INF330: Diversity

diversity

Diversity

Activity: Observe and document a program delivered for children or young adults at a local library, reflect on the experience.

Woollahra Library presents a weekly Storytime program for pre-school children (3-5 yrs.) which aims to promote reading readiness through language, rhythm and rhyme. I have attended and assisted with this program a number of times in the course of my work duties and have observed a themed approach which runs through the course of the half hour program which begins with a story read with the use of props or toys, followed by a related song and culminating in a simple craft activity. The themes have been seen to range from occupations, transportation, book characters, food and nutrition and animals. Multicultural themes are explored annually on Harmony day and indigenous themes are the focus during Naidoc week.

Whilst the topics and structure of the program can be seen to be age appropriate, in my observation there is a shortfall in the frequency and scope of culturally diverse themes. One explanation for this could be that demographically speaking the areas serviced by the library are not highly represented by those from CALD backgrounds. However, in Overton’s (2016. P.13) view, children should be allowed to develop a sense of familiarity with diversity, regardless of their background, through stories and images that reflect and celebrate individual differences in regards to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, physical abilities and religion. Importantly too, Overton suggests that featuring diversity only at certain times of the year may encourage the notion of’ “the other”, which can be seen to be in direct opposition to the promotion of diversity. In Naidoo’s (2014 p.5) view the library is an ideal environment to introduce positive representations of diversity to children which may help them develop favourable attitudes to those perceived as “the other”. Furthermore, Hunter (2015. P.34) explains that by exposing our children to other lives and other stories a commonality may be found, which in turn may engender empathy, and, in his view this may also be an effective way to eradicate racism.

On reflection I have been able to understand the importance of promoting diversity within the community. I see that the Library’s Storytime program is an opportunity to allow children to develop a sense of familiarity with diversity through exposing them to stories and cultures different to their own with the view of creating respect for each other’s differences.

This new understanding can be seen to be relevant to my professional practice as a CYA librarian as I will be sure to include books and stories representing an array of cultures, to move beyond representing our own community, and to do so on a regular basis.

My previous understanding was that the library seemingly supported diversity through the inclusion of annual multicultural programming, this could be seen to reflect a gap in my knowledge. I now understand that multicultural themes should be a regular inclusion in programs and need not be based entirely upon demographic information about the cultures of the community of which we serve, to do so could be seen to truly cater to diversity.

 

 

 

References

 

Hunter, S. (2015). Promoting Diversity at Your Library. The Booklist, 111(11), 43.  Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1651243234?accountid=10344

 

Naidoo, C. (2014). The importance of diversity in library programs and material collections forchildren. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/alsc/sites/ala.org.alsc/files/content/ALSCwhitepaper_importance%20of%20diversity_with%20graphics_FINAL.pdf

 

Overton, N. (2016, Jan/Feb) Libraries Need Diverse Books. Public Libraries, 55, 13-14. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1773243107?accountid=10344

 

 

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2 thoughts on “INF330: Diversity

  1. After having read your piece on diversity, it made me realise diversity should be embedded in all our programs and services, to ensure no child feels like “the other”. Rather than celebrating diversity once in a while, which sends the wrong message to people.

    I guess, I was lucky to have grown up with parents who explained to me anything can be flipped around. So I grew up believing every character can be played by anyone, regardless of age, gender, or race. Take for example, Shakespeare’s Juliet, I have seen various kinds of people play the role: a man (Nesseth, 2011), an African American female (Lewis, 2015), and a Mexican (Sydney, 2012).

    However, I can only imagine, what a child must feel being constantly exposed to stereotypical imagery. It has the potential to mislead them and they start to internalised the stigma (Farr et. al, 2016). By introducing diversity through story time and picture book is great for it is non-confronting and can gently ease children into thinking more broadly (Horsely, 2007; Lenox, 2000).

    References
    Farr, R., Crain, E., Oakley, M., Cashen, K., & Garber, K. (2016). Microaggressions, Feelings of Difference, and Resilience Among Adopted Children with Sexual Minority Parents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 45(1), 85-104. doi:10.1007/s10964-015-0353-6

    Horsely, K. (2007). Storytelling, conflict and diversity. Community Development Journal, 42(2), 265-269. doi:10.1093/cdj/bsm002

    Lenox, M. (2000). Storytelling for Young Children in a Multicultural World. Early Childhood Education Journal, 28(2), 97-103. doi:10.1023/A:1009599320835

    Lewis, J. (2015). Alumini Profile, In Whitman magazine, winter 2015.Retrieved from [5,
    May 2016] https://www.whitman.edu/newsroom/whitman-magazine/whitman-magazine-winter-2015/wm-alumni-news-feb.-2015/wm-alumni-profile-feb-2015

    Nesseth, N. (2011). Romeo And Juliet Re-Telling Includes All-Male Cast, in The Argus:
    Lakehead University’s Student Newspaper. Retrieved from [5, May 2016] http://theargus.ca/ac/2011/romeo-and-juliet-re-telling-includes-all-male-cast/

    Sydney, A. (2012). OSF serves Romeo and Juliet with salsa, In Drama in the Hood.
    Retrieved from [5, May 2016] http://www.dramainthehood.net/2012/09/1247/

  2. Your blog was really interesting to read and delved in to the importance of including more multicultural programs in libraries to help children understand not only diversity but different cultures. Children come from a range of diverse culture and linguistic backgrounds and it is important that as librarians we recognise this and make them feel a valued part of the library service (Ghoting, & Martin-Diaz, 2013, p. 39). Story-telling sessions are a great way to help everyone understand the world we live in and learn about and appreciate other cultures (Rankin, & Brock, 2015, p. 224).
    While I have found a lot of library services support a range of diversity issues in the community through programs offered, there are not so many library services that offer specific multicultural programs.
    Children start out life innocent and learn through their experience and teachings (Kemple, & Lopez, 2009). Engaging children in programs that actively encourage and support diversity helps children to understand what diversity is and why it is important to embrace the differences in people.
    As librarians I think it is really important to ask ourselves the following questions to gain a greater understanding of diversity as a whole; What is diversity? And why is it important? Where exactly does the issue of diversity come from? What make us begin judging people for the way they look, speak, talk and act? Where does the stereotyping come in? And how can we help address diversity issues?
    References:
    Ghoting, S. N., & Martin-Diaz, P. (2013). Storytimes for everyone!: developing young children’s language and literacy. Chicago: American Library Association
    Kemple, K. M., & Lopez, M. (2009). Blue eyes, brown eyes, cornrows, and curls: building on books to explore physical diversity with preschool children. Dimensions of Early Childhood, 37(1), 23-30
    Rankin, C., & Brock, A. (2015). Library services from birth to five: delivering the best start. London: Facet publishing

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