Equity & Diversity

Friday Reading Roundup: Library Challenges, Kid-Lit’s Diversity Problem, and an Amazon Backlash

By Mary Hendrie — April 18, 2014 1 min read
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As the week winds down, dive into some of the recent literary discussions you might have missed.

National Library Week

This week is National Library Week, inspiring a lot of library-love around the web. Coinciding with the occasion, the American Library Association released this week their annual “State of America’s the Libraries Report.” In addition to offering a fascinating list of the books most likely to be targeted for removal from libraries, the report notes that challenges to intellectual freedoms were not limited to books, with ethnic-studies programs and unfiltered library internet access also under siege. School libraries face especially difficult challenges, both in the form of censorship and funding cuts. “On one hand, budget and testing pressures have led to decisions to eliminate or deprofessionalize school libraries,” writes ALA president Barbara K. Stripling in the report. “On the other hand, the increased emphasis on college and career readiness and the integration of technology have opened an unprecedented door to school librarian leadership.”

Diversity in Kid Lit

The discussion over the distinct lack of diversity in children’s and Young Adult books continue this week, though not, as a Book Riot blog post asserts, on the national platform this issue deserves. In “We Need Bigger Megaphones for Diversity in Kid Lit,” blogger Kelly Jensen challenges prominent (predominately white, male) authors to draw attention to this underrepresentation. The post also compiles 16 news stories and blog posts covering diversity in children’s books from around the web.

Bad Press for Amazon

Some in the literary world are enjoying a spot of schadenfreude this week at the expense of Amazon, a company that has long been accused of slowly killing the publishing industry. A recent article in The New York Times describing how many current and former Amazon employees embrace the Seattle indie bookstore scene has been met with glee by at least one disgruntled publishing house.

For those not flocking to Amazon’s brick-and-mortar completion, the online behemoth’s recommendation engine can do more than suggest a next great, cut-rate read. According to The Atlantic‘s “The (Unintentional) Amazon Guide to Dealing Drugs,” the company’s purchase-recommendation algorithm may be helping Walter White-wannabes flesh out their drug-dealing starter kits.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the BookMarks blog.