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COLUMBUS, Miss.--The Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access (IDEA) Committee has a new way to showcase the John C. Fant Memorial Library.

Amanda Clay Powers, professor and dean of Library Services, said the idea for the virtual book club developed from a brainstorming session during a committee meeting. The club fits with the mission of the library’s IDEA Committee: to create and sustain a diverse, non-discriminatory and accessible library. 

To select books, members of the committee research titles, mindful of the historical and cultural importance of each month and come to a consensus on the selection. The committee considers the availability of the books as an eBook to provide access to faculty, staff and students who are off-campus. The committee tries to select titles that reflect the message of each month.

“Fant Memorial Library has so many amazing titles,” Powers said. “The committee wanted to find a way to expand the impact of these additions and engage as many people on campus with them. We are excited to share the selections.”

The IDEA Committee’s Book Club will highlight some of the new titles in the library’s collection through a monthly Zoom discussion. In January, the club selected “Caste: The Origin of Our Discontents” by Isabel Wilkerson to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

To celebrate Black History Month in February, the club picked “Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation” by Octavia E. Butler, adapted by Damian Duffy. The discussion will be held at noon Feb. 24 via Zoom.

In March, the club will discuss “Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men” by Caroline Criado Perez to commemorate Women’s History in Month. 

In April, for Poetry Month, the club will discuss “The Tradition” by Jericho Brown. 

All titles are available at Fant Memorial Library. Each title is listed on the guide with links for access at:

“The selections are titles we feel and hope are timely and relatable to The W community,” Powers said. “We also prioritize ‘own voices’ titles -- meaning books whose author is writing about themes or communities that they experience themselves. For instance, for last October, which is LGBTQ History Month, we read and discussed John F. Marszalek’s “Coming Out of the Magnolia Closet.” He is a local author who documented experiences of same-sex couples in Mississippi, which is culturally relevant to our audience. We also were lucky to have him come to our event to speak and participate in a discussion with readers.”

Powers said the IDEA Committee would eventually love to include an author from The W, and that it is always looking for more ways to connect with experiences of faculty, staff and students. Suggestions for book club titles, authors or subjects can be submitted at:

“Not only do our events focus on discussing the books’ content and readers’ interpretations, they also allow time for participants to share their experiences in a safe space,” Powers said. “Creating an opportunity to engage with ideas, experiences and voices that we may not have heard before opens the door for meaningful discussions within our community.”

The IDEA committee members include Rachael Damms, Nichole Bonaventure-Larson (co-chair), Josh Herrick, Robin Holliman, Vic Jones, Makaila Offutt (co-chair), Powers and Elaine Walker.

The IDEA Committee Book Club meets once a month and is open to the campus community, alumni and the public. For more information, visit or go to to see the Committee’s other initiatives.

Feb. 1, 2021
Contact: Adam Minichino
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