almost any library, you will find a sentence about equal access to information for all. Most libraries genuinely want to provide equal access. To truly live up to that mission and ensure that we are providing the best customer service possible to our community, we must make certain that every library visitor can see themselves reflected in the collection. Your library must be intentional about including authors and titles of under-represented identities in all your collection promotions, not just on special occasions. The celebration of inclusion can happen all year round. And it’s what makes people feel welcome and seen by your library.

How do you get started? It’s easy!

1. Make inclusive reading recommendations in your newsletters. Stillwater Public Library’s ShelfLife newsletter includes themed book lists. And Waukee Public Library included book recommendations for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers in their Growing Readers newsletter.

2. Help those dealing with a long waitlist by suggesting inclusive read-alikes, as Arlington Public Library did in this While you wait for this popular read book flyer (see it on Facebook). You’ll be keeping your community of readers engaged with your library while also gently persuading them to read outside their comfort zone.

celebrating inclusion whileyouwait image

3. Pique readers’ interest in inclusive items by suggesting titles that share a common story element. Story elements are the aspects of a book that catch your attention, like character, pacing, and tone. Those story elements are found in all books and are often the connection that leads a reader to a book, even if they don’t think they can relate to the main characters. For example, Harrison Public Library used the story elements of the theme when compiling this inclusive Enemies to Lovers widget slide (see it on Instagram).

celebrating inclusion enemiestolovers image

4. Search in NoveList Plus to find inclusive titles for your promotions. A good place to start is the Advanced Search page. NoveList has three different author characteristic limiters here — gender, nationality, and cultural identity. Try different limiters to find authors that reflect a wider range of your community.

And, what if you’re running short on time to put together reading recommendations? Libraries that subscribe to LibraryAware get the NextReads newsletter service. These curated, themed newsletters feature recommendations linked to your library's catalog and go out automatically to interested readers. The newsletters reflect an inclusive collection development ethic with titles reflecting authentic perspectives of authors from a variety of races, cultures, nationalities, genders, sexual orientations, abilities, and religions.

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Caleigh Haworth is an Engagement Consultant for NoveList. She is currently reading Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson.