Auditing Diversity in Library Collections

Tuesday, August 17, 2021, 1:00 pm Eastern

In 2018, the Cedar Rapids Public Library piloted a diversity audit of the young adult fiction collection to determine a baseline of representation throughout the collection. The team conducted the audit again in 2019 and saw a significant increase in representation in line with the diversity of the community served by the library. Since that time, a focused assessment on the diverse representation of the collection has continued while also conducting nationwide conversations and gathering various methodologies in approaching this arduous but necessary work.

Learning Outcomes

Attendees will:

Learn about a broad overview of the lack of diverse representation in (children's) literature that showcases the need for continued evaluation and an increase in the publishing of marginalized authors, characters, and stories

Learn what diversity audits in library settings are and examples of how to work can be adapted depending on the resources, time, and staff available for the project

Learn how the Cedar Rapids Public Library (Cedar Rapids, IA) was able to expand the work of a diversity audit across six areas of representation (Race/Ethnicity, Religion, Mental Health, Physical Health, LGBTQIA+, and Economic Welfare) that allowed staff to make data-driven purchasing decisions and build a collection that is now nationally recognized


Sarah Voels
Cedar Rapids Public Library

Sarah Voels (she/her) is the Community Engagement Librarian at the Cedar Rapids Public Library following five years as a Materials Librarian. In her previous role, she was responsible for the collection development of the youth and young adult collections of their two-branch library. In that time, she conducted a three-year study of diversity in the collection which forms the basis of her forthcoming title "Auditing Diversity in Library Collections" (ABC-CLIO Libraries Unlimited). She has presented at several conferences including the 2020 Public Library Association Annual Conference.

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