Chatham High School student Nishika Agarwal has started an Acceptance Library stationed at DRIP Coffee on Main Street in Chatham to promote tolerance of all diverse groups in literature.

Agarwal’s inspiration for the project comes from her own experiences. “As an Indian female, I myself have witnessed the lack of prominent representation in mainstream media. Therefore, I wanted to compile a large pile of books that showcase characters and story-lines of diverse backgrounds, easily accessible to anyone who may seek it,” she said.

The library includes literature centered around groups such as the LGBTQ+ community, racial/ethic groups, and individuals with chronic illness.

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Some highlighted books in the collection are: Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, This Star Won’t Go Out by Esther, Lori, and Wayne Earl, This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson, Legend by Marie Lu, This Little Trailblazer by Joan Holub, All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold, and Right Now by Jessica Olien.

By installing this “Acceptance Library,” people, especially children, have the opportunity to see themselves portrayed in literature no matter their background. “The library is for those looking to gain a greater understanding of the different people who make our community, and those wishing to gain more exposure to the beautiful diversity gifted to our planet,” Agarwal said.

“DRIP Coffee was happy to hear my vision, worked with me right away to entertain it, and overall was wonderful to work with. Best of all, the shop is located in the heart of Chatham, where adults, teens, and children all come to visit! The Acceptance Library can be found upon the counter-top in DRIP's second seating room.”

Customers can look at the collection of books and read about all different types of people while they sit and enjoy their coffee or snack, and books are to be returned upon leaving the store. The library includes works for all age groups. It is separated by section: one for young children and one for teens and young adults. Agarwal hopes to promote conversation about tolerance and acceptance at a young age through the library.

“By appealing to all age groups, we spread the message that tolerance has no age, and allow children to learn that everyone is special regardless of what makes them different.”

For more information about the library and book donations/borrows, visit the website at https://acceptancelibrary.wixsite.com/acceptancelibrary. The library can be contacted at acceptancelibrary@gmail.com.