The college store supports the campus community in many ways. Klamath Community College Bookstore and Library partnered together to create and support a monthly Heritage Reading program. We recently spoke with Carly Gilder, Bookstore Manager, Klamath Community College Bookstore, to learn more about its Heritage Reading program and how it was successfully implemented.
“Our area in rural Oregon only has four bookstores in Klamath Falls. We in Oregon are called in the book/literacy industry a “book desert.” As a result, acquiring high-quality books for our community is very important. Thankfully, Klamath County has a robust library system,” Gilder said.
How did the Heritage Reading program start?
“The Heritage Reading program began with discussions in various groups on campus about celebrating multiple heritages through reading. It began in September 2022, starting with Hispanic Latino/a/x Heritage Month.
Extensive efforts and progress have been made toward honoring diversity at Klamath Community College. This was a chance to do more. We pursued funding to earmark the purchase of used books at a certain price point. Many students in our community have resource issues, so partnering with the library helped increase exposure for both locations and provided options for students to acquire books.
The KCC Librarian and I researched what the U.S. State Department uses to recognize heritage months, and what other colleges around the nation celebrate. From that list we created our Heritage Month calendar.
We ensure that the authors of the selected books are representative of the cultures being honored. Also, the selected books primarily focus on fun rather than histories that may or may not have been written by the cultures being celebrated. This was a growing process for us to find authors of books representative of the heritage that were engaging, relevant, and the right price-point for the bookstore and library, helping us develop a more well-rounded and representative selection.
We are constantly looking to see what we missed and how we can improve. Work like this is evolving and needs to be catered to the campus culture and community.”
What has the campus response been like?
“The response has been very positive. Students come into our store looking for the books they saw in promotional emails, or they sign up for a library card from the KCC Learning Resource Center. Through this program, we filled a meaningful void. It is within the realm of the work we already do and now we have a monthly acknowledgement of heritage months by the college in support of learning and celebration.”
What are the benefits to your store?
“The KCC Bookstore creates a monthly marketing campaign, allowing for fun research and expanding awareness about campus events rather than just the general rudimentary process of solely ordering textbooks. Additionally, the program has dynamically changed how the campus community sees the store environment. We are viewed as a more open and inclusive space. Our high school partners have also recognized us as an asset in providing a more well-rounded bookshelf.”
What advice would you give another store interested in starting a similar program?
“If other college bookstores would like to launch a similar program, they should determine how best they can partner with other efforts throughout campus. Figure out your budget, confirm guidelines, research your school’s current calendar and support it, or add to it. Lastly, market the celebration with intent and integrity.”