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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

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Creating Diverse, Equitable, Inclusive, and Accessible Services, Collections, and Work Environments

Research libraries work to advance access to economic and social prosperity, encourage full participation in society, and counter the historical lack of access to material resources about underrepresented human groups in collections that we cultivate and steward. In 2019 ARL collaborated with the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL), the American Library Association (ALA), DeEtta Jones & Associates (DJA), The Ohio State University, the Public Library Association (PLA), and the Society of American Archivists (SAA) to develop staff and interns. 

Developing current staff and student recruits 

More than 700 participants attended diversity, equity, and inclusion events offered or sponsored by ARL: the 2019 ARL Annual Leadership Symposium, the Leadership and Career Development Program (LCDP) and Fellowship for Digital and Inclusive Excellence webinars, the LCDP Capstone Institute, the ARL/SAA Mosaic Leadership Forum, and the IDEAL Conference and pre-conference for ARL directors at The Ohio State University. These programs promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the library and archives workforce and prepare emerging and mid-career professionals from historically underrepresented groups to take on leadership roles.

ARL consulted on improving diversity, equity, and inclusion with the libraries at the University of Alberta, Emory University, Florida State University, University of Houston, The University of Iowa, University of Manitoba, Simon Fraser University, and Wayne State University, as well as with Duke University Press.

The Association offered the Equity Toolkit to LCDP fellows, their career coaches, and select staff from fellows’ institutions. The Equity Toolkit is an online course by DeEtta Jones and Associates that provides the knowledge, language, skills, and framework needed to become proficient working across cultures.

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Twenty-five ARL library directors and staff participated in the ARL On the Edge webinar “From Safe Spaces to Brave Spaces” that explored how public space in libraries might embody the principles of safe and brave space. The program explored how libraries can create environments where users feel physically and psychologically safe to be fully engaged in research and learning, while at the same time in a physical space where productive and respectful debate can occur and where challenges to assumptions and ideologies can transpire. 

ARL staff participated in the Archives Leadership Institute at Purdue University, exploring intercultural competency and diversity-skills development, among other issues, with 20 mid-career archivists. ARL’s participation in the event supported Purdue’s leadership in the three-year project funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) and facilitated by NARA. Over the years, numerous archivists from ARL member institutions have participated in the Archives Leadership Institute, which helps bridge leadership development theories across communities of practice. 

Developing future leaders

Looking to the future, the Association launched the ACRL-ALA-ARL-PLA task force to develop a framework for proficiencies in racial equity in libraries and archives. ARL initiated work on creating a “path to inclusion” for ARL members, a comprehensive plan to ensure that the Association and all of its events are welcoming and conducive to optimal participation and engagement by its diverse membership. The Association hosted University of Maryland iSchool students—many of whom are likely to work in libraries in the future—to discuss accessibility of both resources and spaces and the implications of serving a growing population of researchers with differing needs. 

Statements promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion

In 2019, ARL issued two statements asserting our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion as core values of the Association. This commitment is deeply embedded in the mission of libraries and archives, and in the work we do as an institutional-member organization called upon to provide leadership in key issues and practices that define our profession. The specific statements are “ARL Affirms Commitment to Advancing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion” and “Association of Research Libraries Condemns Racist and Anti-Semitic Acts at Syracuse University.”