Children's Literature & Equity Resource Center (CLERC)

COCC’s equity-centered book collection opens perspectives for rising educators 

In the Barber Library on the COCC Bend campus, the Children’s Literature & Equity Resource Center, or CLERC, is a sunny reading room built around an extensive collection of equity-focused children’s books. With comfy chairs and couches, the space is welcoming and culturally embracing, and is open to all educators, students, and the public.  
The collection includes picture books, board books, and young adult literature, reflecting the rich diversity of world experiences and cultures, and covers a variety of subject areas including STEM, the arts, literature, and social issues. Smaller, similar collections are available at COCC’s Redmond and Madras campuses. In all, students have access to some 2,200 titles, and the collection is one of the largest of its kind in the state.  

Teacher reading a book in front of the entrance to COCC's Children's Literature & Equity Resource Center (CLERC)

Photo courtesy of Dean Guernsey / The Bulletin

“To serve a child, we have to think about that broader family cultural context — all the time,” says Amy Howell, Ph.D., Education program director and professor of Early Childhood Education, who helped co-found the resource center. 
CLERC grew from a shared commitment between the Barber Library, the College’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and the Early Childhood Education program to support developing educators’ understanding of equity and inclusion. 
Beyond its main purpose of presenting a culturally responsive book collection for students of the Early Childhood Education program, CLERC is also utilized by COCC students in a range of other programs, from Nursing to Fire Science. Entire classes will come in and read children’s books as a group, delving into topics of culture and perspective, even grief and death, discussing the content afterward. The literary lens helps shape new mindfulness and community awareness for future health care and front-line workers.