My first goal was to purge the library and to create a space that said: you matter, your stories matter, in this space you can find your voice. I pretty much gutted the library. I brought in not only African American literature, but literature from around the globe because I know our children need to know there is a world beyond their boundaries. They need to know that other children who may at first seem different, have the same goals and dreams. They deserve to connect with the world.
Our community serves girls so our library is girl-focused. Today our collection is roughly 80% works written by women of color about people of color. You may think that is exceptionally high but outside of our walls, our girls live a practically invisible existence. They get the spotlight only when someone wants to do an exposé on the unfortunate and oppressed, but our girls rarely see themselves in the media and arts as beautiful, bright, artistic, and living empowered lives. The Nicholson library celebrates who they are.
Children need to see positive images of themselves and alternate views of what their lives can be. They need to know how they are connected to others. Today our library provides that connection. If you want to address issues of racism, you must address the issue of racial and cultural celebration. We do that at Color Online (the program I brought to the agency) and in our library, the unexpected gift I inherited.