Date of Award

1-1-2012

Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Department

School of Library and information Science

First Advisor

Paul Solomon

Abstract

This transformative mixed methods study explored how books for African American and Latino youth are collected in South Carolina's public libraries. With little previous research on multicultural collection development in public library youth services in practice, library and information science benefits from studies that explore the practices of librarians responsible for youth collection development. A Critical Race Theory and Latino/a Critical Theory lens was used to address the normalization of racism and nativism in U.S. society and institutions. The study was designed to determine how extensively South Carolina's public libraries are collecting youth literature that represents accurate and authentic portrayals of people of color and to explore if some libraries offer examples of best practices for improved multicultural collection development. Other goals were how the use of a critical racial lens and multiple case study analysis can further the knowledge of racial and ethnic inequities in public library youth services and bring about change.

Phase I included an analysis of every South Carolina public library youth collection, based on a booklist of nationally recognized African American and Latino youth titles. Analysis also included youth population and print collection size, expenditures, and per capita expenditures. Evolving from this analysis, three positively atypical libraries were selected for the Phase II case studies as potential sites for examples of best practices. Fieldwork included interviews, observations, fieldnotes, a researcher's journal, and archival data, and cross-case analysis followed the individual case studies.

Findings indicated that many South Carolina libraries are collecting the number of racially diverse youth books expected given their youth populations and collection holdings and budgets; however, there was considerable variation in the numbers of African American and Latino titles in many libraries, and several libraries that serve large African American and/or Latino youth populations did not reflect community racial demographics in their youth collections. Cross-case analysis revealed 14 examples of best practices, which fall into four categories: collection, staff, programming and outreach, and continuing education. Findings also suggested that progressive, visionary directors could be a factor in these diverse collections.

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