Still blogging infrequently and mostly absent from social media, but this is a huge piece of work. I hope to write up some reflections on what I learned through this process before too long.
Today, we are excited to announce that the Project READY (Reimagining Equity and Access for Diverse Youth) online racial equity curriculum is live and accessible at ready.web.unc.edu. Learn more at Booth 2650 at ALA Annual in Washington, DC.
A historic milestone was quietly reached in the American public school system during the 2014-2015 school year: for the first time in history,youth of color made up the majority of students attending U.S. public schools. Creating inclusive and equitable school and public library programs for Black youth, Indigenous youth, and Youth of Color (BIYOC) requires knowledge about topics such as race and racism, implicit bias and microaggressions, cultural competence and culturally sustaining pedagogy, and equity and social justice. Research shows, however, that few library and information science (LIS) master’s programs include these topics in their curriculum.A recent survey focused specifically on early career youth services librarians found that only 26.8% of respondents said that social justice was included in a substantive way in their master’s curriculum; 37.2% said that cultural competency was substantively included, and 41.8% said that equity and inclusion was substantively included. Related to these findings, a majority (54.08%) of respondents said that their master’s programs did not prepare them well for working with youth of color and other marginalized youth.
In 2016, The School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the School of Library and Information Sciences at North Carolina Central University, and the Wake County (NC) Public School System (WCPSS) were awarded a three-year Continuing Education Project grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to develop Project READY to address this existing gap in professional development opportunities for youth services library staff. The curriculum aims to:
- introduce youth services library staff to research in areas such as race and racism, critical theory, and culturally responsive or sustaining pedagogy.
- establish a shared understanding of foundational concepts and issues related to race, racism, and racial equity.
- encourage self-reflection related to race and racial identity for both BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) and white library staff in public and school libraries.
- amplify the work of practitioners and scholars who are providing inclusive and culturally responsive services for youth of color and Indigenous youth.
- provide concrete strategies for creating and/or improving library programs and services for Black youth, Indigenous youth, and children and teens of color.
The curriculum consists of 27 modules, designed to be worked through by individuals or small groups. Modules are organized into three sequential sections. The first section (Foundations) focuses on basic concepts and issues that are fundamental to understanding race and racism and their impact on library services. The second section (Transforming Practice) explores how these foundational concepts relate to and can be applied in library environments. Finally, the third section (Continuing the Journey) explores how library professionals can sustain racial equity work and grow personally and professionally in this area after completing the curriculum.
The curriculum represents the work of 40 researchers, practitioners, administrators, and policymakers, and youth from a variety of racial and cultural backgrounds. It is grounded in the work of scholars of color and Indigenous scholars who have thought and written about issues related to institutional and individual racism, equity, inclusion, and social justice.
We hope this curriculum will benefit and inform the work of the many organizations and individuals that are working to improve the quality of life and educational opportunities for BIYOC.
We will be promoting the curriculum on the exhibit hall at ALA’s annual conference in Washington, DC - Booth 2650. We invite you to stop by and preview Project READY!
Sandra Hughes-Hassell, PhD Professor She/Her/Hers
Casey H. Rawson, PhD Teaching Assistant Professor She/Her/Hers
Kimberly Hirsh, MAT, MSLS PhD Student She/Her/Hers