A Special Spot: The Diversity Reading Room

by Nancy Lilley


Marian Wright Edelman wrote, “Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.”

The recently renovated and opened Diversity Reading Room at the 909 location of the YWCA Gettysburg & Adams County will serve as a hub for educating the young and old and all between. It is the hope of the Nair-Makkenchery family who sponsored the renovation that it will provide a quiet space for all who might seek a deeper understanding of others – and themselves. The space which was designed pro bono by interior designer Antonio Rinaldi features comfortable seating, walls that are semi-filled with diversity images, and shelves that are semi-filled with books on a variety of diversity topics.

The space is also available for rental for very small group gatherings of 8-10 people. For information and to reserve this space, please contact the Front Desk, at 717-334-9171, ext. 0.

But the YWCA and the Diversity Reading Room can use your help in other ways.

One project idea that Rinaldi left us with was a collage that would feature textiles from a variety of countries. We hope to gather textiles samples from a variety of countries to create this collage. If you have a small textile sample of a country you have visited or know about in some way, please bring it to the YWCA Front Desk, attention Nancy. Be sure to label the country it represents. And, if anyone reading this is feeling inspired to put together this collage, please, please contact Nancy. (I think Antonio overestimated my artistic talents – way over-estimated.)

However, the most important way you can help with this initiative is to help us fill those shelves. This space will act as an on-your-honor library, with books labeled as YWCA property. A select group of books for loan are available from the Advocacy Director and are listed on a small poster in the room. Readers will be asked to return the books after reading or read in the space. But we need books! The main categories for which we are collecting are (as of now): Children’s books on diversity, novels featuring other cultures & countries, cookbooks featuring the cuisine of other cultures & countries, nonfiction books featuring empowered women, and nonfiction books featuring anti-racism topics. The overriding topic should be to support our YWCA mission of “empowering women, eliminating racism, and promoting freedom, peace, justice and dignity for all.”

Books can also be donated in honor of or in memory of someone. And just as a side note, Mother’s Day is May 10. This would be the perfect way, in my opinion, to honor that special mom, aunt, grandmother, mother figure, or mentor, who always answers with, “I don’t want anything” when asked what she would like for a Mother’s Day gift. A book label with that person’s name will be placed on the book’s cover. A note will also be sent as applicable to the honoree.

If you would like to see a list of suggested books, please check here – or check out one of these lists:




And, I close with the words of Dr. Seuss, “The more that you read, the more things that you will know, the more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”


Nancy Lilley is Advocacy Director at YWCA Gettysburg & Adams County.




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