Kirkland Middle School Builds a More Inclusive Library Collection

An interview with Liz Haggerty to learn more about her school’s use of the LWSF-funded Inclusive Libraries grant.

Last year, Kirkland Middle School was one of the first LWSD schools to participate in the Inclusive Libraries project, funded by Lake Washington Schools Foundation as part of its 5-year grant commitment to increase the diversity of every school’s library collection across the district.

Recently, we made a visit to the school library to view the collection of 110 newly-purchased books (scroll down to view photos of some of these books). We also took the opportunity to sit down with Teacher-Librarian, Liz Haggerty, to learn more about how the grant has impacted Kirkland Middle School and its students.

Can you tell us about state of Kirkland Middle School’s library collection prior to LWSF’s inclusive libraries grant?
In the past 8 years as Kirkland Middle School’s librarian, I have actively worked to diversify the collection. My focus has mostly been on our fiction collection as it is what students tend to check out more. Most non-fiction collections in our district have been with their schools for many years and haven’t changed much.  My collection was weeded periodically, but with no additional funding, most of the books were outdated.

When you heard about LWSF’s Inclusive Libraries grant, what did you do?
When given the opportunity through the LWSF grant, I decided to evaluate our non-fiction collection. Using the information from the grant-funded training, I began the work of auditing the non-fiction collection for diversity. I used the following categories: BIPOC, Sexual Identity, Disability (referred to in the audit as Diverse Abilities), ME/Religion, Empowerment (Social Emotional), and International Perspective. 

Can you share some findings from your audit?
Many of our non-fiction books were over two decades old. Our history books were mostly from before the year 2000. Our religion books also averaged from the 2000’s. Replacing some of these would both change the age of the collection and provide students with more accurate and authentic information. The same could be said of our social emotional and empowerment books, many of which were from as early as 2001. 

Demographic data from OSPI about Kirkland Middle School shows that 39% of our students indicate a BIPOC Heritage and 10.5% identify as having a disability. Our library collection statistics did not represent our student body or our community.  

How did your school use the funding from LWSF’s grant?
Utilizing the LWSF grant, we were able to purchase 123 new titles to increase inclusivity, authentic representation, and meet the social emotional needs of our students. Many of the titles chosen fit into more than one of the following categories of  BIPOC, Sexual Identity, Disability, ME/Religion, Empowerment, and International Perspective.   

What do you hope to accomplish with these new purchases?
A priority of Lake Washington School District’s Equity department states “We increase equitable outcomes by addressing barriers to engagement and success.” These purchases will make a clear difference and infuse new breath in our nonfiction collection. Thank you, Lake Washington Schools Foundation!

Liz Haggerty will be speaking more about the Inclusive Libraries project at LWSF’s Be the Bridge Spring Benefit on March 23. Learn more and register at our Be the Bridge page.

Bonnie is the Communications and Programs Coordinator for Lake Washington Schools Foundation.

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