Programming to Promote Diversity

The American Library Association recognizes the critical need for access to library and information resources, services, and technologies by all people, especially those who may experience language or literacy-related barriers; economic distress; cultural or social isolation; physical or attitudinal barriers; racism; discrimination on the basis of appearance, ethnicity, immigrant status, religious background, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression; or barriers to equal education, employment, and housing. ALA and its affiliated organizations have a number of initiatives that support libraries in providing and developing programming that promotes diversity. 

Underrepresented patrons may experience several issues which limit their full, beneficial use of the library. Many of these issues may stem from a lack of representation in the services, staff, and collections of libraries. For many people, having never seen their perspectives represented in library staff and services, the library may be an unknown element in their day-to-day lives. 

Libraries can work to bring the library to these communities through outreach and partnership efforts at cultural events, through community-based organizations, or through local media.

Libraries can help eliminate barriers to access by:

  • Providing collections and programs which accurately and authentically reflect the cultural perspectives of diverse communities.

  • Promoting library services through communication channels and community events organized by people of color and intersectionalities. 

  • Developing and providing services which address the unique needs specific communities. 

  • Investing in recruitment strategies that build a diverse staff so that all people see themselves represented in the administration, management, and delivery of library services.

Events and Celebrations

  • El día de los niños/El día de los libros
    The Association for Library Services to Children and its partners provide resources for Día - a celebration every day of children, families, and reading that culminates yearly on April 30 - which emphasizes the importance of advocating literacy for children of all linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

  • Programming Librarian
    ALA's Public Programs Office online resource center provides programming ideas for celebrating cultural heritage months.

ALA Book Award Winners

Librarians may also wish to create programming around the following ALA Book Award Winners:

  • Coretta Scott King Book Awards
    Given to African American authors and illustrator for outstanding inspirational and educational contributions, the Coretta Scott King Book Award titles promote understanding and appreciation of the culture of all peoples and their contribution to the realization of the American dream of a pluralistic society.
  • Pura Belpré Award
    The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.
  • Schneider Family Book Award
    The Schneider Family Book Awards honor an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.
  • Stonewall Book Awards
    The Stonewall Book Awards are the first and most enduring award for LGBTQ+ books.

Resources