New book collection highlights social justice and antiracism

New book collection highlights social justice and antiracism

May 25, 2022
Books That Matter logo

Faculty, staff, and student employees across the University Libraries came together to launch a new collection of books in the spring semester.  

Books That Matter, a print collection of more than 100 titles, is connected to the Libraries' commitment to support social justice and antiracism. The idea for the collection was sparked years ago during the early development of the Student Success District.  

Dean Shan Sutton initially wanted to showcase a print book collection published and curated by the University of Arizona Press, one of the Libraries’ nine departments and a leading publisher of books by Indigenous and Latinx writers and scholars. 

"While the Main Library has millions of print books on floors three to five, we also designed new furnishings on the renovated second floor to highlight a revolving selection of books in topical areas," said Sutton. "Starting with UA Press works that embody diversity, equity, and inclusion themes, students can check out and read books on subjects and issues they may not be familiar with." 

Once the Main Library renovations were completed, more space for the collection was available. More titles could be included.  

books on a shelf

“With the opening of the newly renovated second floor of Main Library in 2020, we wanted to highlight books that spoke to our values and our mission,” said Teresa Hazen, Collection Services department head. “The Books That Matter collection is very much in line with our intent and is important to showcase to our patrons.” 

Hazen and Cindy Elliott, Collection Management unit lead in Collection Services, collaborated with other faculty in the Student Learning & Engagement department, including Jennifer Nichols, director of CATalyst Studios, and Jeremiah Paschke-Wood, Learning & Student Success unit lead. Together, they began compiling a list of potential social justice titles to purchase.  

Collection Services worked with the Press to incorporate the publisher's newest offerings in a range of disciplines and topics that showcase its contributions to the campus and Southern Arizona communities. Other authors would be included in the collection as well. 

“University of Arizona Press titles highlight Indigenous and Latinx voices, as well as books that help us understand the borderlands region where we live,” said Kathryn Conrad, director of the University of Arizona Press. “The collection also features important research by University of Arizona faculty members.”  

Students have also been involved in the Books That Matter project, from selecting books to purchase and suggesting names for the new collection, to gathering feedback about the collection.  

Miranda Escobar worked as a library Peer Information Counselor in Learning & Student Success before graduating in May.  

“I believe that the collection has so much different input from different people that were involved,” said Escobar, who helped select titles to purchase. “As a result, there is such a wide variety of issues that are explored and so much to learn.”  

Elliott hopes that this collection will bring to light important issues and will continue to be a collaborative effort.  

“The goal is to have the bookshelves change over time and encourage students to be involved,” said Elliott. “We will also take recommendations from anyone who wants to add titles.”  

The project to create the collection is far from over. It’s possible that some of the work has just begun.  

Conrad points out that books are essential to community conversations.  

“They help us understand the histories that shape current issues and experience other ways of seeing the world,” said Conrad. “We hope that the Books That Matter project will make it easy for the campus community to explore new ideas and continue important conversations.” 

More information 

The Books That Matter Collection is located on the Main Library’s 2nd floor. All you need is your CatCard to check out any of the books.  

Contact Cindy Elliott to submit book titles you would like to see in the Books That Matter Collection.