LibraryReads Needs Diverse Books

A recent analysis of titles picked for the LibraryReads program showed a sorry lack of diversity. The headline of the Book Riot story puts it succinctly and starkly, “LibraryReads So White, or Why Librarians Need to Do Better.

This is not news to the LibraryReads Steering Committee (which, until recently, I was part of and continue to be an advocate). As current member Stephanie Anderson of Darien PL, responded, the group is working on plans to encourage more nominations from library staff. As she says, “diverse titles make the list when multiple librarians read them in advance and vote for them. I agree that as individual librarians, we have a lot of work to do.”

Fortunately, you can be part of the solution. Set your own personal challenge to read more diversely and nominate the titles you discover for LibraryReads. If you’re part of the crowd grabbing galleys at ALA this week, give special attention to those by non-white authors. If you need suggestions, ask the library marketers. We expect, in response to this issue, that publishers will soon be posting diversity catalogs and we will do a round up.


On my own TBR list is Gabrielle Union’s We’re Going to Need More Wine: Stories That Are Funny, Complicated, and True (HarperCollins/Dey Street). She had me at the title, but she sealed the deal with heartfelt tribute to libraries during a panel at Book Expo. Print galleys will be available in July, but you can download digital ARCs in the next few days.

I’ll also be reading Celeste Ng’s second book, Little Fires Everywhere (PRH/Penguin Press; Penguin Audio/BOT). She will be featured at the United for Libraries Gala Author Tea.

It’s timely that one of the programs on the upcoming ALA agenda is Growing Readership Through Diversity. As that title indicates, not only will LibraryReads benefit from your diversifying your reading, so will your library.

4 Responses to “LibraryReads Needs Diverse Books”

  1. Joy Jones Says:

    All this talk of diversity is ridiculous. People read what they want to read and they shouldn’t judge a book by what color the author is. Yes, some folks do need to branch out on their reading but don’t preach. It isn’t becoming. Why not just suggest?

  2. Nan Cinnater Says:

    I feel strongly that talk of diversity is never ridiculous! I applaud Katie McLain for doing the math (literally) and giving us a good analysis of LibraryReads. Suggesting is what LibraryReads is for; it’s what readers’ advisory is all about. And with all the buzz about so many excellent new books from writers of non-European ancestry, shame on librarians for ignoring them.

  3. Megan Says:

    I must agree with Nan! As a white cisgender female, it is never difficult for me to find a book on the bestseller list or on “recommended reading” lists that I will enjoy and can relate to. However, not every reader looks like me, and I totally support the desire and need for all readers to be able to find characters they can relate to in the books they read. Furthermore, I see the value in reading books with characters who are NOT like us, and for all these reasons, diversity in reading and publishing is important, valuable and ENJOYABLE!

  4. Kate Says:

    I agree with Nan and Megan. The idea, I believe, is to enrich our collections with good literature, different perspectives, and diverse talent – not to preach to people what they should read, or select simply on basis of color. We can’t suggest what we don’t have, or what we don’t know is available.