During former Library Director Matthew Shaw’s tenure at the University of Indianapolis, he applied for a grant from the Central Indiana Community Foundation to help the Krannert Memorial Library purchase diverse titles for students.
In September of 2016, the library was awarded the grant and had $10,000 to put toward new books with diverse themes and authors, according to Library Director Marisa Albrecht.
Shaw left UIndy by the time the grant was awarded, so the librarians interpreted the requirements of the grant in their own way. Cataloging and Acquisitions Librarian Lucy Fields began purchasing titles and films based on faculty suggestions and requests. However, when Albrecht took over the position of library director in January of 2017, there was still money leftover that needed to be spent by September.
Albrecht said that she was going to have the librarians use the remainder of the money however they felt was appropriate. However, when the role of vice president and chief equity and inclusion officer was created and it was announced that Sean Huddleston would fill the position, Albrecht decided to reach out to him.
“I heard that Sean Huddleston was coming aboard, and so I decided to wait for him and give him the money to spend, which he happily did,” Albrecht said. “We met really early after he got here and I said, ‘Hey, I have money for you to spend,’ which is kind of a surprising meeting. He was able to consult some of his colleagues and other lists of essential titles and he got us a nice, nice list. Again, some of them were things that we couldn’t get or we already owned, so I had to go back to him and say, ‘We still have more money, can you give me more titles?’”
Huddleston’s input was helpful to the library staff. Having an expert opinion helped them to find the best titles, Albrecht said.
“We have six librarians and so our areas of background—we don’t have very much to draw from,” Albrecht said. “I have a geology background, Lucy [Fields] has a theater background, we have English and history. But we didn’t have anything multicultural or anything like that, so just even our undergraduate backgrounds limited that… having Sean’s input, that was very, very helpful.”
With suggestions from faculty members and Huddleston, the library was able to purchase a variety of both research and fiction titles that fit with the theme of diversity, including books with a focus on Native American studies and disability studies, according to Fields.
“We tried to get titles in many diverse topics, not only the obvious race and color,” Fields said. “We also thought about gender—which is something you don’t automatically think about in diversity—and intercultural religion, freedom of religion.”
The titles purchased ranged from “Hidden Figures” to “Native American Studies in Higher Education” to “A Puerto Rican in New York and Other Sketches,” and some faculty members requested books about teaching diverse populations, according to Albrecht and Fields.
The library purchases new titles regularly, based on department, faculty and student requests. Most of the time, the books are research focused, Albrecht said, but students have been requesting more literature based titles that they can check out to read as brain breaks.
The library has copies of “The Game of Thrones” and the “Harry Potter” series, John Green’s new book “Turtles All the Way Down” and even graphic novels like the “March” trilogy about Congressman John Lewis.
This summer, they put together a popular culture collection that featured some of these works as well as new titles they had purchased, according to Fields.
“We pulled some things we already had,” Fields said. “Some of us brought things in from home that we were wanting to find a different home for, and we turned it into a whole popular reading collection.”
A few of the titles purchased with the grant money made it into that collection, Albrecht said. All of the books were shelved where they belong in the Dewey Decimal system.
Albrecht said that she will be making a LibGuide, or a research guide, that lists all the titles purchased with the grant money and brief synopses of them for students to look through on the library’s MyUIndy page.
Albrecht also encourages students to browse the shelves in the basement of the library.
“Serendipity is a big thing, we think in libraries,” Albrecht said. “That’s why I think it’s still important to have books and not everything online. Because you’re not just going to happen to walk by something that catches your eye online, whereas if you’re downstairs looking for another book you might see something that you hadn’t even ever heard of. We just hope that people learn and get exposed to things they hadn’t thought of.”
If students have any requests for specific titles or more books in a genre or area of study, Albrecht said that they can pass those along to her.
The library purchases books regularly and is looking into applying for more grants in the future.
“If there’s other areas that we should pursue, it would be nice for them [students] to let us know what those are, and maybe that’s a future grant,” Albrecht said. “There’s so much we can do and want to do, but we have to have the money for it.”