Drexel Libraries Expands Efforts to Promote Diversity, Inclusion and Equality
July 8, 2020
With issues of race and civic injustices at the forefront of conversations around the country, institutions like Drexel University are critically examining their programs and activities to address and dismantle systemic racism and to ensure they provide safe, diverse, equitable and inclusive environments for all members of their communities.
These values—diversity, equity, and inclusivity—have been fundamental to U.S. libraries and their mission to “provide free access to information for all people” for decades, and they are among the Drexel University Libraries’ (DUL) core values as well.
As such, the Drexel Libraries is also examining its programs and services, focusing on both new and established efforts to combat racism and support the University to promote these core values of diversity, equity and inclusion.
Over the last few weeks, the Libraries has held internal conversations among staff, discussing how racism affects both Libraries staff and the members of the Drexel community who visit the Libraries. Librarians created a list of resources to serve as a starting point for anyone interested in learning about systems of race, privilege and power, as well as how to enact change in ourselves and our organizations. Libraries staff also shared resources they personally have found to be informative, inspiring, and thought-provoking.
The Libraries has also volunteered to help create and maintain a resource hub of information and resources about Drexel’s anti-racism initiatives, as well as shared recommended readings the University community might consult to build common understanding. Libraries staff also are beginning to assess already owned and licensed resources, as well as availability of publications, videos, oral histories, databases and specialized collections to determine ways to improve access to sources of information to explore issues of diversity and inclusiveness.
The Drexel Libraries’ Diversity & Inclusion Working Group, formally established in 2018, continues its work to build and foster an ongoing culture of inclusion and diversity within the Libraries. Over the last two years, the Working Group has updated the Libraries’ accessibility statement and its diversity, inclusion and equity statement and evaluated the Libraries website to determine if it meets accessibility standards.
Recognizing the importance of continuing education for staff, members of the Working Group also help identify and organize guest speakers to present issues of diversity and inclusion. Last year, they arranged for the University’s Office of Equality & Diversity to provide an informative session on implicit bias and microaggressions. In June, one of the DUL administrative coordinators invited Professor Thomas Weidner, Chair of the School of Kinesiology at Ball State University, to join Libraries staff through a Zoom session during which he shared his experiences as a blind faculty member and offered tips and resources to help staff better serve differently abled people. This special session also raised staff awareness of their colleague’s insights and sensitivity to ways the speaker leverages his diverse skills to be a very successful academic and her father.
The Drexel Libraries—both as an organization and as a group of committed individuals—actively continues to break down systemic inequality, to explore new opportunities to be active allies against racism and injustice, and to create welcoming learning environments for all members of the Drexel community.