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State association recognizes librarian’s commitment to education and diversity

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Kathleen Rauth, the media specialist at Center for Inquiry 2 in Indianapolis Public Schools, spends a good amount of time both online and in librarian communities searching for a wide variety of authors. Not only have these efforts led to a diverse selection of books in Rauth’s library, but it also connects children of color with characters and authors that hit closer to their experience.

“It’s not just about putting the books on the shelves,” Andrea Hunley, principal at CFI 2, said. “It’s about putting a mindset throughout our entire community, and that is something that Mrs. Rauth has really done. The books are a conduit or a way for her to get this message of the importance of inclusivity and diversity. 

“When kids of all shades and of all backgrounds can see themselves in the pages, then they feel like their voices are heard in the classroom, and they feel important,” Hunley continued. “And when a child feels important, then they believe that they can do anything.”

For her dedication to diversity and literacy in general, Rauth received the 2018 Indiana Library Federation Outstanding Librarian Award, which recognizes innovation and excellence in leadership and service to the librarian profession. Rauth’s 31-year educational career has spanned Illinois, California and Indiana.

“I feel like I just do the work that everyone does … I don’t know why I was the one who was selected,” Rauth said. “I sent in an application because I want the work of school librarians in this state to be recognized.”

Rauth said she enjoys helping children “who have not had positive experiences with imagery in books” and handing them books “that really empower them as readers.”

“Kathleen was the IPS Teacher of the Year last year, the first school librarian to achieve such a feat (that we know of),” Carrie Cline Black, IPS media relations coordinator, said via email. “She was chosen primarily because of her commitment to cultural diversity in literacy.”

Rauth also brings themes of diversity to adults as well. She serves on the IPS diversity cadre and provides both in-service training and workshops on multicultural literature. 

“Adults are drawn to Mrs. Rauth, so she’s not only a teacher of children, but she’s a teacher of adults,” Hunley said.

In addition, Rauth is incredibly vocal in defending her vocation. Only 25 percent of Indiana students have access to a certified school librarian. Rauth believes this number is much too low, especially considering this is the information age. 

“The fact that we have electronic media does not mean that you stop needing librarians,” Rauth said. “In fact, it’s the opposite of that. The more information kids have access to, the more they need to learn how to interact with that information.”

 

Contact staff writer Ben Lashar at 317-762-7848. Follow him on Twitter @BenjaminLashar.

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