by Annabelle Nuñez, MA
Associate Director, University of Arizona Health Sciences Library
University of Arizona
I received a Professional Development Award from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine Pacific Southwest Region to travel to Minneapolis, MN, to attend the Symposium for Strategic Leadership in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Preconference on May 9-11, 2018. The symposium, hosted by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the Association of College Research Libraries (ACRL), offered programming to help participants learn ways in which they can lead their organizations towards creating more equitable, diverse, and inclusive (EDI) climates.
On the first day, the preconference, Judith Katz and Fred Miller of the Kaleel Jamison Consulting Group, Inc., led us through a full day of engaging conversation and activities. We were asked to identify and reflect on the state of our respective organization’s EDI culture. We worked through various exercises to learn about inclusive frameworks to use in the development of organizational systems to support greater inclusion in our libraries. The next day, our opening keynote speaker was DeRay Mckesson, host of Pod Save the People podcast. Mr. Mckesson is an American civil rights activist and former school administrator. We heard about his work as a teacher and administrator and his contributions to the Black Lives Matter movement. He spoke to the injustices associated with being black in America, particularly with respect to law enforcement. Later in the day, I attended a session entitled Acting on the Ithaka Report: Design Thinking for Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Libraries—Part 1: Understanding the Issues. According to the Ithaka survey sent to 1,498 directors in academic libraries, over three quarters of the librarians reporting identified as white, and nearly 90% of the leadership reporting also identified as white. We discussed the report findings and identified a real urgency to put into place systems in our libraries that support the path to EDI in the library profession. Some strategies discussed included provisioning pipeline programs, expanding EDI context in library and information education, and cross-cultural training for the existing workforce. On the last day, the most notable session I attended was a presentation of best practices and lessons learned from a few institutions participating in the ACRL Diversity Alliance program. This was of special interest to me as our health sciences library works with the university’s School of Information to sponsor a Knowledge River graduate assistant each year. The National Library of Medicine supports this collaboration.
In 2016, leadership at the University of Arizona Libraries created a charge to form a diversity committee to create a path of inclusion for the organization. Currently, I am a member of the Diversity Social Justice and Equity Council (DSJEC), as a representative of the University of Arizona Health Sciences Library. Attending the symposium gave me an opportunity to learn new approaches for assessing our library culture and environment. I plan to share this information with my DSJEC colleagues so that we may integrate these frameworks in the development of our EDI programming and organizational structures. Overall, the sessions and peer networking were a great way to share and gain knowledge on the practice of EDI work. This symposium was very educational and inspiring and I look forward to working with our library Council using the resources and information shared. If the symposium becomes a regular event, I highly recommend this opportunity for anyone who works in a library!