New fund to help diversify library resources
A new fund for the University of Houston-Victoria Library will help bring an array of diverse literature for UHV, Victoria College and the Victoria community.
The Library Fund for Diversity Resources kicked off on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and will accept donations during February in honor of Black History Month. The fund was created to help bring more support to the library to purchase more literature about and written by people of color, LGBTQ people and more. These resources include printed books, audio books and electronic books.
“This is a great way to maximize support around our efforts to have a wide selection of books that cover all human experiences,” said Jaena Manson, UHV instruction and outreach librarian. “The UHV Library serves not only the UHV and VC communities, but Victoria and the surrounding area. By having even more diverse resources, our communities can check out literature that might speak to their own experiences.”
The idea to create the fund came when UHV employees joined the CommUNITY Book Club and were looking to create a list of locally available diversity literature. The book club, which is funded by the UHV Diversity and Race Task Force and is part of a collaboration with United Way of the Crossroads, the Center for Peace, Be Well Victoria Coalition and Victoria College, meets quarterly and selects books written by diverse authors and cover topics central to diversity.
After building a preliminary list of dozens of authors and award-winning literature, it was discovered that the UHV Library only had about half the titles. The fund will allow the library to enhance existing print resources and collect more online versions, said Rebecca Lake, UHV senior director of equal access and staff co-chair for the task force.
Since the fall, the book list has become more extensive, with more than 200 titles of nonfiction, fiction and poetry that are recommended by The King Center, other centers for diversity and inclusion, and national award-winning book lists. The books center around an array of topics, including memoirs, LGBTQ activism and racial inequities. Electronic formats of each book also are helpful to have in the library because of COVID-19 and are easier to share with library visitors. Off-campus access to electronic resources are limited to UHV and VC affiliates. However, electronic books have a higher cost than the printed versions.
“Now that the book list is quite extensive, it has given us an idea that there would need to be greater funding to make these books available to the community in different formats,” Lake said. “These books will be able to serve as a resource of information and interest to our community.”
To address this need, the task force is collaborating with UHV University Advancement to encourage donations. UHV employee donations are being matched dollar for dollar through the month of February in honor of Black History Month. Dow Chemical has also agreed to match their own employee donations for the fund.
“Our company is committed to taking action against systematic racism and has put in place Dow ACTs, a framework designed to address it and the inequality in our communities in which we live,” said Whitney Bolger, public affairs manager for Dow Seadrift Operations. “Teaming up with the University of Houston-Victoria for this Library Diversity Fund is an immediate way we can ACT and take the first steps to educating ourselves and our neighbors on black history and culture. We will match each dollar our employees donate toward the Library Diversity Fund now through Black History Month. We plan to pack the shelves in our local libraries with unrepresented topics and authors.”
Once the funds are available from the Library Fund for Diversity Resources, the library will begin purchasing titles, and interested patrons will be able to explore the titles through a library guide, Manson said.
“This is a great initiative to get more resources for everyone in our community, and I am grateful that the people at Dow Chemical also believe in this mission and our efforts to enhance our resources,” Manson said. “It is amazing to know that people support our initiatives and want to help put more resources in our library of our communities.”
To donate to the Library Fund for Diversity Resources online, go to www.uhvconnect.org. The UHV Library is located in UHV University Commons, 3006 N. Ben Wilson St. and is open to residents of Victoria and surrounding areas. To obtain a free UHV Library card, contact the library at 361-570-4166. For more information about the library, go to library.uhv.edu. To learn more about the UHV Diversity and Race Task Force, go to www.uhv.edu/president/diversity.
The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.