During the “Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: Conducting a Diversity Audit” education session at the seventh annual Children’s Institute in Pittsburgh, bookseller attendees learned how to assess the inclusiveness of their inventory by conducting a diversity audit.
The panelists began by explaining why conducting a diversity audit is an essential practice for booksellers. In 2018, Fabian shared, a report by the U.S. Census Bureau wrote that by 2044, “whites are expected to fall below 50 percent of the U.S. population in terms of its racial makeup…By the year 2021, the age group population under 20 will become minority white. And for the first time in American history, more minority race babies, as we define race now in terms of minority versus majority, were born than white babies in a single year.”
“I’m sure we’ve all heard people in the industry, publishing and bookselling-side, say, well, those books — meaning books about people with different aspects of diversity — don’t sell in my community or they don’t represent my community or no one buys them,” said Fabian. “I’m not really sure what they mean by that. Do they mean people of color or people with aspects of diversity don’t exist? Or that we don’t want to read books with [those things] in them? Because the truth is that our world and our country is becoming increasingly multicultural and increasingly multiracial, so we need the books that reflect that, both to understand other people’s experiences and create empathy but to also see that reflected on our shelves.”
Said Boon, We’ve got to recognize that selection is a type of privilege. We are still gatekeepers. We are still the ones presenting the collection for people to take advantage of. Just like in libraries, if people walk into bookstores and they see something there, they think it has our stamp of approval, that these are ‘good’ books. It’s our responsibility to recognize our own biases and our own predilections in what we’re selecting.
Read on for strategies and the the ideal steps for conducting a diversity audit on BookWeb.