We’ve all been galvanized by the twitter campaign #weneeddiversebooks and a lot of us have added tweets, but to make an impact we need to make an economic dent. The main challenge to diverse books is the publisher’s excuse that they don’t sell. Now this reason rings false to my ears when we understand that most books aren’t bestsellers, nor are they expected to be. The bottom line is that an agent and editor liked it and submitted it and fought for it. Without agents and editors that relate to the writers with diverse stories then those with the power to publish will never see them. From there we have to hope and pray that the publisher doesn’t have some internal bias, aversion or blindness afforded by privilege and push it further. Once the embattled story has made it through that process it is up to the market to respond. That is where librarians come in.
We have to make a commitment to these books. We have to seek them out and feature them prominently. We have budgets, we have purchasing power and that means we have a voice. One way you can ensure that you get the titles featuring people of color, feminist heroines, and LGBTQ protagonists is to cancel your subscriptions. That’s right, let Junior Library Guild and Follett know that while you’ll still be purchasing, you won’t be relying on them to make selections for you because they don’t provide enough diverse titles. And to make an impact you have to tell them WHY you’re cancelling. They are guaranteed dollars with the subscription and they won’t want to let you go. Next year they’ll be putting the pressure on publishers to provide them with diverse titles.
The hard part from there is actually finding the titles you want to put on your shelves. This is where the internet comes in. There are a number of places you can go. Here are a few of my faves:
You can also join a listserv to connect with other librarians who are like minded. They are always good to tap for recommendations:
- email@example.com ACRL Racial & Ethnic Diversity Committee
- firstname.lastname@example.org ASCLA Tribal Librarians Interest Group
- email@example.com Discusses issues unique to librarians working with incarcerated youth.
- firstname.lastname@example.org YALSA serving YA’s in large urban populations
- email@example.com GLBTRT Reviewers list
Finally, start networking with people on twitter. Here are a few to follow: