Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives: Feedback from ILA 2021

Illinois Association of College & Research Libraries Forum (IACRL)

March 19, 2022

by Kent Lacombe (ISU), Elena Carrillo (UIC), Gwen Gregory (NIU)

The Illinois Association of College and Research Libraries (IACRL) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee assumed an active role in soliciting feedback at the Illinois Library Association’s (ILA) 2021 Annual Conference. Integrating with the conference theme of breaking down barriers and building up communities, representatives from the DEI Committee were present throughout the conference, accumulating shared information and ideas from the community of attendees.

Key amongst the committee activities that day was the creation of breakout rooms and JamBoard sessions where attendees were encouraged to share and submit ideas and concerns related to DEI. Each breakout session followed a specified theme. Organizing topics included ways in which IACRL can assist with DEI activities, how academic libraries can engage with campus initiatives and DEI organizations, how to integrate DEI into instruction, and other related topics. Through both discussions and JamBoards, attendees shared issues and ideas of interest and areas of concern.

Image of an ILA Conference JamBoard

Some ILA Conference JamBoard Commentary

Comments from participants included various suggestions. The ability of the IACRL DEI Committee to serve as speakers, as a clearinghouse for ongoing activities, and the committee’s capability of facilitating DEI discussions were all discussed.

Academic libraries were recognized as well-positioned to facilitate relationship-building and cooperation across campus DEI organizations. LibGuide software was recognized as an available and applicable tool for sharing DEI information (it can be used as a clearinghouse for speakers and programming as well).

Another important topic discussed was the surveying of students and integrating their perspectives into DEI initiatives. Effective integration of DEI topics and perspectives into the classroom as well as into student campus publications was likewise an idea expressed during the session. Specifically, covering relevant topics that concurrently generate enthusiasm for diverse perspectives and experiences was recommended. Members were interested in celebrating different histories, cultures, and perspectives within library assignments and teaching. Equally important was recognizing and examining power dynamics on campus and in the classroom was also considered, examining how white supremacy can shape classroom power dynamics, content, and discussions. Attendees pointed out how campus experts usually have to traverse a complicated landscape that requires educational support, monetary resources, and especially time. For historically marginalized communities these barriers can be especially high or even impregnable.

The IACRL DEI Committee is grateful for the participation of attendees at the ILA Annual Conference. The information the team received will be added to a growing body of data to draw upon and apply across our cooperative institutions. The committee would like to thank everyone who attended these sessions for their perspectives, suggestions, and professional contributions at the annual meeting, and look forward to working with you all in our shared endeavors to continually evolve our institutions into ever more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and culturally enriched centers of holistic community and opportunity.

If you have additional feedback or questions for the DEI Committee, please contact us using our anonymous feedback form.

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