by Ella Procaccinti
In September of 2020, the sixth years took on an ambitious project to maintain the Quest community library. The goal was to create a library full of books that were up to date and diverse.
When the project began, the library was stocked with approximately 900 books, 150 of which were deemed outdated — in other words, published before 1980 (not including classics like The Wizard of Oz or The Lord Of The Rings, of course). To tackle this, the sixth years split into two individual clusters, one of which was handling the donation of outdated and duplicated books to libraries around the state.
Meanwhile, Group Two tackled the job of introducing some books with more diverse characters into the mix of primarily Sir Lancelots and Harry Potters. Tasked with this undertaking, Group Two began to sort through book after book, categorizing them by race of the main character. The results were shocking.
Out of 748 up-to-date books, 583 of them had White main characters. While 83 of them had animal main characters, 26 of them had Black main characters, 12 had Native American main characters, 9 had Asian main characters, 4 had Hispanic main characters and only two had Indian main characters. The gap, to say the least, was enormous and needed quite a bit of filling in.
Before they began to bridge the race gap, Group Two also recorded the gender of the main characters to determine more criteria for the list of books that would fill in the hole left by The Hardy Boys and its peers. The gender gap was much smaller than anticipated, unlike the first round. It goes as such, 304 of them had male main characters, 204 of them had female protagonists, 154 had main characters of both genders, and 83, again, revolved around animals.
While Group Two rearranged books on the shelves, Group One was finding libraries that would take the 150 out of date books as donations. These titles are currently being replaced with a list of books created by the UE community as a whole. With their help we are hoping to diversify and breathe some fresh life into our wonderful but slightly neglected library. We have provided the link to our wish list here:Elementary Library Wish List
- We took all of the books that looked outdated off of the shelves.
- The books were sorted and publication dates were checked.
- Any remaining books were taken off the shelves.
- Books were then sorted by the race of the main character and counted.
- They were sorted again, this time by the gender of the main character and counted.
- The last sorting of the books was done alphabetically, by the first letter of the author’s last name.
- Books were put back on the shelves.
- Local libraries were called to see if they would take the outdated books as donations.
- Research for new, more diverse books began.
- The outdated books were donated to the Willett Library, in Saunderstown.
- New books were purchased.
- The class received books donated by parents.
- The new and donated books were unpacked.
- They were sorted alphabetically, by the first letter of the author’s last name again.
- Lastly, the new books were put on the shelves.