University of Mississippi Libraries
University of Mississippi Libraries
Five-Year Equity-in-Action Plan
MESSAGE FROM DEAN CECILIA BOTERO
UM Libraries holds a unique and important place in the university community. The libraries’ core mission is to serve all members of the university community and is further tasked with serving the general public. It is important that all library users see themselves represented in our collections, services, physical environment, programs, exhibits and artwork.
MESSAGE FROM DIVERSITY LIAISON
UM Libraries is committed to ensuring that diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility are core tenets of the libraries’ environment, services, programs and collections. Library managers with their teams will:
- Develop, suggest and advance library programs, events and procedures that promote a welcoming, respectful and inclusive environment for UM students, faculty, staff and general public
- Identify opportunities for the libraries to address historical and current inequities in resources and services. Support libraries’ personnel who assess, implement or sustain models that increase accessibility, representativeness and accountability
- Align the libraries’ efforts with campuswide initiatives through strategic partnerships to deliver effective initiatives that meet the diverse needs of students, faculty, staff and community partners
UM Libraries contributes toward a more just society by enhancing access to information resources with diverse perspectives. This pursuit is consistent with the core values of the library profession as well as the university’s mission.
The Diversity Committee reports to the dean. The committee membership is composed of library managers and encompasses all units and roles. The committee establishes its specific activities through annual goals and associated action items. Goals and action items are created in collaboration and consultation with team members in each unit. These plans are also shared and discussed at the libraries’ “All Staff Meeting,” which consists of all library faculty and staff. Goals are then submitted to and approved by the libraries’ management group and widely distributed throughout the library and on the diversity webpage.
As the heart of the University of Mississippi, University Libraries celebrates the diversity of our users and employees. We are dedicated to providing an environment where everyone feels welcome. Our online and in-person services are created to be welcoming and accessible to all members of our community. By providing equal access to technologies and resources, we ensure that all students are empowered for academic success.
DIVERSITY EQUITY AND INCLUSION COMMITTEE
- Cecilia Botero, Dean of Libraries, DEI Liaison
- Melissa R. Dennis, Research and Instruction
- Michelle Emanuel, Metadata and Digital Initiatives
- Jennifer Ford, Archives and Special Collections
- Judy Greenwood, Access Services
- Gail Herrera, Technical Services and Automation
- Kevin Herrera, Information Technology
- Christina Streeter, Library Manager
- Jocelyn Tipton, Public Services
- Christina Torbert, Continuing Resources
- Stanley Whitehorn, Library Facilities
UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES STRATEGIC ACTIVITIES
A. Recruit and retain a diverse and inclusive workforce.
The library profession in general is notably lacking in diversity. This is an area that library professional organizations and schools throughout the country are actively trying to address. UM Libraries will actively recruit underrepresented faculty and staff to increase diversity in our workplace and better reflect the community we serve. UM Libraries has been a member of the ACRL Diversity Alliance for three years. The ACRL Diversity Alliance is dedicated to increasing the hiring pipeline of qualified and talented individuals from diverse backgrounds. In an effort to support this initiative, the library specifically set aside a visiting faculty line. The goal of maintaining this position as a visiting position is to promote the continued growth of diversity in the library position. The incumbent will participate in the ACRL Diversity Alliance network and join the ACRL Residency Interest Group to share ideas, resources and best practices. The expectation is that the ACRL Residency Interest Group will provide support from cohorts around the country. Internally, the incumbent will be assigned a mentor to help navigate the local environment.
Area(s) Responsible: search Committees, supervisors and deans
Resources Statement: As future hiring needs and opportunities permit
- Percentage of Search Committee members that have completed UM Diversity and Inclusion Search Committee training (Baseline: N/A)
- Include diversity criteria in search committee rubric sheets
B. Develop infrastructure to identify and address DEI needs among library users.
Accessibility issues are pervasive in library material resources. Commercially purchased electronic resources do not comply in their entirety with existing Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines. In addition, library-owned materials span a long period of time, which includes vendors who adhere to ADA standards for their more current resources. However, the same cannot be said of the older content. Despite these challenges, UM Libraries is determined to improve accessibility of collections, resources and physical spaces. UM Libraries is a member of the Library Accessibility Alliance through its ASERL membership. The LAA is committed to working with library e-resource vendors to ensure the content they provide is accessible. It also provides libraries with tools to assess the accessibility of vendor-provided resources. Proactively, it provides accessibility language to include in licensing agreements to ensure that resources adhere to established ADA standards as we move forward.
We will accomplish this through a review of our digital repository (eGrove) and other electronic resources.
Area(s) Responsible: Continuing Resources Dept., Metadata and Digital Initiatives Dept. and Associate Dean for Technical Services
Resources Statement: Identify tools to be used for the assessment process
Metrics: Number (or percentage) of resources assessed
Currently, the library does not have seamless processes in place that would allow our patrons to request accommodations without having to speak to a specific library staff member. This represents a barrier to some library users, preventing them from making full use of the library in the most convenient way. The library will work to create an automated request process for patrons needing accommodations. To reduce the need for patrons having to specifically request accommodations, we will also investigate library hardware and software for accessibility options. Although the library’s web presence is ADA compliant, we understand the importance of keeping it up to date. In an effort to ensure ongoing compliance, we will develop a proactive continuous review process. Moving forward, we need to establish processes that ensure all public content be Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and ADA compliant. We will accomplish this by creating appropriate guidelines and reviewing workflows to ensure appropriate compliance at the departmental level.
Area(s) Responsible: All library departments, Diversity Committee
Resources Statement: Investigate outside consultant(s) to help identify content to be remediated. Partner with campus allies to help identify content that needs to be addressed.
- Completed webpage with process for patrons to request accommodations
- Departments report annually to Diversity Committee their review of resources for accessibility (could be number of resources/sites/software reviewed each year)
A core value of UM Libraries is to offer professional development and develop diversity awareness and sensitivity among library employees. To ensure ongoing and sustained efforts in the area of DEI, the UM libraries will continue to provide and encourage training opportunities. In the past, the library has provided training for all library faculty and staff as a group. We found the experience very enriching and hope to be able to find opportunities to do the same in the future. Our student employees are an important part of the library staff. Student employees will also need training, particularly on the location of accessibility spaces and how to respond to accessibility needs.
Area(s) Responsible: supervisors and deans
Resources Statement: Identify training opportunities
Metrics: number of trainings provided
C. Develop a more diverse, equitable and inclusive library environment.
Our main building, the J.D. Williams Library is turning 70 years old in 2021. Reconstruction efforts have made the building and services more available for people with disabilities, but historical design aspects render certain entrances and areas unusable or challenging. Associate professor Ashley Dees serves on the Chancellor’s Standing Committee on Accessibility and provided the library with recommendations that were immediately addressed and several that require a long-term approach. There are physical barriers in the building that we probably will not be able to overcome considering the age of the building, but alternative solutions can be identified and put in place. We have also learned through internal surveys that some of the library spaces and exhibited art are distressing to some of our staff and by extension to our patrons. The identified shortcomings indicate that there are likely many more that we are not aware of because we have become desensitized to them by over-familiarity. To help us identify these areas, the library will recruit outside advisers to identify barriers to diversity, equity and inclusion in our physical spaces.
Our need to reflect the library’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion must also be evident in our collections. The American Library Association includes diversity in collection development in the “Library Bill of Rights,” which states that “librarians have an obligation […] to select and support the access to materials on all subjects that meet, as closely as possible the needs and interests of all persons in the community which the library serves. This includes materials that reﬂect political, economic, religious, social, minority, and sexual issues” (Ofﬁce for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association, 2006). The first step to address this need is to analyze the collection to ensure that we have adequately represented diverse opinions that align with our diverse population. Such an assessment will be difficult and will begin by investigating strategies to proactively assess our collections to increase diversity in the collection.
Area(s) Responsible: Collection Steering Committee, library liaisons, library facilities department
Resources Statement: Identify tools to be used for the assessment process. Identify outside adviser(s) to help us identify existing barriers.
- Metric: Outside adviser completes review of physical spaces
- Metric: DEI statement included in collection management plans