The Walla Walla University Peterson Memorial Library received a $10,000 grant from the Washington State Library. The grant will provide updated literature and resources to support student research on diversity and belonging.
This grant is supported with ARPA funding provided by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services administered by the Library Services and Technology Act, through the Washington State Library, a division of the Office of the Secretary of State.
In addition to supporting updates to the library's collection, a portion of the grant was used to host book discussion groups. Cheris Current, director of the Donald Blake Center (DBC) and professor of social work and sociology, said of the groups, “Peterson Memorial Library, in partnership with the university’s Donald Blake Center, would like to build bridges with our underrepresented students and community members. We will do this by hosting read-along book discussion groups designed to build engagement through shared inquiry.”
The book selected for the readings was “Living Beyond Borders: Stories About Growing Up Mexican in America/Más Allá De La Frontera,” edited by Margarita Longoria. The book highlighted and extended the focus of this year’s Blake Center conference, “Race and Belonging: Latinx Experiences in the PNW.”
The book discussion was facilitated in early May by professor of languages, Alma Alfaro. She led it in English and Spanish, which increased participation and multilingual engagement with the topic. According to Carolyn Gaskell, director of libraries, “Alma’s ability to respond to the participants in both English and Spanish was crucial to making the event a success.”
Also present to support the discussion and provide connections to faculty and staff were Beverly Roper-Archer, assistant to the chief diversity officer; Gaskell; and Current.
A week after the discussion group, the book’s editor gave a virtual presentation on the book and provided a question and answer session. Gaskell noted “I was especially struck by a participant’s comment that of the six book clubs to which she belonged, this was the only one where the authors of the short stories had last names similar to her own. That participants felt a sense of connection and belonging epitomized the purpose for the grant and book choice.”
Posted June 14, 2022