Month: June 2020

Diversity in Our Collections

Diversity in our collections. Let’s talk about it.

Our collection development librarians have been working hard to enhance the diversity in our collection for many years. It’s a big part of their job. They keep up with trends, ideas, and tools that help them buy a wide variety of materials in multiple formats.

One of the concrete actions libraries often take in response to big events is to take a closer look at certain segments of the collection. For example, recent events have caused staff to reevaluate and augment our collection of materials related to social and political issues, and especially to check in on our collection of materials by black creators. This usually happens behind the scenes, but we want to make transparent the work that’s going on in service of crafting a better collection for you, our community.

It’s harder work than it seems because our collections are living, ever-changing things, and managing something so large and so fluid is a challenge.

If you had a bookshelf at home with a couple dozen books on it, you would notice immediately if something was missing. There would be a hole on your shelf. And you’d probably be familiar, at least on sight, with everything that’s on the shelf. It’s also fairly easy to look at a shelf like this and see who is and isn’t represented.

Now imagine bookshelves lining your entire home. Plus some books piled here and there. Plus some books that have been moved to the “annex” aka porch, and are covered with a tarp and hopefully aren’t housing a family of earwigs, but it definitely keeps you up at night that you might be housing a family of earwigs.

Now imagine that people come in and out of your house all day, every day, and borrow items. Sometimes those items are returned to your friend’s house, and your friend also has a huge collection of items, and your friend has a different system of—

This analogy has gone far enough, and you get the point. It’s hard to keep track of everything, and it’s hard to get a solid grasp of what is in the collection, to take a snapshot that truly represents what we’ve got and what we’re missing.

Because our collections are so huge, and because they’re always moving between branches, and because sometimes items are lost or damaged, the collection changes quickly. Monday’s collection at Lincoln Park might not look anything like Friday’s collection in the same building.

This means our staff has to use some next-level tools and techniques to keep up with new titles, foundation titles gone missing, and old titles that didn’t get their due upon release.

Concrete Steps

Here are some of the concrete steps we’ve taken in the last few weeks, prompted by larger cultural discussions about race and systemic injustice, as well as an emphasis on #OwnVoices ideals, to check up on our collection:

The person who buys for our children’s materials has been taking a close look at the children’s picture book collection and buying titles, both new and old, related to the topics of social justice and politics. This is based on some new research as well as lists that she keeps in order to quickly check for holes in the collection. With a collection as large as ours, sometimes a title that’s popular and wonderful will disappear for awhile due to A Series of Unfortunate Events that causes all copies to be lost, missing, or damaged in a short period. Children’s books are especially susceptible to this. Kids are hard on books. In a good way. We’re cool with it, but you know, it’s the truth.

Our non-fiction buyer has been looking closely at the non-fiction collection and purchasing books in these areas as well. She says her job is easier than that of her coworkers due to the nature of non-fiction, but that might just be modesty. One challenge faced in non-fiction is that the publishing world moves VERY slowly, so while readers are hungry to read more detailed stories about George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others, their stories haven’t yet found their way through the publication process to pulp and ink you can hold in your hands. So it’s the duty of our non-fiction buyer to seek out parallel stories and books that will inform and educate readers about the larger cultural discussions of race and systems of power, and to fill in knowledge gaps until publishing catches up with current events.

The librarian who does our A/V and streaming purchases has posted a list of available titles pertaining to social justice issues to the front of Overdrive and continues to look for more digital materials as well. Kanopy also has an excellent collection and categories on the front page such as “Social and Systematic Injustice” and “Pioneering Black Filmmakers.” Hoopla has searchable categories such as “Black Voices” and “Black Stories Matter” that can be very helpful in selecting materials. All of these resources provide great materials for adults as well as children.

The person who buys fiction has been making purchases, checking for missing titles, and putting together a huge list of resources for diversifying collections (see below).

Other staff who aren’t in the buying game have been hard at work on booklists and bookmarks that highlight authors and titles in various parts of the collection, whether they be movies, romance titles, or others. Keep an eye out, these will be popping up soon.


These are just a few tools we use to improve and maintain the collection, and they might be helpful to you, too.

Johns Hopkins Diversity Wheel

Hawkins, Blake & Morris, Martin & Nguyen, Tony & Siegel, John & Vardell, Emily. (2017). Advancing the conversation: Next steps for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (LGBTQ) health sciences librarianship. Journal of the Medical Library Association. 105. 10.5195/JMLA.2017.206.

This tool is one that helps us appreciate just how multi-faceted every individual is. Used along with this published paper we can see that issues of representation are more nuanced and meaningful than one might expect at first glance. To truly represent everybody is a monumental task and a constant work-in-progress. is also a great resource, and this page in particular links to an always-growing list of resources. This provides a great way to check up on and build our collection, and it’s a big help building a to-read list, if you’re in that market. One of the great things about this non-profit is that they recognize that the dearth of diverse literature starts with publication. Indeed, it can be frustrating to seek out books that represent groups or even individuals and to find very few options. 


We’ve been taking a look at some awards that help us round out the collection and make sure we’ve got the best of the best. Here’s a short list of awards we’ve been looking at in the past few weeks. Take a look. You might see something you like!

The Pura Belpré Award

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards

The (Mildred L.) Batchelder Award

Stonewall Book Awards

The William C. Morris YA Debut Award

YOU Can Help!

One of the hardest parts about maintaining a collection is identifying what’s missing. Whether something has left our collection or was never there, absence is harder to notice than presence. And just because it’s not there now doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be.

We’re working hard to balance out our collection, and we can do better with your help.

If you are aware of books, movies, music, anything related to topics you’re passionate about, we want to hear about them.

First step: check our catalog and make sure we don’t have it already!

Then, if you don’t find it, fill out a purchase suggestion.

We can’t buy everything. Sometimes publishers make things difficult for libraries, sometimes things go out of print—there are a lot of factors that feed into whether or not we’re able to get something on the shelves. So we can’t promise we’ll buy everything, but we CAN promise that we’ll make the effort.

We’re moving forward, and we need your help. Nudge us in the right direction. Point out the opportunities we’re missing. Help us make a collection you’re proud to call yours. Because truly, these materials belong to you, our patrons, and they should represent you.

Your library’s collection is imperfect, and it never will be perfect. No library will ever build a perfect collection. As close to perfect as a library can get is to keep moving forward. Even though we’ll never reach perfection, we’re still walking in perfection’s direction. We invite you to walk with us.

Interlibrary Loan Services Now Available

June 22, 2020

Prospector is currently not in operation, and we ask that you refrain from placing Prospector holds. However, Interlibrary Loan services are now available, and ILL requests can now be placed. Please be patient as some libraries in other states or connected to educational institutions have not reopened, so some materials may still be unavailable at this time.

A Message From The High Plains Library District Board of Trustees

The High Plains Library District has always and will continue to stand against racism and violence in all shapes and forms. Our Black community is suffering; we support them and look for ways to ease their grief and loss. Racism, whether it be individual or systemic, degrades the very foundation of all our institutions, including our libraries. We also support our local and national law enforcement agencies while denouncing the deplorable acts of some in their ranks. Tasked with a difficult job, they too suffer grief and loss because of the egregious actions of a few.

Our mission is Helping build Community, and that is more vital now than ever before. Libraries are a place to create community and foster acceptance and inclusivity. Maya Angelou wrote, “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” We as a District will continue to provide programming, services, and resources that contribute positively to what our patrons know and do.

The following action items in our 2019-2024 Strategic Plan reflect our stance against violence and racism. We will further our mission by:

  1. Focusing Outreach on building relationships with our underserved communities
  2. Creating a welcoming and inviting environment for our diverse district population
  3. Curating collections and offering programs that are representative of cultures and nationalities of the populations in each service area
  4. Selecting and focusing on targeted segments of the population to design programs
  5. Holding staff led conversations about innovating services and programs to better support community needs
  6. Supporting all sections of the community to achieve their literacy goals, in their native language or a secondary language
  7. Offering and moderating programming that encourages crucial conversations and civil discourse

Each of these action items is intended to further build and strengthen our community. We invite you to stand with us as a participating patron of this Library District.

The High Plains Library District connects communities to information, inspiration and entertainment for life. HPLD includes libraries in Greeley, Firestone, Erie, Kersey, Ault, Eaton, Evans, Johnstown, Platteville, Hudson, Gilcrest and Fort Lupton.

Tax Aide Information

from AARP:

The National AARP Tax-Aide office has determined which sites could possibly reopen and which will not reopen this tax season.  Sites in counties that are classified as having “spreading” Covid-19, like Weld and Boulder Counties, will not be allowed to reopen.

AARP is offering options to assist taxpayers to prepare tax returns:

  • A self-preparation option that provides taxpayers with free access to software so they can prepare taxes on their own is available at
  • If taxpayers would like help completing their own taxes, they can request the assistance of a volunteer to coach them through the process via phone or computer screen-sharing. This website has more information
  • There is no penalty for filing late for returns with refunds.  Tax-Aide can prepare two years of tax returns if the site is open next year.