WILMINGTON, MA — At last month’s Wilmington School Committee meeting, Assistant Superintendent Christine Elliott announced that the district recently purchased 2,500 books to support PreK-8 libraries and the High School English Department after receiving a $40,000 donation from the International Family Church in North Reading this past December.
“To determine how this funding could best enhance school book collections, an audit was conducted,” explained K-12 Library Coordinator Heather Peachey and Elementary Literary Coordinator Holly Banusciewicz in a memo to the School Committee. “The results showed that only 33% of our PK-8 library book collections contained diverse topics, and it was clear that using the funding to increase diverse representation would be most beneficial. Books are mirrors and doors, helping one see their own story portrayed within the lines of a book and also to journey into someone else’s experience in the world. Representation matters.”
Based on the audit findings, books were purchased in the following categories:
- Diverse families
- Discrimination and prejudice
- African Americans
- Diverse folklore
- Gender studies
- Physical disabilities and special needs
- Racial discrimination
- Diverse mythology (from other countries)
- Women’s studies
- Holidays and Traditions from diverse cultures
“To ensure equity in accessibility, all books purchased will be cataloged and housed in school-based libraries, with the exception of books purchased for the high school English Department,” writes Peachey and Banusciewicz. “This will allow all students and staff to browse or electronically search these titles to borrow and enjoy.”
All 2,500 books, which are are expected to be delivered over the summer, should be ready to be borrowed on the first day of school.
Elliott praised Peachy and Banusciezwicz for spearheading this project.
“I would like to thank them for the many hours of work they did to thoughtfully and thoroughly audit current collections in the district and select texts that will enrich the lives of all students in grades PreK-12,” said Elliott.
School Committee member Jay Samaha also praised both educators.
“This is a fantastic move. This is us heading in the right direction. Even the process to get to this point — to recognize that we might have a problem here, to look at the data, and then make a decision. I’m very, very happy to see this,” he said.
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