Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Academic Libraries and Higher Education

Many library staff wear multiple hats. In addition to the work that we do at the UW Tacoma Library, we have a role collaborating with our Seattle and Bothell colleagues to create a seamless library experience for UW students and faculty, regardless of the campus they work on. In addition to this, we conduct research to better inform our practice and share findings in journals and conference presentations. Many of us also serve in professional associations connected to our work.

I have the extraordinary honor to serve as president of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL). As we share on our website:

The Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) is the higher education association for academic libraries and library workers. Representing more than 10,000 individuals and libraries, ACRL (a division of the American Library Association) develops programs, products, and services to help those working in academic and research libraries learn, innovate, and lead within the academic community.

As president, I selected a theme to pursue during my presidential term. The ACRL board had identified Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion to be our core commitment, and I selected organizational change in support of EDI as my presidential focus. I am working with an incredible volunteer committee to put on programming to help all academic libraries become more equitable, diverse, and inclusive.

In support of this work, we are putting on programs at our two major conferences, the recent Midwinter and upcoming Annual meetings of the American Library Association. In addition to this work, the committee has built out a blog to host content about Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and practical advice to consider in building better communities.

You might have seen an Inside Higher Ed article about racism at the Midwinter conference. This shouldn’t have happened, and there is an important conversation taking place within the field about the work we need to do. Another part of work my work in ACRL is collaborating with other ACRL leaders to identify structural changes we can make to build a more inclusive and equitable association.

Following the conference many of our professional organizations released statements responding to these events, including ACRL. Reading through the statements, it was notable that many specifically point to reallocating resources, specific changes they will make, and a call to action for members. We all have work to do to make the field more equitable, diverse, and inclusive, and it is good to see this shift towards action and resources.

I share this with you because it’s a way that we, at UW Tacoma, are influencing academic libraries across North America. I also wanted to share this conversation locally, because much of the content we’re sharing has applications in other contexts. Our campus, so grounded in equity, may find value in these conversations as well.

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