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Valuing Diversity at the Libraries

Diversity Plan 2005

The Libraries Diversity and Organizational Culture Task Force was charged in March of 2004 to develop a diversity plan. The Task Force reviewed relevant UW documents and also looked at plans and practices in other universities. In 2004 the Task Force surveyed library staff in order to identify issues of diversity important to the staff and identify areas that need attention or improvement. Survey results showed diversity is important to our staff, and that the most important issue is being able to support our diverse user community effectively (Appendix 1). However, the staff also perceives that the Libraries can do a better job in addressing diversity issues, especially in recruiting a diverse work force and in supporting the needs of our diverse user community.

At the same time the Libraries’ Diversity Task Force was working on the survey and plan, the University of Washington was conducting a Diversity Appraisal. The Appraisal Steering Committee asked all units across all three campuses to document their diversity initiatives and practices. The Diversity Appraisal is just one of many ways the UW administration is seeking to incorporate greater awareness of diversity issues into University operations. It is within this culture of diversity awareness that the Libraries’ Task Force has written this plan.

The University of Washington defines diversity broadly to include “race, gender, disability, class, sexual identity/orientation, religion, age, ethnicity, culture, region/geography, and indigenous status.”

Respect for all human diversity is a fundamental value of the Libraries and is identified among the core values of our strategic plan. Staff members who appreciate different backgrounds and perspectives provide us with a competitive advantage as we approach problem solving and planning for services. This appreciation also allows us to serve our increasingly diverse communities more effectively and with more sensitivity.

Beyond respect for diversity, it is important to recognize that inequity can often accompany diversity. This plan is meant to foster and support an organizational culture where those inequities do not occur or are remedied when identified.

Libraries personnel at all levels of the organization are responsible for developing and maintaining a culture supportive of and committed to diversity. However, in order to expedite implementation of the plan and provide support and guidance, the Diversity Task Force recommends that the establishment of a Diversity Officer position and a standing Diversity Committee be the first actions taken (see Goal #5). The Diversity Officer and Committee should begin action on the “within 6 months” items immediately as they are of the highest priority. The remaining action items where implementation is recommended within twelve months should be prioritized by the Committee. Where funds and workload implications of others are incurred in the execution of the Plan, the responsible party(ies) will develop a plan.

  1. Recruitment of staff from diverse backgrounds
    Goal: To increase the diversity of the Libraries’ workforce at all levels of the organization

    Action Items:

    Implementation: Diversity Officer; Diversity Committee; Administrative Officer Responsible for Personnel (AORP); Staff Development

    Within 6 Months
  • Review our recruitment policies and procedures so that they support the UW Libraries commitment to diversity
  • Initiate a conversation between the iSchool Diversity Committee and the Libraries Diversity Committee to explore collaboration
  • Investigate the costs and effectiveness of residency programs for minority librarians and develop a proposal if appropriate (2005-2006)

Within 12 Months

        • Establish mentoring program for staff who may want to pursue a library degree, collaborating with the i-School
        • Work with the University to take advantage of hiring opportunities that promote a diverse Libraries staff
        • Proactively promote UW Libraries as a place in which to work
        • Establish opportunities for students interested in working in libraries as a career to participate in mentored work programs
      1. Retention of staff from diverse backgrounds
        Goal: Promote an inclusive and supportive workplace culture as an important element in retaining a diverse staff

        Action Items:

        Within 12 Months
        • Support opportunities for professional development and/or growth, and mentoring/networking for all staff
          Implementation: Diversity Officer; Diversity Committee; Libraries Council; Staff Development; Librarian Advisory Program (LAP)
        • Facilitate connections between new hires and groups/resources at the university and in the community
          Implementation: Diversity Committee; Diversity Officer; Staff Development Officer, UL Staff
        • Work with the University to enhance salary and compensation flexibility to retain a diverse library staff
          Implementation: Dean of the Libraries; AORP
      2. Organizational Culture
        Goal: To incorporate awareness of the value and importance of diversity at all levels of the Libraries so that staff recognize their responsibility in maintaining a culture supportive of and committed to diversity; provide a supportive and safe working and learning environment

        Action Items:

        Implementation: Diversity Officer; Diversity Committee; Staff Development

        Within 6 months
        • Provide ongoing staff training to foster individual responsibility for maintenance of a supportive and safe working and learning environment, with particular attention to the role of supervisors and managers to eliminate or remedy inequities when they are identified
        • Highlight and promote the diversity of the libraries staff through programs and publications throughout the organization, i.e. Inforum, Library Directions, and LSA
        • Enhance the Staff Development collection with diversity related materials including academic librarianship, higher education and organizational development
      3. Services to Constituents
        Goal: To enrich the quality of life and advance intellectual discovery by connecting people of diverse backgrounds and ethnicities with knowledge

        Action Items:

        Within 6 Months
        • Develop and implement ongoing staff training in order to improve staff members' abilities to provide excellent service to all our diverse users, especially with regards to primary language barriers and physical/mental disabilities.
          Implementation: Staff Development Officer; Diversity Committee; RISG and other public service groups
        • To ensure compliance with Section 508 of the Americans with Disabilities Act, attempt to procure accessible information technology products and electronic resources. If an accessible product cannot be found, ask vendors about their plans for making future versions of their products accessible and let them know that accessibility is a consideration for purchase.
          Implementation: CMS; Diversity Officer
        • Review University of Washington Libraries’ publications, website, and service policies for their accessibility to disabled users.
          Implementation: WSC; RISG, Publications Committee

        Within 12 Months

          • Develop and maintain collections to support diversity in the current and changing UW curriculum
            Implementation: IRC; Liaisons; Cataloging Policy Committee; Metadata Implementation Group
          • Increase outreach to UW and external communities through library resources, services, collections, web resources and exhibits related to diversity; including the use of multilingual web pages and other publications as appropriate.
            Implementation: WSC; Liaisons; IRC
          • Provide services and spaces that nurture and support academic success for our diverse student community
        1. Organizational Structure of Diversity in the Libraries
          Goal: To create a standing Diversity Committee, reporting directly to the Dean of University Libraries

          • Half of the committee membership should come from the Task Force to ensure continuity
          • The Staff Development Officer and the Assessment Officer will serve as ex officio members of the Committee to aid in communication, implementation, and benchmarking.
          • Consider the inclusion of 1 member from outside the Libraries

          Elements to consider for inclusion in the charge to the Diversity Committee:

            • Coordinate implementation of the diversity plan
            • Promote the inclusion of diversity into our culture/organizational values
            • Review and assess the diversity plan and staff/community needs annually, including the establishment of appropriate benchmarks to measure and ensure progress in achieving the goals and action items
            • Work with other library individuals and groups to identify and take advantage of opportunities related to diversity
            • Provide a “diversity toolkit” for Libraries staff to use in outreach
            • Establish and maintain a website and use other appropriate methods of communicating with staff and community about diversity

            Goal: To establish the position of the Diversity Officer

            Responsibilities of the Diversity Officer, based on an initial 2 year half-time appointment include:

              • Chair the Diversity Committee
              • Provide oversight for the Libraries’ diversity efforts
              • Serve as official liaison to UW offices and departments, i.e. Office of Minority Affairs on behalf of the UW Libraries and the Diversity Committee
              • Work with the Diversity Committee and others in identifying areas of needed support within the Libraries, i.e. training
              • Assist in identifying opportunities for libraries staff involvement in diversity activities on campus and outreach to the community
              • Be involved in professional association diversity programs/committees
              • Assist individuals, management and library units in achieving goals of the diversity plan and other diversity initiatives
              • Serve ex-officio on Libraries Council

              It is the recommendation of the Task Force that a review of the Diversity Officer be conducted after 2 years. This review, involving Libraries Cabinet and the Diversity Committee, should include consideration of the placement of the position in the organization as well as the time commitment of the position.