The history of libraries and librarianship in America is rooted in intentional segregation and purposeful exclusion. In a field that has been and continues to be dominated by whiteness, this foundation underlies and influences the current structure of libraries. The CT State Library Division of Library Development (DLD) acknowledges that past and present inequities exclude many people, including Black people, indigenous people, people of color (BIPOC), individuals with accessibility needs, and many other people with marginalized identities, from the wide range of benefits provided by libraries.
Libraries and librarians are uniquely positioned to empower and support their various communities by upholding inclusion and equity of access through free services, programs, and initiatives. This obligation belongs to all of us. DLD believes that transformation must occur on the individual, collective, and institutional levels to be truly effective. As our colleagues at the Public Library Association (PLA) state in their current Strategic Plan, “transformation has moved beyond proactively engaging communities to reflect ongoing and ever-changing needs. This is a shared responsibility with and for our members and the communities we serve.” It is not only the institution’s responsibility to shift culture and practice; as stewards of our communities, it is the responsibility of librarians as individuals to prioritize ongoing social justice, diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (SJDEIA) professional development and self-education to build and maintain the new foundation needed to enable lasting systemic change.
The nationwide social justice reckoning that rose, and remains, in the same years as the COVID-19 pandemic, deeply impacted how DLD thinks about and foresees the future of library services. Ongoing feedback from the library community in Connecticut affirms the essential need for continued learning alongside actionable steps to evolve library services with a lens focused on SJDEIA. In addition, DLD’s consultants acknowledge their own need for further education and thoughtful transformation of their work. These reflections and needs informed the addition of a new goal in the CT State Library’s Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) Five-Year Plan, 2023-2027, to integrate SJDEIA into the daily practice of librarianship. Together, the LSTA plan and the DLD Diversity Plan will work in concert to drive the work of DLD forward.
DLD defines diversity as recognizing, valuing, embracing, and intentionally making space for the uniqueness and complexity of every individual. We uplift all facets of diversity, which encompass the entirety of every person, and we recognize that diversity is relational to the collective whole. Like our colleagues at the Public Library Association (PLA), we “commit to structural change and to taking action to end systemic racism and injustice.”
DLD’s diversity plan is a framework by which we, as an organization:
Solidify our commitment to dismantling the social and racial injustices that were intentionally permeated through our national history, systems, and structures
Cultivate and assess all programs, initiatives, and collections through an SJDEIA lens
Develop measurable expectations and goals related to SJDEIA for DLD staff and partners
Create a model for other institutions wishing to begin, expand, and/or enhance their SJDEIA work
We recognize that SJDEIA language, education, and initiatives are continuously advancing. We acknowledge that this diversity plan is a living document that will grow and develop as DLD’s level of understanding about SJDEIA expands, as our greater community’s needs evolve, and as we continually reassess. Our goals are designed to effect change in the knowledge, behaviors, and actions of the Connecticut library workforce and ourselves, resulting in better outcomes for all residents.
Support CT libraries and build their capacity to embed greater accessibility in their programs, collections, and environments.
Make the DLD website accessible for all users, following the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Best Practices.
Continue to make the DLD building accessible, following ADA Accessibility Standards.
Invite DLD consultants to share pronouns through methods including email signatures, screen names when attending virtual meetings and events, and during presentations.
Integrate a SJDEIA question to DLD job interviews.
Standardize SJDEIA language across job descriptions.
Determine SJDEIA training requirements and assessments for hiring committee members.
Determine SJDEIA training requirements and assessments for all board and committee members.
Draft a Land/Nation Acknowledgement for DLD that can be used as a model for Connecticut libraries. Connect the Land Acknowledgement to actions that honor original inhabitants of the land on which our facility exists.
Develop, maintain, and grow the DLD community asset map as an internal document providing an organized and standardized catalog of SJDEIA resources for consultants and other staff.
Engage in active outreach to build relationships and partnerships with nonprofits and other agencies throughout the state and beyond to provide leadership, learning, and tools to CT libraries.
Update forms, documents, and data collection tools to capture and measure SJDEIA efforts at DLD and in CT libraries.
Add a section to the speaker's application form asking presenters how they identify to self-audit DLD's progress in hiring diverse speakers over time.
Develop annual diversity plan evaluation and reporting process.
Customize and complete the American Library Association’s (ALA) Diversity Equity and Inclusion Scorecard as a division to inform additional SJDEIA-related actions.
Create a page or LibGuide to serve as the center for DLD's diversity plan and supporting materials.
Make DLD’s diversity plan to all users and share the process employed to write it with libraries in CT and beyond.
Update the DLD collection management plan and use collection audit and purchasing criteria to diversify the collection using an SJDEIA lens.
Develop a section on SJDEIA in the best practices for CT libraries self-assessment.
Implement ongoing monthly SJDEIA training for DLD consultants.
Require monthly work plans of DLD staff and add a section that covers what training has been taken and how it will be applied.
Include a question about SJDEIA work to the DLD staff annual review process.
Build an Accountability Group of people familiar with structural and systemic inequities and with Connecticut libraries to hold DLD accountable for progress towards actions and goals. The Accountability Group will meet at least twice annually.
Continue to grow and fund DLD’s Growing Equitable Library Services (GELS) initiatives to provide SJDEIA training and resources for CT libraries.
The practice of eliminating barriers to provide equitable opportunities to all people along the continuum of human ability and experience.
Holding an individual or organization responsible for pledged actions and accepting fault for goals that are not fulfilled.
Black, indigenous, and people of color. Refers to members of the non-white community; shifts away from terms like marginalized or minority.
Aligning with Peggy McIntosh’s “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,” acknowledging the colossal unseen dimensions of social systems to commit to and engage in redesigning them.
Recognizing, valuing, embracing, and intentionally making space for the uniqueness and complexity of every individual. Diversity is relational to the collective whole.
An ongoing process of assessing needs, correcting historical injustices, and dismantling the systems that create these injustices. Equity acknowledges that every person has different needs and ensures all people receive the resources they need to be successful.
Actively and consciously cultivating an environment where differences are affirmed and embraced. Inclusion is the responsibility of those in power, and requires all individuals to be treated fairly, to be valued and respected for their whole selves, and to receive equitable access to resources and opportunities.
Purposefully excluding individuals or groups from society based on factors including race, gender, abilities, and religious beliefs.
The smaller group, often one that is discriminated against and/or rendered powerless within a society.
The compassionate belief that all people deserve equal rights, equitable opportunities, and fair treatment. Social justice acts to change power dynamics among different groups of people, with a goal of collaboratively creating fairness and equity for all.
Altering the attitudes, beliefs, and values within a group, organization, or society to foster fairness and equity through measurable, sustainable, and impactful practices and policies.
Policies, systems, or expectations that exist within an organization, industry, or an entire society resulting in the unequal and/or unjust treatment of individuals in a particular ethnic group.
The normalization of white culture and white racial identity that creates a value system where whiteness is the standard by which other groups are compared, and where non-white people are viewed as inferior or deviant.
The belief that the white race is superior to other races and are the rightfully dominant group in society; the systems that reflect this belief and enable white persons to maintain power over other racial groups.
This project is funded by the State of Connecticut and the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Connecticut State Library.
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