SCENARIO:

Imagine you are working in a public library as a children’s librarian. You are setting up a display of books with diverse characters and a parent starts talking to you about your choices. This person tells you: “In this library/neighborhood, we don’t have many people of color. I don’t think we need this display/these books here.”  Do you agree? Why or why not?

1)  What would you tell this person?  Prepare a minimum of three “talking points” that summarize your position and provide citations backing up your claims. You can list your arguments in bullet points. They do not need to be long, just a short two-three sentence reason on each bullet, explaining the need to include those books in your collection (or not.)  Include references to articles, websites, books, etc. [You can use any standard citation style.]

RESPONSE:

I absolutely do not agree with the patron’s assertion; however, I have worked in customer service long enough to understand the importance of acknowledging feedback of all kinds. It is even more important to present diversity in areas that are lacking it –especially in regard to children. It is vital for children to understand that not everybody is exactly the same and that’s okay! The world is a beautiful place – rich with diverse cultures and belief systems – exposing children early on gives them the opportunity to learn, to grow, to become well-rounded adults, and to make important life choices and develop their own opinions and belief systems later on in life. Exposing children to diverse situations, lifestyles, and backgrounds is not telling them what to think or believe but giving them options and nurturing intelligent, thoughtful children. In an area lacking diversity, it is especially necessary to provide resources for those children who may feel different.

I would respond to a patron who expressed these concerns with the following:

  • Acknowledge and show appreciation for sharing their concern: “Thank you for expressing your concern. We appreciate your feedback (warm smile)”
  • Politely explain why I’ve chosen these particular titles. “I’ve chosen these titles because it’s important to cultivate awareness, understanding, and respect for different cultures! These books help children develop diverse perspectives. (Iwai, 2015)” Then I would explain, “We also feel it’s important to provide resources for the ‘few children of color’ that are living in the area.”
  • Inquire about the patron’s interests in order to direct them to other displays or events that better meet their needs. “We have a number of other displays here as well! Would you like me to show you where they are?”

Iwai, Yuko. “Using Multicultural Children’s Literature To Teach Diverse Perspectives.” Kappa Delta Pi Record 51.2 (2015): 81- 86.ERIC. Web. 4 Sept. 2015.

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