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Advancing Diversity, Inclusion, and Equality: University of Michigan

by Jeff Witt | Diversity and Inclusion Specialist, University of Michigan Library | on April 14, 2016

As a part of the University of Michigan’s (U-M) Diversity Strategic Planning Process, the U-M Library is in the process of writing a detailed diversity plan. This plan will launch at the beginning of the fall 2016 semester with a version on the U-M Library website. The U-M Library considers accessibility to be an important component of diversity, equity, and inclusion and therefore includes initiatives to ensure accessibility in these efforts.

Diversity Goals:

A critical component of the plan is goal writing. Long-term (visionary) and short-term (strategic) diversity goals are established and tracked within the plan. Individual library employees also write diversity goals as a part of the library performance management process.

Town Hall:

As a part of the diversity strategic planning process, the library hosted a town hall during which U-M faculty, staff, and students shared thoughts, questions, and ideas related to how the U-M Library can contribute to the diversity and inclusion efforts of the university.

Association of Research Libraries Diversity Initiatives:

  • ARL Career Enhancement Program (CEP)—Since 2011 the U-M Library has sponsored 2 MLIS students per year to participate in this important and impactful program.
  • ARL Leadership and Career Development Program (LCDP)—The library has supported the participation of 10 U-M librarians in this biennial program since 1999.

Diversity Initiatives:

The U-M Library is actively engaged in many diversity-focused initiatives, which are featured in the library’s diversity plan. Some key ongoing diversity initiatives include the following:

Diversity-Focused Librarians and Staff Positions
  • Diversity and Inclusion Specialist
  • Accessibility Specialist
  • Multicultural Studies Librarian
  • Student Enrichment and Community Outreach Librarian
  • Disability Issues and Outreach Librarian, Health Sciences
  • Women’s Studies & Publishing Services Librarian
  • Front-end Architect and Accessibility Specialist, Library IT
  • Accessibility Specialist in User Experience, Library IT
  • Global Health Coordinator, Health Sciences
  • Head, Asia Library (leading a team of 11 Librarians & professional staff)
  • Head, International Studies (leading a team of 21 Librarians & professional staff)
Library Diversity Council (LDC)

The U-M Library Diversity Council is comprised of 12 library employees who are nominated and elected to the council by their library colleagues. LDC advances the library’s mission by providing leadership, support, programming, and development opportunities in areas of diversity and inclusion. One of the primary initiatives of the council is the annual Diversity Award and Celebration. The Library Diversity Award is given to a library group or staff member who has advocated for diversity through their work at the library and/or in the local community.

Peer Information Counseling (PIC)

The PIC Program is a peer-education program that is comprised of a select group of undergraduate students from a variety of backgrounds hired for their interpersonal and academic strengths and specially trained to provide research and reference consultation to their peers on campus. Additionally, they provide expertise to other library activities including instruction, exhibits, and K–12 and community outreach.

U-M Library Lab—Detroit Center Program

The resources and services provided at the Detroit Center Library Lab support the research and learning needs of faculty, students, staff, and community partners, much of which are focused on improving Detroit community outcomes.

Accessibility First Program

Led by the U-M Library Accessibility Specialist, this program promotes a strategic framework of accessibility and performs internal assessment audits.

International Student & Scholar Orientation

In collaboration with the U-M International Center’s orientation program, U-M Library staff host an orientation to library services directed specifically to international students and scholars.

Global Information Week

A week of events focused on helping international students feel welcome and encouraging domestic students with aspirations to study abroad. The U-M Library collaborates with other U-M units and student organizations to bring a diversity of events each spring.

Library Staff Workshops

Various professional development workshops are offered for library employees by library employees over the course of the academic year. The most recent workshops supporting diversity include “Accessibility Training for Service Points” and “Writing Diversity Goals.”

Global Health Initiatives

The Global Health Librarian leads the Taubman Health Sciences Library’s involvement in and response to global health initiatives and establishes partnerships, promotes and fosters relationships, and creates opportunities in research, teaching, and learning in the health sciences.

E-Book Accessibility

Formed in fall 2015, Michigan Publishing’s E-Book Accessibility Task Force will assess e-book accessibility and guide implementation of practices to create born-accessible content.

Library Amity Committee & Mentoring Program

The Library’s Amity Program creates a warm, welcoming, and inviting environment for new library employees. Existing staff members volunteer to provide social programming as a part of new employees’ onboarding process. The mentoring program matches new employees with seasoned library employees who can provide them with various levels of support as they transition into their new positions.


MoSAIC (Movies, Supper, And Insightful Conversation) is a diversity-themed cinema club that meets to view films and hold informal conversations about themes presented in the films. MoSAIC was created by two library employees as their diversity goal in 2015. Library employees are specifically invited, but movie viewings and discussion meetings are open to anyone in the U-M community.

Martin Luther King Day Committee (MLK)

This committee plans and organizes annual events surrounding Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations at the library.

Accessible, Quiet Space Study Carrels

The Graduate Library offers accessible carrels to students registered with Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD). Students may reserve one of five carrels available for weeklong periods at no cost. The library also provides programming and consultation space to the university adaptive technology services unit, the Knox Center.

Accessibility Training for Library Employees

This training session is conducted by the Library Accessibility Specialist and covers principles and best practices used in communicating and interacting with patrons with disabilities, and provides examples of how staff can provide excellent customer service to library patrons of all abilities. The training also covers the kinds of assistive technology available within the library. Resources include software available on all SITES (public) computers, the locations of workspaces with adjustable furniture, and tutorials accessible to staff upon request. Another resource discussed was the Knox Center, available to students who are registered with the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD).

Student Engagement Program Mini Grants

Student mini-grants (up to $1,000) support innovative and collaborative projects that make a real-life impact. Awarded projects will strengthen community partnerships, enhance global scholarship, and/or advocate for inclusion and diversity. Of the 18 mini grants awarded to students this year, 14 were directly related to diversity and inclusion. These students were also given direct access to and the support of a librarian or library staff member with expertise in the given subject area.

Library Exhibits, Displays & Events

The U-M Library sponsors and hosts several exhibits within many library spaces across the university. While there are dozens of exhibits, displays, and events supporting diversity each semester, a few recent examples include;

  • A “Gender and Gaming Symposium” in October.
  • “Lives of the Great Patriotic War Exhibit”: The untold story of Jewish Soviet soldiers in the Red Army during WWII.
  • “Agents of Change Exhibit”: Exploring the connection between diversity, campus climate, and student engagement in the Stamps School of Art & Design; College of Engineering; School of Music, Theatre and Dance; and the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.
  • Chasing Daybreak: A film about mixed race in America.
  • Author’s Forum: U-M professors discuss The Cherokee Rose, Tiya Miles’s novel that examines a little-known aspect of America’s past.
  • Crossing the Line, Multiracial Comedians: This full-length documentary analyzes how mixed-race comedians mediate multiracial identities and humor.
  • “Jon Onye Lockard, Celebrating His Life and Legacy”: This exhibit honors the life and work of late U-M professor Jon Onye Lockard, who was instrumental in the development of African American arts and culture in Michigan.
  • Heritage & History Month Programming: The library contributes to the programming schedules of many yearly heritage and history month recognitions.
  • “Introvert Discussion”: Facilitated by the Library Staff Forum, inspired by Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.
  • “Global Student Panel”: Five students from around the world reflect on what it means to be a global student and share their experiences studying at U-M and living in Ann Arbor.

Back to “What ARL Members Are Doing to Advance Diversity, Inclusion, and Equality

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