The idea of considering access for special groups of students (Bishop, 2007) is one that I agree is important. The reading, Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors by Rudine Sims Bishop further supported the idea for me that all our students need to see that their school library has books that they can relate to and that reflect their experiences and diversity. We do have a diverse student population in our school, and I am not certain that our collection is reflective of that diversity.
Prior to the course I did consider that making additions to the collection that help represent the culture and identity of First Nation’s people to become more widely appreciated and to be part of our regular collection. I especially wanted representation in the easy section where our younger students generally look for books and in the Graphic Novel section, which is very popular with our students in grades 3-6.
This was an area of focus for me, and one I have been fortunately been able to add to this year, because I feel it is important to have appealing books that share and highlight First Nations culture readily available to all our students, particularly those who identify as First Nations.
After the readings on this topic I realized that I may have much more work to do, if I am to find books that represent students who have other cultural and ethnic backgrounds that may not be well represented. Also, I have recently started to suspect that an area that needs to be assessed is the one for students who are themselves gay or lesbian or have gay and lesbian families or parents. Beyond the one book I added this year in the Graphic Novel section, Drama, which has a gay character, I am not aware of any books or resources in our library that are reflective of this topic. Although not mentioned in the reading, I also believe I need to consider content for students or students of families who are transgender or cross-dressing. We currently have a male student who, although I have not talked to him or anyone else about his self-identity, appears to me to identify more as a female socially and in appearance. Most people meeting him assume he is a girl. Since he is a responsible, intelligent student who loves to read I do think having books that reflect his experience might be helpful for him and others in our school community. It occurred to me that reading about characters that dress as the other gender may interest him because one day I overheard his enthusiastic comment about the character Charlotte Doyle dressing like a boy.
After the considering the readings and reflecting on the student’s comment and what I know of our collection, I realized that this should be the next area for me to focus upon for development. Making an assessment of our current collection and seeking out reviews and recommendations for any new additions, to fill-out the collection and add more “windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors” will take time, but in this case may make a real contribution to a student in our community. In practice, I want to continue to focus on areas of development over time to help our library collection reflect the diversity of the community it serves.
Many of the new things I have learned during this course about collection development and maintenance will take time over multiple years, particularly with the limited time I have in my position, to complete for the collection as a whole. Never the less, what I have learned about understanding the community, policy, assessing the collection for learning resources, maintaining the collection and weeding, organizing purchasing and accessing reviews, intellectual freedom, and developing the collection for inclusiveness and for the diversity of all our students will continue to inform my practice as a teacher-librarian in the future.