Friday, July 26th, 2019

TinyCat’s July Library of the Month: The Children’s Diversity and Justice Library

To read more about TinyCat’s Library of the Month feature, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

Teaching children the value of diversity and social justice is so important, and our next Library of the Month helps to educate our youth with such values through their community library—the Children’s Diversity and Justice Library.

Co-founded with Catherine Farmer Loya, Miriam Davis was kind enough to field my questions about the library:

First, what is your library, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”?

The Children’s Diversity and Justice Library is a free community library rooted in values of equity, justice and compassion that empowers young people to celebrate diversity and use their voices for social change. We provide books and programs featuring under-represented identities that demonstrate diverse individuals, including children, who raise up justice in our world.

This all volunteer run library hosted by the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee is organized around 12 diversity and justice elements: African American, Bodies and Abilities, Diversity, Gender, Families, Latinx, Justice, LGBTQ+, Cultures and Traditions, Refugees and Immigrants, Religion, and Women and Girls.

Tell us some interesting ways you support your community.

We provide a constantly growing collection of nearly 1000 books (to date), all authored by people who identify as a member of one of the twelve diversity and justice communities (or topically related to these elements). We also host programming such as thematic story times and related service projects including a Native Voices story hour, Celebrating the Stories of Refugees and Immigrants, and the east Tennessee event for the Human Rights Campaign’s “I Am Jazz” National Community Book Event. We look forward to hosting a Not My Idea discussion with older elementary and middle school youth concerning white privilege and the challenges of living within systemic white supremacy.

In June, we took about a third of our library with us to Knoxville’s Children’s Festival of Reading where we set up an inviting shady space for community members to flop down with their favorite diversity and justice read or browse new ones. We were happy to see how well received and enjoyed the library was during the festival and how many new patron accounts were set up that day. At the festival, we also debuted our adult “Parenting and Educating for Social Justice and Diversity Awareness” collection. Through our social media presence and online catalog, we also provide information and resources for anyone interested in diversifying children’s literature choices and availability.

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?

We are particularly happy to offer books in our collection that are not easily available locally through our school or public libraries and bookstores, or that are hot off the presses and don’t have the wait lists that can develop at our local public libraries. For example, we have made a point to purchase all the Flamingo Rampant* collections (screenshot left) as well as many just published award winning titles as we can.

*Flamingo Rampant is a micropress that produces feminist, racially diverse, LGBTQ positive children’s books. Their stories and illustrations are wonderful and always reflect the true diversity of children’s lived experience within their pages. They have been well received by our audience and are among our most popular titles.

What’s a particular challenge you experience as a small library?

We are limited in that we are entirely volunteer run and donation dependent while committed to making sure our collection is available, usable, and free. We use LibraryThing and TinyCat to create a self-serve library through which people with library accounts can check out books themselves online. However, with no gate keeper or security system in the physical library, one of our biggest fears is that our books will simply walk off the shelves never to be returned. (So far, we have been lucky in that our users support our mission and understand our limitations. We have only lost a few books in the nine months we’ve been operating.)

What’s your favorite thing about TinyCat? Anything you’d love to add?

TinyCat is what has allowed us to operate as well as we have with no staff because we have set it up so that patrons can request accounts electronically and check out books to themselves. The fact that it is a true OPAC also increases our reach greatly.

Given our circumstances, we’d love an automatic due date reminder system via email or text. Having an automatic feature would save us a lot of time and probably ensure more of our materials return on time.

I hear you—emailed, automatic checkout reminders and overdue notices is a common request from our libraries, and it’s something that we’re hoping to add sooner than later. We’ll be sure to announce if/when anything changes on that front, so stay tuned!

Want to learn more about The Children’s Diversity and Justice Library? Visit their website here, like them on Facebook here, and be sure to explore their library on TinyCat.

To read up on TinyCat’s previous Libraries of the Month, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

Calling all TinyCat libraries: become TinyCat’s next Library of the Month—just send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat


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