From the Colorado Virtual Library’s Trustee Corner
By Crystal Schimpf, Public Library Specialist, Leadership & Community Development at Colorado State Library
Libraries have begun to prioritize equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in their organizational values, strategic planning, and key initiative areas. At the national level, the Public Library Association (PLA) has affirmed the importance of EDI by including it as a core value and a primary goal in its 2018-2022 Strategic Plan. EDI is included in the American Library Association’s (ALA) Library Bill of Rights, and further expanded on in Equity, Diversity, Inclusion: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights.
Libraries try to create spaces where everyone is welcome, and to provide equitable access to information. Libraries do this for people from diverse backgrounds and origins, regardless of their beliefs or affiliations. But achieving goals for equity, diversity, and inclusion are not easy, and often take years of undoing old systems of inequity. It takes the work of library boards and library management: learning, listening, and responding in order to chart a new course for libraries to become more equitable, and to have more inclusive spaces for all.
Recent protests against racism across the United States have sparked a renewed focus on EDI initiatives in public libraries. The ALA released a statement condemning police violence against BIPOC, protesters and journalists, which was also affirmed by the Colorado Association of Libraries (CAL). Libraries across the United States have issued statements against racism, including statements from the Denver Public Library and other libraries in Colorado. Libraries have also responded by creating reading lists, community resource guides, and community conversation circles.
Here are some resources which may be helpful for library trustees looking to learn more about equity, diversity, and inclusion in libraries:
- Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (ALA)
- Equity, Diversity, Inclusion: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights (ALA)
- Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice (PLA)
- Advancing Racial Equity in Public Libraries: Case Studies from the Field (Government Alliance on Racial Equity)
- Advancing Racial Equity in Your Library (PLA) – recorded webinar
- A Chorus of Voices Doing Important Work: PLA’s Equity & Social Justice Workshops (Public Libraries Online)
Additionally, the Colorado Association of Libraries (CAL) is hosting a virtual conference on July 17: Power and Privilege at Play: Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity in the Library. Registration is open, and special rates are available to MPLA members.