6 Survey Results: Executive Summary
Diversity & Inclusion Engagement
Over the last five years, changes in the national political climate, as well as changes in campus and library
leadership, have greatly influenced and heightened awareness of diversity and inclusion activities at
survey respondents’ institutions. Many stated that the quantity and depth of diversity activities and
trainings have increased, including increased engagement by more faculty and staff so “diversity and
inclusion is woven into the fabric of all we do and less as stand-alone initiatives.” The development
of strategic plans—both at the campus and library level—with built-in support services has also
enabled libraries to respond to social justice movements in a variety of ways, from hosting exhibits,
providing space for peaceful gathering, and partnering with campus cultural affinity groups to formal
inclusion statements and moves to de-name/rename buildings. Several respondents also mentioned the
transformation of gendered restrooms into gender-neutral restrooms.
Recommendations and Conclusion
In the seven years since SPEC Kit 319 surveyed ARL member libraries on their diversity plans and
programs, they have made strides to create more diverse and inclusive workplaces by developing both
library and institution-level diversity committees, teams, and task forces, diversity officer positions, and
specific diversity and inclusion plans. While it is clear that ARL libraries have expanded their definition
and scope of diversity and the methods they use to support marginalized groups, there is more to be done,
not only at an institutional level but in the profession as a whole.
Recruiting librarians from underrepresented groups to the profession has to begin with LIS
education. Innovative approaches that fund opportunities in archives, music, and other internships
are attracting undergraduate students who may become interested in a library career. Changes to the
graduate-level LIS curriculum that incorporate cultural competencies and social justice issues can
ensure students will learn how best to serve diverse communities through collections, programs, and
services. For example, Jaeger and his colleagues (2015) have been successful in developing the “virtuous
circle” of educating LIS faculty and students to be compassionate and culturally responsive to the needs
of the community, therefore recruiting other individuals who share their values into the profession.
Cooke (2017) has incorporated discussions and projects into her classes that challenge the students to be
responsive to and value the communities they may work in and desire to serve.
LIS students have also organized diversity initiatives on their campuses. For example, the
iDiversity group at the University of Maryland was organized in 2012 to promote cultural competency
within the institution and the profession at large (Oxley 2016). In response to call for a greater sense
of community amongst graduate students of color at the Simmons School of Library and Information
Sciences, Students of Color at SLIS was founded in 2015 to build and sustain a supportive community
to contribute to their academic development, social growth, and well being. Spectra was formed to
bring together individuals who share an interest in issues that surround the LGBTQ community in the
profession of library science. In 2016, DERAIL (Diversity, Equity, Race, Accessibility, and Identity in LIS),
a student-initiated forum for students to engage in meaningful conversations about critical approaches
to librarianship, archives, children’s literature, cultural heritage institutions, and museums, held its first
forum. (Simmons College n.d.)
Libraries must continue to fund and implement library programs that research and experience
show really work: mentoring, residency programs, professional development, affinity groups, and staff
training. Damasco and Hodges’ research (2012) about the tenure and promotion experiences of academic
librarians identified obstacles and effective initiatives in achieving success. Their results reinforce the
need for informal and formal mentoring, professional development programs, and affinity or peer support
groups for successful advancement. The results of this SPEC survey also show that mentoring programs,
both formal and informal, are successful in retaining a diverse workforce, but are still slow in developing.
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