November 22, 2022

Shawnee State University’s Clark Memorial Library (CML) recently secured a grant through the Library Services & Technology Act for Celebrating Ohio Book Awards & Authors (COBAA). Using the funds to purchase children’s and young adult books addressing the topics of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the library partnered with the university’s School of Education to provide additional information on the subject.

books and signs on a shelf in library

“When this grant became available, Library Director Suzanne Johnson-Varney and I saw it as a way to increase our Children’s and Young Adult literature collection and enhance our collection related to issues of DEI,” said Marla Beebe, CML Research & Instruction Librarian. “Detailing how we would promote the materials we ordered was part of the grant request. Since most of the titles are children’s and YA literature, I thought partnering with Teacher Education students would be a way to increase awareness of these books and put the books in the hands of our future teachers.”

Partnering with Sandra Beam, SSU Literacy Professor, and her Teaching Phonics course, groups of students created book displays for the library to further discuss the topics featured in the new book collection.

“I hope patrons of the library have enjoyed the displays and have considered reading some of the new DEI titles,” said Beam. “Marla and I hope to continue this partnership between the library and the School of Education into future semesters.”

Helping students understand how these books can be incorporated into their future classrooms, both Bebee and Beam are hoping the students enjoyed the opportunity to think creatively while exploring how this literature can support learning outcomes.

“Sandi and I talked about how this can best serve her students and, at the same time, help the library promote these parts of our collection,” said Beebe. “The first two groups focused on an overall diversity theme. Other groups will choose a focus on a specific award or topic. Each book displayed will have a synopsis and will highlight classroom applications.”

Students were given creative freedom to design displays in any way they chose, the one requirement being that they had to feature some of the new DEI literature.

“Perhaps if they think about the importance of these topics and consider how DEI can be incorporated in the K-12 classroom through these books, they would be more likely to use such books in their future classrooms,” said Beam. “I especially want future teachers to be aware of what a fantastic, and free, resource the library system can be for their planning, as well as gaining knowledge and passion for current social topics.”

To learn more about collections within the Clark Memorial Library at Shawnee State University, visit