The Upper Grand District School Board is in the process of reviewing its library collections for materials that may cause harm or trauma in its schools.
In an email, superintendent of education Brent McDonald said the board decided to reevaluate its catalogue this year to create a safe and inclusive learning and working environment for all students and staff.
He said the committee involved in doing the review includes "representation from staff with a variety of lived experiences."
“It is important to provide classroom resources that make students feel validated and supported and do not pose a high risk of causing trauma and harm,” said McDonald.
“Staff have been trained to look for resources through a critical and trauma-informed lens to ensure we are intentionally selecting materials that do not cause harm but instead are from an anti-oppressive, anti-racist, and anti-colonial stance,” he said.
“The focus of our work in reviewing library collections is to ensure that our school libraries and learning commons contain a rich collection of titles, by diverse authors, with characters and storylines that feature a range of lived experiences, including diversity in race and cultures, gender and gender identities, and abilities.” said McDonald.
He added that the materials provided in classrooms play a significant role in the learning environment and send a strong message to students.
McDonald said selecting the books is an ongoing process and includes the removal of materials that are either no longer appropriate or are outdated.
McDonald said teachers and librarians in the board review collections annually to ensure that they are relevant, accurate and inviting for students to read, however, this year, schools were offered additional funding to purchase resources and books that are culturally responsive and relevant to students.
The Waterloo Region District School Board is also currently reviewing its library catalogue for books that may be inappropriate for students.
“As an educational community, we have a responsibility to identify and describe racism and oppression and then work to dismantle it as part of our work in anti-racism, anti-oppression and anti-colonialism,” said McDonald.
“As a school board, we have a responsibility to ensure a robust, rich, relevant, selection of resources for students to choose from to read. This work is part of our commitments within the UGDSB equity plan.”
He said schools were also provided with resources and links to book supplies to help with purchasing resources that are culturally relevant, responsive and reflect the diversity of students.
Teachers and librarians also look at circulation data annually to make decisions about deselecting resources (such as a book that was not signed out for many years).