In the past several years, one of the critical responsibilities of the Library Service to Underserved Children and Their Caregivers (LSUCTC) Committee was to administer and oversee all components of the Light the Way grant. It was a mighty responsibility, and one we quite enjoyed. With the grant moving to the Programs & Services Recognition Committee this year, our committee saw this as an opportunity to provide more resources to children’s librarians who serve marginalized populations.
In 2015, our committee rolled out a toolkit for librarians. It was filled with resources, community organizations, and research related to eight different underserved populations. Long have we sought to revisit these resources and update them. Last year, we solicited feedback from ALSC members about the toolkit, and we were disheartened by two pieces of evidence: 1.) the information in our toolkit was perceived as outdated and/or not particularly useful and, perhaps more alarmingly, 2.) very few children’s librarians visited the toolkit itself. However, many respondents hinted that a toolkit would be useful – if only it could be frequently updated.
Then COVID-19 hit, and the need for information – up-to-date, flexible, and timely information – increased, seemingly overnight. It occurred to us that a static toolkit wasn’t going to work – no matter how many times we revisited it.
We needed something dynamic, something that could be easily updated, something that ALSC members could turn to – and even contribute to. Librarians, by nature, are collaborative. We needed our toolkit to reflect that.
So we cooked up a plan – a beta test, if you will – for the coming year that would allow us to dip our toes into the water and see where this experiment takes us. Of course, we are hopeful that it will be a resounding success.
For the 2020-2021 year, LSUCTC’s monthly posts to the ALSC blog will focus on an underserved population, and we will provide a link to our new “dynamic” toolkit (which sounds fancier than “Google Folder”… which it is).
In the toolkit, we’ll provide a framework for that underserved population- from resources and activities to book recommendations and scholarly research. Additionally, we will solicit ideas and resources and programs from you, our readers. After all, collective investment in these underserved populations is the goal of this committee (and ultimately ALSC itself) – and we can’t do it by ourselves. We must act and learn from each other together.
We’re excited to roll out our first targeted population on August 1, and we’re eager to know what you think of this idea!
Joe Prince is the co-chair of the Library Service to Underserved Children and Their Caregiver Committee. He was recently elected to the 2022 Sibert Award Committee after serving on the 2020 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award Committee. His love for nonfiction runs very, very deep.