Equity in Library Programming and Services

A guest post by Emily Weak, Linda Steward and Monica Chapa Domercq, Equity Advisors

What we’ve learned so far: Common Issues Bringing Equity into the Practice of Library Programming and Services:

Under the statewide Networking California Resources, the California State Library, along with the Pacific Library Partnership (PLP), formed a small team of three equity advisors in late summer of 2023. This team was formed in response to the goals of the California State Library’s 2023-2027 Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) Investment Plan, in order to provide assistance to library staff working on LSTA funded grants. The team is Linda Stewart, Monica Chapa Domercq, and Emily Weak. So far, the Equity Advisor team has worked with 23 libraries, co-designing a framework to help grantees keep equity considerations at the forefront of their work. Advisors facilitate reflection, act as a second pair of eyes to find barriers to community participation, and provide additional resources such connections with other library staff, articles, books, and training.

While many libraries have already had at least an introduction to equity principles, moving this theory into practice is a fundamental step that benefits from reflection and support. There are a few themes which we, the Equity Advisor team, have already recognized as recurring. In this post, we will share a few resources to address common issues bringing equity into the practice of library programming and services.

Linda: It has been an exciting eight months working with grantees as they seek to address the information needs of underserved populations within their communities.  What I personally have found most interesting is the variety of these projects—teen leadership, enhanced services for seniors and especially those with cognitive issues, a memory lab that is being developed to provide the tools for Filipino as well as LGBTQ community members to document their respective histories, and the list goes on… What these programs share is a growing understanding that strategies like co-design and addressing social justice require patience and time, likely more than expected.  It is because of this that as advisors we would encourage you to embrace the small steps; forward movement toward diversity, equity and inclusion is the goal.   

For those libraries that are adding materials to your collections, an issue that many libraries are encountering today is how to ensure that we create records that are culturally sensitive.  While there has been much written about this issue, I’d like to suggest checking out the new series of web-based training courses being offered through the Digital Public Library of America.  Titled “Practical Approaches to Reparative Description” the series was designed for those engaged in remediating potentially outdated or harmful language used in the past.  However, many recommendations are applicable to the creation of new records as well. 

While the series began on April 18 with “Representations of Gender and Sexuality in Metadata,” these are being recorded.

Monica: I have been personally fulfilled by working as an Equity Advisor with several libraries whose grant projects have equity and inclusion as their focus. These libraries are working to initiate or deepen relationships and programming with underserved and marginalized populations such as the Mixtecos (indigenous people from Mexico with a non-written dialect), children and teens with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Farsi, Punjabi, and Spanish speaking community members, communities that are geographically isolated, and people who are housing insecure. These projects affirm that for California libraries, serving the whole community is non-negotiable. To learn more about how it is the responsibility of government to make sure that “all who live in a library’s jurisdiction” benefit from its services, reference the training “Advancing Racial Equity in Your Library” by Race Forward and the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE). You can find this and other great resources on the California State Library’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion resource page. 

One of the common issues with bringing equity into the practice of library programming is in establishing relationships with communities that may be distrustful of government organizations or may not have any expectations or reference about the services a California public library provides (or both). While many librarians intuitively know what good community engagement entails, I’ve found that the Building Authentic Relationships with Underserved Communities training (available as an archived webinar), delivered by Dr. Audrey Barbakoff, Amita Lonial and Mia Henry, lays the foundation for taking intentional steps to building or rebuilding trust with the community.

The training describes how Asset Based Community Development can be a pathway to co-creation. Its engagement strategies entail sharing power, asking for input, and favoring collaboration and empowerment over informing. Barbakoff has also authored a helpful article about the principles and application of Asset Based Community Development (free on Webjunction), if you are interested in learning more.

These projects are commitments to the populations with which they are engaging. As Linda said, these projects will require time! We encourage library staff to realize it’s okay to be flexible, to change courses in response to what works and what doesn’t, to give yourselves grace, and to practice self-care! 

Emily: As Linda and Monica have mentioned, the most common issue I have seen in my eight months as an Equity Advisor is lack of time. Equity work is built on relationships and reflection, and both of those take time. They are also often not easily measurable, and they don’t necessarily provide clear and abundant outputs that you can hold up to people like your boss, your city council, and your grant funders.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this issue. It is systemic in public libraries. We are service professionals, and we are used to being asked to do more with less (by the way, if you have never read Vocational Awe and Librarianship: The Lies We Tell Ourselves  by Fobazi Ettarh, you should do so ASAP).  Sometimes taking the time for equity work, including the time for your own professional development, means clearly articulating and grounding a commitment to equity work as valuable in principle, rather than in output. And sometimes it means letting other projects go. Both can be difficult, especially working in a publicly funded institution with many stakeholders.

I have been reading about the principles of Slow Librarianship and thinking about how this might hold some keys to shifting our practices. You might find this post by Meredith Farkas interesting: What is Slow Librarianship? 

I’ve also just finished reading Emergent Strategy, Shaping Change, Changing Worlds by adrienne maree brown. In it she says, “I love the idea of shifting from ‘mile wide inch deep’ movements to ‘inch wide mile deep’ movements that schism the existing paradigm.” We are working towards change, and this change deserves your time and your attention. The path towards “enough time” or even “an abundance of time” will be different for each person. But it’s time to get on the path.


Self-Care and Career Development

The term self-care is thrown around a lot, but nailing down what it means can be complicated. In my mind there’s personal self-care and professional self-care. They both help recharge your battery, but for me personal self-care is something like taking a much-needed nap, visiting friends, or just making time for a hobby. Professional self-care, on the other hand, makes me think of professional development or training. These are the types of things that give me the tools to be more successful in my career, which build my confidence in handling tough situations, and help me find happiness and satisfaction in my work.

On Tuesday, February 20th at 10:00 am CALL will be hosting a webinar called, Career Development in Libraries: Supercharging Your Library Career, presented by Sonia Alcántara-Antoine, PLA President. This is a wonderful professional self-care opportunity. Sonia will be speaking about how to actively develop your career and position yourself for success and growth. She will also talk about finding mentors and how to network.

So if you’ve been feeling stuck in your career, curious about moving into other positions within the library, or looking for a way to connect with others in the field be sure to register for this webinar. Come ready to learn from Sonia, an incredible library leader, and join what’s sure to be a lively and fun discussion.

See you there!


TeachingBooks for California Public Library Staff

A guest post by Robyn McCreight, California State Library

TeachingBooks for Libraries is a collection of digital resources created and curated for the purpose of engaging children and teens with the books they are reading. Your access is directed by the California State Library’s COMPASS program and provided with ongoing state education funds, so there’s no expected end date for the program and local library access to TeachingBooks for Libraries.

The following 30-minute webinars will be held live online for registered participants. All registrants will receive a recording to watch at their convenience. Please contact Deborah Salyer,, for more information. Please contact if you need assistance with registration.

2024 Webinar Series

January | Prepare for Summer Reading with TeachingBooks

Find new inspiration and discover how your state-funded access to TeachingBooks resources can be easily integrated into your summer reading program. Locate lists of themed summer reading titles, whether you’re using CSLP or iRead. Designing your own program? Use TeachingBooks to create unique lists and discover how to find, share, and incorporate Meet-the-Author recordings, book trailers, and activity kits to enrich the summer reading experience.

Funding provided by the State of California for education at the direction of the California State Library.

When: January 18, 2024, at 2:00 PM Pacific
Audience: Public Library Staff
View Recording in CALL Academy

February | TeachingBooks 101 – Search, Save, and Share

Engage your readers, create lists for your programming, and promote literacy with your children and teens, parents, and community with resources from TeachingBooks. From titles you always use in your book clubs and programming to hot-off-the-press releases, there’s always something new at TeachingBooks, your state-funded library of digital literacy resources. 

Funding provided by the State of California for education at the direction of the California State Library.

  • When: February 14, 2024, at 11:00 AM Pacific
  • Audience: Public Library Staff
  • View Recording in CALL Academy

March | Enrich Your Programming with Resources that Engage your Children and Teens 

TeachingBooks resources can help make program planning quick and easy with materials to support storytimes, book clubs, and more. Explore the wide array of book guides, activity kits, and digital resources that will empower readers both at the library and at home. Find new program inspiration and incorporate ready-to-use materials into existing programs for children and teens.

Funding provided by the State of California for education at the direction of the California State Library.

  • When: March 28, 2024, at 2:00 PM Pacific
  • Audience: Public Library Staff
  • View Recording in CALL Academy

April | Big Impact, Small Changes: Analyzing Featured Titles with TeachingBooks

Gain insight into the titles you choose for displays, programming, and even collection development. Join the TeachingBooks Team to learn how the Collection Analysis Toolkit can assist when examining your children’s and young adult titles for genre, recency, and cultural classifications. Reflect together on your book promotion goals and the next steps to reach them. This session will show you the overview of the Collection Analysis Toolkit at TeachingBooks—far beyond reading levels and publication dates.

Funding provided by the State of California for education at the direction of the California State Library.

  • When: April 17, 2024, at 11:00 AM Pacific
  • Audience: Public Library Staff
  • View Recording in CALL Academy

May | Support Your Community with TeachingBooks Resources

Outreach to your community has never been easier with TeachingBooks tools for engagement. Discover how to share booklists and create printables for engaging children and teens with your books on display, on book mobiles, and in your programming. Looking for ways to support your public and home schoolers? This session is also for you! 

Funding provided by the State of California for education at the direction of the California State Library.

  • When: May 16, 2024, at 2:00 PM Pacific
  • Audience: Public Library Staff
  • View Recording in CALL Academy

Understanding Co-Design and Community Partnerships

Public libraries ideally work collaboratively to meet local needs and aspirations. Working WITH communities, instead of simply FOR them, can transform libraries and the communities they serve. That’s why the California State Library’s LSTA plan calls for co-design and community engagement. Whether or not you’re thinking of applying for a 2024-2025 LSTA grant, we highly encourage you to investigate what’s on CALL that will support your efforts. All trainings are available to California library workers free of charge through California Libraries Learn.

Connectors, Partners and Community Support: Preparing for LSTA Funding, a new one-hour CALL exclusive webinar on Thursday, February 8, at 10 a.m., will help you understand more about this community work. Instructor Cathay Reta will provide: 1) guidance to identify CALL courses to help you develop community connectors and partners, 2) direct instruction on addressing these connections for your grant proposal, and 3) a little inspiration on why it matters. CALL Academy offers a wealth of recorded information, including the courses The Partnership Project and Community-Centered Libraries, both of which provide great supporting materials along with recordings.

Interested in learning more about expanding your connections and developing co-design practices? Attend a webinar on Building Authentic Relationships with Underserved Communities, on Tuesday, January 30, at 11 a.m. A follow-up webinar from the same team, Co-Creating Library Services for Transformative Impact, takes place on Tuesday, February 27, at noon.

There’s more on co-design available now and starting soon. Get a jumpstart with this view-anytime CALL Academy recordings on Exploring Co-Design and Co-Design in Action from the Library Collective, which will also present a second live discussion on Exploring Co-Design just for California libraries on February 15 at 10 a.m. Library Journal offers a three-session course on How to Collaborate with Your Community to Co-Design Programs and Services, starting February 21.

Plus, don’t forget about the great webinars offered in January and February to help you put together a winning grant proposal. Check out the CALL blog post Getting Ready for Grant Season to learn more! If you’re interested in learning about data about your community, you might be interested in webinars and PolicyMap training from the Community-Centered Libraries series.


Seguimos Creando Enlaces Conference Takes a Break in 2024

Creando Logo

The Seguimos Creando Enlaces (Continuing to Create Connections) conference committee is taking 2024 off as a planning year. Creando, for short, is a free, binational conference, sponsored by CALL, that fosters community connections and cultural diversity in public, academic, and special libraries, bringing together libraries from both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border to share best practices and build more inclusive library spaces.

Creando will continue to create connections in 2024, as we offer virtual learning events in partnership with CALL.

Here are the Creando winter/spring learning events, and stay tuned for more enriching virtual programming to support library staff in serving Spanish-speaking communities throughout 2024!

A Model for Spanish Language Services – January 24, 2024

La Hora Virtual: How to Develop a Virtual Program to Promote Spanish Resources – February 7, 2024 (With our own Ana Villalpando from the Creando committee!)

Circulation Desk Spanish – March 20, 2024

Basic Spanish for Library Staff March 26 – April 22, 2024 (Limited seats available for this CALL-exclusive, high-demand course.)

Also, you can view these on-demand recordings of trainings focused on providing to services to Spanish speakers, on CALL Academy, after creating a free account:

Ideating Programming for Spanish Speakers

¡Canta Conmigo! : Ten New Songs for Bilingual Storytime

Bilingual Storytimes – The Basics

Do you have an idea? The Planning Committee is seeking to host ongoing virtual presentations that demonstrate how public, academic, and special libraries advocate for intellectual freedom and equitable programming and access. We are especially interested in highlighting innovative projects that include communities of color, immigrants, refugees, LGBTQIA+, Spanish speakers/ESL resources, digital equity or binational collaborations.

Format Examples:

  • Individual Presentation
  • Panel Presentation:
    Group of two-three library or community leaders answer questions from a moderator and share best practices related to the conference theme. Panelists will identify a moderator for their presentation.
  • Library & Community Partner Presentation:
    Group of two-three presenters share examples of projects co-created with library partners.

Submit a proposal

Flashback to 2023:

Our 11th Annual conference was back in person with 167 attendees at the San Diego Central Library on Friday, May 12th, 2023.  The conference theme was “Open Minds, Open Doors – Mentes y Puertas Abiertas”, and opened with a keynote presentation from beloved children’s author and illustrator Yuyi Morales, as well as featuring 2Spirit storyteller Juan Reynoso and numerous engaging Workshop sessions. Due to technical difficulties with Yuyi Morales’ virtual keynote presentation, “Tres Bibliotecas”, she graciously re-recorded it for us. Please watch below.


Unlocking Grant Success: California Rural and Small Libraries Webinar Series

A guest post by Stephanie Gerding

I’m thrilled to invite you to a unique opportunity. In this curated set of webinars, I’m excited to share my insights into library grant work aimed at empowering and guiding California’s rural and small libraries towards grant success. As a dedicated library grant writer, educator, and author, I’ve had the privilege of wearing multiple hats in the grant world – as an applicant, a funder, a project manager, an evaluator, and a consultant. I’ve even had the honor of reviewing grants for nonprofits and LSTA grants for state libraries.

Join Our Webinar Series for Grant Success

These webinars are designed to simplify the grant process and equip you with the tools and confidence needed for successful library grant funding. Grants offer more than just financial support; they foster valuable partnerships, address community needs, and garner increased community support.

Webinar Descriptions:

  1. Empowering Rural and Small Libraries: 10 Tips for Successful Library Grants
    Wednesday, January 10 | 10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. | 30-minute webinar
    Applying for grants doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Join me in this engaging session offering valuable insights and practical strategies for success in grant work. Let’s demystify the grant process and inspire you to approach grant work with enthusiasm and confidence.
  2. Rural and Small Library Grant Planning and Design
    Thursday, January 18 | 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. | One-hour webinar
    Gain an understanding of crucial factors in library grant work and be ready to initiate successful proposals. I’ll introduce you to the Winning Grants Planning Tool, a useful worksheet to aid you in designing a grant project and identifying necessary elements for a compelling proposal.
  3. Creating the Winning LSTA Grant Proposal for Rural and Small Libraries
    Thursday, February 1 | 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. | 90-minute webinar
    Discover what LSTA grant reviewers are looking for and gain the skills to bring clarity and professionalism to your grant proposals. This session includes a Q & A segment and a CA LSTA Grant Worksheet, invaluable for successful applications. Don’t miss this opportunity to interact, learn, and elevate your grant writing expertise.

I find grant work really exciting and interesting and I can’t wait to share my enthusiasm and knowledge with you. I hope you will join us in this webinar series.

See you online!


Getting Ready for Grant Season: Help Your Library Support Community Aspirations

The California State Library has recently announced that five funding opportunities will open in early January, with applications due no later than March 6. These grant programs, all funded by federal Library Services and Technology Act funds, include general Community Impact Grants as well as specific opportunities for Play for All (families and young children), Sustainable California Libraries (climate- and sustainability-focused, community-driven programming), Teens Succeed (focused on internships), and eBooks for All (building diverse and inclusive digital collections).

How can your library and staff better prepare for these opportunities? There are two important pieces: community engagement and grant proposal development. You’ll also want to register for the State Library’s information session at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, January 17, 2024.

First off, grant writing expert Stephanie Gerding will usher in the new year with five (count’ em!) California-exclusive sessions designed to help you start on the right foot.

Register now for one or both of two workshops on LSTA grant basics.

For rural and small libraries, or those brand new to grant writing, we are offering a three-part series with a brief recorded introduction to get you started: 

All of the grant proposals will also ask for a level of community engagement and co-design work with partners and community members. We highly encourage you to attend a webinar on Building Authentic Relationships with Underserved Communities, on Tuesday, January 30, at 11 a.m. Interested in learning more about co-design? Get a jumpstart with this view-anytime CALL Academy recording from the Library Collective or attend a three-session course from Library Journal starting February 21.


Being Grateful for Mentors



In November, many of us take a moment (or hopefully more) to think about what we are grateful for. Over the course of my library career, I have had many individuals who took the time to share their wisdom, expertise, and advice with me, and I am grateful for them. Some of those people were the first to encourage me to explore my love of learning and professional development by giving me the chance to travel across Illinois delivering training to library staff. Thirty years later, it is still my passion, and I still have mentors who encourage me.

Although we don’t always recognize or name it, most of us have had many mentors throughout our life. Being a mentor (or a mentee) comes naturally for some people, but being intentional about it is often the challenge.

On Tuesday, November 28 at noon California library staff have the opportunity to hear from Christine Kreger on the Foundations of Mentoring. If you have ever struggled with the logistics of a mentoring relationship (consistency, communication, goal setting, etc.) you will benefit from the practical and specific concepts in this presentation. You will leave knowing more about how to move forward with an intentional mentoring relationship, and how both the mentee and mentor can benefit. All participants will get a Foundations of Mentoring Workbook as part of their attendance.

So, in November when you are giving thanks for many things, don’t forget those who have officially or unofficially been a mentor for you. They didn’t have to do it, but they did, and you have benefited.

Christine Kreger is the Professional Development Consultant for the Colorado State Library and has been involved in leadership training and mentoring for over ten years, including acting as co-chair of the Colorado Association of Libraries Mentorship Interest Group.


Culturally Relevant Evaluation Cohort

Calling all library workers! Are you someone who:

  • Creates, implements, and/or evaluates your library’s public programming?
  • Works in outreach and/or community engagement?

This winter and spring, you have the opportunity to participate in a learning cohort of your peers from across the state. At no cost to you, you will learn how to engage members of your community in the creation and evaluation of your library’s programs and services. The Culturally Relevant Evaluation cohort will be led by Dr. Andrea Girón Mathern, the founder of Centrality Research.

By participating, you will:

  • gain knowledge and tools to conduct participatory evaluation – a process that engages community members in the design and evaluation of programs and services
  • develop skills in both quantitative and qualitative data collection methods that center the community
  • expand your awareness of approaches that are culturally responsive and relevant when gathering feedback from community members
  • connect with public library workers around the state engaged in similar work

To be considered for the cohort, please submit an application by Friday, December 1, 2023. To learn more about this opportunity and to apply, please visit the Culturally Relevant Evaluation webpage.

Community-Centered Libraries: Harnessing the Power of Data to Equitably Serve Your Community is brought to you by the California State Library and Pacific Library Partnership. Please contact Linda Hofschire (, the Community-Centered Libraries Project Manager, if you have any questions about the Community-Centered Libraries training opportunities.


WebJunction’s Supercharged Storytimes

Are you one of the more than 1,200 learners who’ve completed the Supercharged Storytimes course or are you brand new to it? This course includes more than 30 videos on topics like phonological awareness, vocabulary, involving parents and caregivers in storytimes, and building equitable relationships. It has been updated and improved to include downloadable video transcripts, as well as a separate index of all downloadable resources and handouts. You will need to create a free account to access this self-paced course, which can be started and stopped at any time, and should take approximately 10 hours total to complete.

You can also explore this new resource, Inclusive Collections for Supercharged Storytimes, to inform your efforts to curate diverse, inclusive collections for your storytime programs and help ensure that the children who participate experience a sense of belonging and can broaden their worldviews.

Supercharged Storytimes was developed with funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and OCLC.

Presented by: Saroj Ghoting, Early Literacy Instructor; Betha Gutsche, WebJunction Programs Manager; CiKeithia Pugh, Early Learning Program Manager at The Seattle Public Library; and Emily Plagman, Project Manager at Project Outcome, PLA.