Librarians Update Collections to Reflect Sense of Communal Belonging

By Assistant Head of School for Academics David Long & CDEIO Karen Bradberry 

Earlier this school year, we shared that one of our strategic plan goals is to develop a sense of belonging in our students, families, faculty, and staff. In fact, the vision of our diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts is to build and sustain a Galloway community where every member knows they belong. Belonging is the feeling of safety and support we experience when we know others value, accept, and include us because of who we are. It is the end goal or product of all our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. When we know we belong, we are more inclined to be and give our very best - whether we are participating in a class discussion, attending a parent event, studying for an exam, or simply being kind and respectful to others whose opinions differ from our own. 

At Galloway, everyone is expected to do their part to develop and sustain a sense of belonging, and our Early Learning Librarian Steve Bartl and our Middle & Upper Learning Librarian and Media Specialist Kathleen McKim are doing just that! We know that students, faculty, and staff thrive when they see themselves and their cultures represented accurately and positively in our student body and in our curriculum. In turn, our librarians practice critical consciousness to ensure our libraries foster a sense of holistic belonging and excellence while remaining a place for students to both see themselves and learn about others.

In Early Learning, Mr. Bartl noticed the past few years a rise in the number of works of fiction that showcase diverse characters and has spent the past few years updating the library in order to create a more inclusive collection for our youngest learners. In addition, Mr. Bartl audited the non-fiction collection and used funds from Galloway’s Innovation Grant to purchase updated books that contain more accurate information. Mr. Bartl also sets up displays with books related to cultural celebrations. For example, for the month of November, students can check out books related to Native American Heritage Month. Through storytime, Mr. Bartl also exposes students to other cultures and partners with the teachers by providing books for them to use in their classroom that offer diverse perspectives. 

In Middle and Upper Learning, Ms. Kathleen initiated a three-year project this fall with the goal of decolonizing our collection to better reflect the Galloway community, our mission, and strategic plan. To achieve this goal, she is auditing the current collection of books and updating the collection with a more culturally responsive and relevant offering for students. She is intentional about purchasing books that provide mirrors (books that offer students the opportunity for critical self-reflection) and windows (books that offer students the opportunity to learn about and reflect on the experiences of others) for our ML and UL students. Currently, the ML/UL Library is celebrating Native American Heritage Month with a book display that features works, ranging from graphic novels to memoirs, written by Indigenous authors. 

As our mission states, Galloway seeks to develop our students’ knowledge, skills, and cultural competence, so they know how to successfully navigate and thrive in not only our community, but also in a diverse world that needs their knowledge and leadership. The work of our librarians is another example of how we do this every day at Galloway!