The topics of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are critical to our campus at UC Riverside.
On April 10, 2018, the UCR Library’s Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (CODEI) held a kickoff event to encourage library staff to start thinking about DEI issues in their everyday work, led by guest expert Mark Puente, Director of Diversity & Leadership Programs for the Association of Research Libraries.
A follow-up event held on June 4, 2019 sought to highlight examples of library employees who have turned their ideals into practice. This event was co-sponsored by CODEI, the Librarians Association of the University of California, Riverside (LAUC-R), and the library’s Professional Development Committee (PDC).
The event included six lightning talks from library staff members who noted challenges and described how they incorporated inclusive practices into their work, including:
- Diversifying digital collections with Digitization Services Program Manager Eric Milenkiewicz
- Bringing library collections into the community with University Programs Teaching Librarian Judy Lee
- Involving communities in describing collections with Collections Management Librarian Jessica Geiser, Digital Assets Metadata Librarian Noah Geraci, and Primary Source Literacy Teaching Librarian Robin Katz
- Mental health-related study breaks with Access Services Desk Coordinator Elisha Hankins and Circulation/Reserves Services Manager Sahra Klawitter
- Increasing access via streaming media with Reserves Streaming Coordinator Philip Chiu
- Professional organizations related to diversity with Collection Strategist for Arts & Humanities Carla Arbagey
CODEI Co-Chair and Director of Teaching & Learning Dani Cook commented, “The lightning talks were a great example of how issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion are present in every aspect of library work, from creating useful descriptions of collections to providing support for students during stressful times of the quarter. The more we can discuss these issues together and reflect on how they affect our work, the better we can serve our users and support our colleagues.”
Additionally, event attendees participated in a rapid prototyping, design-thinking exercise where small groups brainstormed and developed ideas related to real-life DEI challenges in the library environment.
“It was so exciting to see people from all parts of the Library come together to brainstorm solutions to challenges related to diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Cook said. “Everyone seemed deeply engaged, and there were many creative ideas produced, ranging from the very feasible (like checking out noise-cancelling headphones for users with sensory sensitivities) to the more aspirational (a robot that retrieves items for patrons).”
CODEI plans to host more follow-up events to turn ideas into actionable proposals, and continue to engage in these issues across departmental boundaries, Cook noted.
“I don’t imagine that there will ever be a time when CODEI’s work is finished—there will always be more that we can learn and apply around diversity, equity, and inclusion. But continuing to have space to educate ourselves and support one another in considering DEI throughout our day is critical, and one major role of CODEI is to facilitate those spaces,” Cook added. “We also hope that there will be some concrete outcomes from the ideas generated at the event, and that we continue to include more voices in future events.”