viii Foreword business and leadership books by Black and minority authors. The combina- tion of my different avenues of work led me to start Library Social Capital, a consulting firm to assist with leadership and equity challenges in libraries. I worked as a high school librarian (media specialist) at a science, tech- nology, engineering, and math (STEM) magnet (low socioeconomic) school whose student population was 89 percent Black and 7 percent Hispanic, with the remainder white and Asian. The previous librarian retired after being in the position for 10 years. Circulation in the library was nonexis- tent outside of required checkouts from class assignments. The collection of 7,048 books was outdated, with an average age of 2004 in 2013. According to American Library Association (ALA) standards, a highly effective school library program should have a minimum of 15 to 20 books per child, and I had 4 books per child for the 1,626 student population.1 The newer books in the collection did not pique the interest of students that I served. I had a small population of students who enjoyed sci-fi and fantasy books, but I noticed a drastic gap in reading interest with the Black male students. Many of the students had never seen a younger Black librarian and constantly asked me questions regarding my “why” for being in the industry. My big- gest goal in this role was to change the culture and collection, introduce information literacy instruction, and address accessibility challenges. Stu- dents had limited access to the library outside of minimal class visits and were affected by the digital divide. I was, for many of the students, their introduction to reading for pleasure, developing information/digital literacy skills, and being offered an introduction to stories that they could relate to. Alongside these barriers was a new study by the often-cited 2014 study by Harvard economist Raj Chetty, which ranked Charlotte as the worst in the United States (50/50) for economic mobility.2 This means that if you were born into a family whose annual income is less than that of 80 percent of the population, you only have a 5.4 percent chance to make it out of poverty. I advocated to the principal for the students to have access to the library before school, during lunch, during the day, and after school. I shifted the culture my first year by surveying and asking students about their interests and avoiding conversations about checking out books. The surveys I cre- ated asked if students had previous library instruction, internet access at home, computers at home, a history with checking out books, and if they had books at home. I learned that over 80 percent of my students never had formal library instruction, had no Wi-Fi/technology access at home, and had not checked out books regularly since elementary school. Most students did not have books at home. My findings left me disheartened and at a loss, knowing some students were moving forward to college with limited knowl- edge of how to locate scholarly resources. I learned that students were interested in the sneaker culture, music industry, popular sci-fi, urban fiction, and books on entrepreneurship. My plan was to purchase books based on their interests. The district allotted
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