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Bringing more diverse books into school libraries

District Technical Services Librarian, Rae Ciciora, had a goal last year: to increase the diversity of characters and authors represented on Sora, the ebook library available to all staff and students (except charter schools). She wanted to ensure that all students could see themselves represented in stories at school.

Ciciora published a collection on SORA called “#Weneeddiversebooks” (now renamed to “Authentic voices.”) She also applied for a grant from CDE' State Library for titles to broaden the collection of diverse authors as well as audiobooks available. 

The district received a grant of $9,000 which allowed a total of 419 new titles to be added to the e-book and audiobook collection.

“I included anti-racism, diverse authors and characters, and made an effort to increase our Native and First Nations representation. I am thrilled to report that last year 83% of those titles had been checked out at least once,” shares Ciciora. 

Ciciora has also taken advantage of several free collections offered by publishers, curated and featured in Sora. There is a Chinese language collection donated by the National Chinese Language Conference, available through May 2022 with 55 books in Chinese. Additionally, there is a Spanish Language simultaneous use collection with 91 ebooks and 10 audiobooks, donated by OverDrive. This collection is called ¡Sin espera! libros en español and is available through August 2022. 

Looking ahead, Ciciora has applied for a different grant in the hopes of creating a larger collection of audiobooks. The goal of increasing the selection of audiobooks is to allow a greater number of students access to the books on Sora, specifically, English language learners and students with reading barriers. The total number of audiobook titles on Sora is now over 1,200.

Hispanic Heritage month book display

Ciciora is working to highlight a diversity collection as frequently as she can on Sora, with Black History, Women's History, Trans Day of Visibility, Pride month, Asian American month, Jewish Heritage, Cinco de Mayo, etc. 

The school Teacher-Librarians carry forward this work on diverse books by setting up physical book displays in school libraries to celebrate the different diversity months. They also guide students to accessing books on the Sora platform.

BVSD students can access books on Sora by going to my.bvsd.org and clicking on the Sora icon