Part of our job as librarians is to help support curriculum and to collaborate to see what resources teachers need to supplement their lessons. We research, we curate, we share. When we’re doing this work, it’s important that we are looking for gaps in curriculum and in representation in texts. Another aspect of our job as a building leader striving towards equity is to do our part to help ensure that all students and cultures are represented in an accurate manner that doesn’t just portray one side of the story.
There’s a new humanities curriculum for some grade levels in my building and district. It was observed that the representation of American Indians in the 5th grade curriculum/book did not include enough information or any current information. Hearing that, I set out to gather resources.
Filling the Gaps
Time to Start
It was hard for me to start this. I wanted it to be a perfect opening. But if we wait for something to be perfect or if we wait to be ready, then sometimes things don't happen. I used to sit on the sidelines when it came to equity work for the same reasons. "What if I said the wrong thing?" "But I don't like confrontation." (Ugh. There is some white privilege in those excuses that I see now. White educators and people can choose whether or not to opt into these conversations and work. That's not a choice people of color typically have.) I needed to confront that and my fears of making mistakes to start creating some noise and raising my voice louder with equity work. Librarians have an eons old stereotype of being the shushers, but I think we can also be the noise makers. What better thing to make noise about than equitable access, representation, and inclusion in our libraries and schools?
Librarians MUST be involved in equity work personally and professionally. We are one of the "gatekeepers" in our schools or institutions. We are one of the few people in our buildings who affect and interact with every single student, patron, and/or adult. Helping every kid see themselves in books (read Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop work on this), standing up to soft censorship (read K. A. Holt's piece on this), demanding resource/technology access for everyone, and dismantling systems that aren't working to replace with new ones are what we do. If we aren't looking at those through an equity lens, then some people relying on us will not get the resources, information, books, technology, or ally they need and deserve.
New content and resources are being created with the collaboration of the ISTE Librarians Team plus bringing in more voices to support school librarians in exploring the current issues and changes in our fields. Check out the following upcoming new events and resources coming this month in October.
The purpose of the ISTE Librarians Network is to promote librarians as leaders and champions of educational technology and digital literacy. The key mission is to provide a professional learning community where librarians can leverage technology knowledge and expertise to improve school library programs, increase access to information, and foster strong teaching and learning environments in a connected world.