University of Florida: UF among libraries among those to aid discoverability of middle grade and young adult books

The University of Florida (UF) in partnership with Bates College in Maine and California State University, Fresno, were awarded $427,100 by the Institute of Museum and Library Services to enhance the discoverability of middle grade (MG) and young adult (YA) books featuring Black and Indigenous People and People of Color (BIPOC) characters. The three-year project aims to build on the picture book Diverse BookFinder, which has cataloged and analyzed thousands of picture books featuring BIPOC characters published or distributed in the U.S. since 2002. The picture book collection resides at Bates College and is the only one of this kind in the world.

Now, UF librarians, in collaboration with Bates College and California State University, along with partners, will expand the Diverse BookFinder to include MG/YA books. In addition, the MG/YA books will be added to the Diverse BookFinder’s Search Tool — a first-of-its-kind online, searchable database that makes it easier for everyone to locate and explore picture books featuring BIPOC characters; provide Critical Data — real-time data on WHO (which BIPOC characters) is depicted and HOW; and expand the Collection Analysis Tool (CAT) — a free, online tool designed to help libraries diversify their picture book collections.

Four advisory groups from all over the United States will manage different parts of the project. The groups include librarians, publishers, authors, illustrators, teachersand professors. Upon completion, the MG/YA collection will reside at UF and will be available through Interlibrary Loan within the U.S. The database will continue to be managed by Bates College.

This project will provide librarians with the tools to diversify their collections, with the overarching goal to promote positive self-images and intercultural competence among children, thereby contributing to their lifelong learning. The impact of this grant will be seen in the windows and doors that are opened for children and young adults who read these books which will in turn strengthen the possibility of initializing change within themselves, their communities and beyond.

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