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Friday, March 17, 2017

We Need Diverse Books Pilot Project for Mississippi Public Libraries

The State Friends of Mississippi Libraries Inc. is pleased to announce the pilot project Diverse Books in Mississippi Public Libraries. As public libraries across Mississippi continue to suffer from the effects of budget cuts, they have to make tough choices about exactly which books they can afford to add to their collections. Do you buy the standard authors who have been bestsellers for years? Or do you expand your collection into the exciting pool of diverse books that have hit the market in the last 10-15 years? The first option means that books will be checked out on name recognition alone, but patrons aren't necessarily expanding their horizons. They might even be in a book rut! Worse, some patrons never find books that speak to them personally, those great books that click and fan the hunger for more great books. The second option means that the bestsellers everyone expects to see in the library wouldn't be there. With budgets stretched so thin, it's a balancing act to add books by authors and on subjects people are accustomed to and to include books that speak to Mississippi's diverse population. This project intends to bridge the gap.

In partnership with the Center for the Book at the Mississippi Library Commission, the State Friends will provide a collection of 10 books that highlight diversity to four Mississippi public libraries with supporting Friends of the Library groups. Supporting Friends of the Library groups must commit to hosting at least one program or initiative geared towards promoting diversity for their local library. Awarded applicants will be able to select ten titles from curated lists provided by the We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) organization and Mississippi Library Commission staff. (To see the list from WNDB, click here. To see the list from MLC staff, click here.)

We Need Diverse Books is a grassroots organization created to address the lack of diverse, non-majority narratives in children’s literature. WNDB is committed to the ideal that embracing diversity will lead to acceptance, empathy, and ultimately, equality. They recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities. Their mission is to put more books featuring diverse characters into the hands of all children.

If you have any questions, please contact Lacy Ellinwood.

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