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Spotlight64: Library Revitalization - Investments in Diversity and Inclusion

SSE students enjoy new diversity library books

Library Revitalization - Investments in Diversity and Inclusion

Students and staff returning to Gulf Islands schools last week were welcomed back to libraries refreshed and restocked with new and diverse content.

Some, like those attending Fernwood, Fulford, and Salt Spring Elementary Schools, found the tired and outdated library spaces they left in June, renovated and reorganized into inviting learning commons where students can comfortably gather, study, and be inspired. Others will soon be using new library management software to search for and sign out the books and materials that capture their imagination and interest. And students and staff from every school in the district now have access to new and updated resources to help broaden their understandings of Diversity and Inclusion.

Captured in GISS diversity library booksA sample of GISS diversity fund purchases the district’ Strategic Plan, the value of diversity remains a central focus and the foundation to ensuring schools are welcoming and safe learning environments for all students to flourish Last year, the Board of Education allocated $50,000 to enhance and diversify school libraries, as part of its ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion, so that all students feel welcomed, supported, and most importantly, represented in their school.

School District 64 prides itself on being inclusive – it’s part of our identity. We are a learning community that celebrates differences and embraces equal opportunity and fairness for all.  The library diversity initiative demonstrates how the district is aligning resources to support inclusion and anti-racism goals as part of its Framework for Enhancing Student Learning. Using the allocated funds, schools were able to curate their own collections that meet the diverse needs of their unique school communities.

We “used the diversity fund to ensure all our students are represented in what they have available to read on their own time as well as in the classroom.” – Stacy Mitchell, Vice-Principal, Gulf Islands Secondary School

School staff, many in partnership with school PACs and community stakeholders, acquired books and other resources that reflect a broad spectrum of diversity topics. Students and staff now have greater access to read and learn about anti-racism, BIPOC, LGBTQ2S+, First Nations and other Indigenous Peoples, sexual orientations and gender identity, cultures, religions, ethnicities, physical diversities, neurodivergence, diverse abilities, and beyond. Fiction, reference books, textbooks, and other non-fiction resources are being catalogued and shelved, ready to be signed out. Staff can also access the new materials to support their own learning or lesson planning as part of the B.C. K to 12 curriculum. SSE students reading diversity booksSSE students enjoying their new library books

“We are very grateful for these funds as books that reflect all of our students are extremely important to us at SSE.” – Shelly Johnson, Principal, Salt Spring Elementary School

The district will continue to invest in the ongoing and important work of equity and anti-racism. This year, $30,000 has been allocated to provide teachers and school administrator with three years of access to online resources intended to broaden awareness and build capacity across the district. The digital toolkits include activities, scenarios/cases, response guidelines, classroom strategies, surveys, and curriculum integrations designed to support staff in their work in Equity, Diversity, and Anti-Racism. 

Libraries are central to a healthy school environment, spaces where students can find themselves reflected in the stories and information they read and study. With more diversity in what is available to them, our students will be better prepared to navigate the world now and in their future life and work.

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