Spring officially sprung last weekend, though from the weather coverage of much of the northern U.S., I couldn’t tell. We’ve got conferences coming up! Is anyone going to ER&L (I am!)? How about NASIG? Or ALA Annual, which will be right here in my backyard in Disneytown…er…Orlando?
Last Friday, I took a hiatus from Hot Topics to attend an all-day Summit on Transforming Learning here at my institution. Our focus was advancing racial justice among our campus community and beyond. If you read or watch any form of national news, you’ve probably seen coverage of stories at colleges like Yale, University of Missouri, and Princeton where students are speaking up against racial injustices and, in some cases, threats to their safety. While we may not be in the midst of protests here on my campus, it doesn’t mean we’re doing everything right. We have a long road ahead of us in our commitment to fostering diversity in all forms and in creating an inclusive, welcoming campus where our students are empowered to find and express their multi-faceted voices. But the library can help!
As a follow-up to the Summit, we’ve already begun discussions in the library on how we can be campus change leaders. Thanks to our ambitious director and our dedicated team, we want to be proactive in our next steps. But what does that mean? What does that look like? Will these questions ever be answered? Fostering diversity and social justice can seem like a lot of ephemeral words that ultimately go nowhere, which, I believe, is why a lot of good intentions lose steam very quickly. Here in the library, we’re trying to keep the momentum going by potentially organizing a Diversity Committee consisting of librarians, staff, and student workers. Our director has encouraged us to apply to be ACRL Spectrum Scholar Mentors. We may start a book discussion group on topics of diversity in higher education, and we’re already planning to inject some difficult conversations into our celebration of Banned Books Week this fall.
What does your library do to promote and infuse diversity and inclusion? How about in regard to services, facilities, and collections? How about recruiting diverse librarians and staff? As we move in new directions and embrace the changing demographic of our student body, we look to ourselves as leaders. I’d love to hear more about what’s going on in your libraries and on your campuses/organizations.
Tom is originally from Brooklyn N.Y but has spent his entire professional career in South Carolina, most recently as Head of Reference Services at the College of Charleston. As part of the Against the Grain and Charleston Conference team, he serves as the associate editor of the print ATG as well as the co-editor of the webpage. Tom’s conference duties include coordinating the Penthouse Suite interviews as well as the conference poster sessions.
He received his MLS from the University of Buffalo, SUNY and a second master’s in public administration from the College of Charleston and the Univ. of South Carolina. His wife Carol and he live in downtown Charleston and she is an artist and a tour guide offering historic walking tours of the city.