Petoskey District Library Partners With McLean & Eakin Booksellers to Diversify Book Collection

Racial inequities have come to the forefront of the national conversation over the last few weeks. Xavier Web Pic

They can often be tough conversations to have, but a Northern Michigan library is hoping books can help.

The Petoskey District Library is working a local bookstore to diversify their collection of over 70,000 books.

“We want something for everyone here,” said Val Meyerson, Petoskey District Library Director.  “We don’t care what your views are, we don’t care what your politics are, we want to get people in the door reading, talking and communicating.”

That’s why last year the Petoskey Public Library set a goal in diversifying their collection.

Meyerson says the recent events in the world made that goal even more important.

“We really feel like the library should be a great place for people to seek understanding,” Meyerson said. “One way white people can really help and have a better understanding of racial inequities is to read books by and about people of color.”

The goal is to provide books that act as “mirrors” and “windows” to the world.

“Anyone should be able to come in, find a book that acts as a mirror, that they see themselves and their own lives in and they should also be able to find a book that would be a window out in the greater world,” Meyerson said.

To make it happen, they turned to their local bookstore McLean and Eakin Booksellers.

“We love working with the library and they came up with this idea and said is this something we could work together on and we said absolutely all we have to do is figure out what you want,” said Jessilynn Norcross, one of the store’s owners.

The library created a wish list of books. People can go online and purchase from the list to donate to the library.

“Every single day we’ve had multiple orders for children books and adult books from the list,” Norcross said.

And the demand for these books is widespread.

“They were completely out of stock nationwide, you couldn’t get them anywhere,” Norcross said.

They say books are a unique, introspective way we can learn and grow.

“There are a lot of things you can read on a page that will resonate more with you than if someone tries to tell you something about yourself,” Norcross said.

The library is hoping these books will spark conversations throughout the community.

“I think it’s so important with racial justice and really creating a just world, you have to talk and you have to communicate with people, and what a better way to stay than with a book,” Meyerson said.

To see the Petoskey District Library’s diversity wish list, click here.

To see McLean and Eakin Booksellers anit-racism reading lists, click here.

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