Teen Diversity Audit By: Library Staff November 6, 2020

Over the summer, Kayla, conducted a diversity audit on our teen collection.

What is a diversity audit?

An inventory of a collection to determine the amount of diversity within the collection. It’s a way of analyzing collection data to make sure that we include a wide variety of points of view, experiences and representations within a collection. Our goal is to provide a well-balanced collection that can be both a mirror (reflect a reader’s experience) and a window (so readers can experience different experiences and points of view).

Why is a diversity audit crucial step in building a truly representative collection?

No matter how well we think we are doing, our unconscious biases get in the way. We need concrete data to be sure our collection development is intentional. The benefits of doing a diversity collection audit are plentiful.

How was the audit structured?
This audit was structured from a library patron’s point of view. What diversity is visible to someone who walks into the library? Each book in the teen section was analyzed for diversity based on the cover, book summary, and subject headings in the catalog. Diversity was defined following under the categories of Economic Welfare, LGBTQIA+, Mental Health, Physical Health, Race/Ethnicity, and Religion. Both the main and minor characters were examined and recorded on a Google Form. All that data was imported into a spreadsheet and analyzed into the following report.

The audit found that 30% of the teen collection have some level of diversity. Of that 13% or 369 books are from economic welfare, 4% or 106 books contain LGBTQIA+, 6% or 185 books are from mental health, 4% or 105 books contain physical health, 9% or 266 books from race/ethnicity, and 2% or 54 books contain religion. The next page shows the breakdown of those numbers by subcategory and by genre if one is interested. It is also important to remember the importance of intersectionality. Most people identify as more than one thing, which should be represented in our literature. For example, a black woman may identify as being bisexual, because we are all complex beings who are more than one thing and all more than our labels. Those stories deserve to be told and read.

Some fun numbers:

2600 books audited
Over 200 hours spent
Took almost 15 weeks

Now what?
This is an ongoing process as books are added to and weeded from the teen collection. These results will be used to find holes, discover sections to grow, and locate areas to cut back on ordering books for our collection. This allows us to be intentional in purchasing diverse items that both reflect our community of North Liberty and the wider world. I’m currently working on setting up a diversity audit of the Juvenile section of the library. As this is twice the size of the teen collection, it will require more time and energy, but I’m looking forward to comparing the two collections together and seeing how we are doing in terms of diversity in our Juvenile collection. This is not the end of the process, but rather continuing our efforts towards truly representing and supporting our entire community.