IACRL Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee Report

Illinois Association of College & Research Libraries Forum (IACRL)

September 29, 2022

by Kent LaCombe, Illinois State University

The Illinois Association of College and Research Libraries Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee (IACRL DEI), is looking forward to an academic year of opportunities and outreach. The committee held its first meeting of the academic year in July. The group transitioned from a co-chaired organization to a single chair. IACRL DEI is newly chaired by Kent LaCombe from Milner Library at Illinois State University. Jade Kastel from Western Illinois University is serving as secretary. Other members include:

  • Laura Barnes from the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center,
  • Elena Carrillo at the University of Illinois Chicago,
  • Erik Chapman at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign,
  • Donna Goodwyn at Elmhurst University,
  • Blanca Hernandez at Erikson Institute,
  • Sarah McHone-Chase at Aurora University,
  • Rob Morrison at National Louis University,
  • Dee Anna Phares at Northern Illinois University,
  • Firouzeh Rismiller at DePaul University,
  • Ailyn Trujillo at Harper College,
  • and Jacqueline Zook at Northern Illinois University.

The committee is committed to continuing the foundational work carried out by membership over the course of the prior academic year. The IACRL team looks to foster engagement, activity, and visibility in the coming months. Members are developing collaborative connections with a variety of other statewide committees around shared DEI initiatives. IACRL DEI will be working with other ILA and CARLI committees toward the development of a shared, statewide list of DEI resources. Kent has volunteered to liaison with other committees as needed to help facilitate that initiative. Given the challenging state of the domestic socio-political climate and the increasingly organized threats to holistic information access, the work of information professionals and committees like IACRL DEI and similar organizations are more important than ever. Legal challenges to a wide berth of civil and individual rights including access to reproductive health care and information, to the basic rights and safety of LGBTQIAP2+ individuals, to accessing basic teaching materials that reflect the lived experiences of a vast array of marginalized BIPOC, and a host of other historically marginalized communities, threaten to undo laws that required centuries of suffering and sacrifice to codify. The committee stands firmly committed to the welfare, rights, safety, and defense of the information dependent communities we serve and the resources they require to develop and flourish.

Committee members are engaged in and planning a number of new additional activities for the coming academic year. At this year’s ILA annual conference, committee member Elena Carrillo is chairing the panel “Library Through the Looking Glass: Reflections on Embracing DEI.” The panel will discuss a 2019 initiative entitled IDEAS transform the Library; an approach for integrating DEI values and support structures across library institutions. This session and other DEI related presentations at ILA will highlight the opportunities inherent in incorporating intersectional and responsive DEI work into our professional lives and workspaces. The IACRL DEI Committee is committed to advancing these principles through a number of additional avenues in the coming year.

Kent reached out to the ILA Executive Committee and expressed the group’s interest in partnering with the Best Practices Committee (BPC). BPC is interested in developing a new DEI toolkit. Members of IACRL DEI are also actively planning future involvement in next year’s ILA offerings, including next year’s Spark! and annual conference events. Additionally, members are discussing partnerships with other committees, a representative(s) of the state legislature, or both, regarding the critical importance of freedom to read, access to information, the disproportionate effects censorship has on marginalized communities, and development of a related program or panel centered around Library Legislative Day or possibly one of the aforementioned ILA Conferences in the coming year. The committee continues to investigate possible partnerships with other DEI engaged organizations in the state.

The coming academic year promises to be both an exciting and challenging one for all manner of library and information providers as well as for the people we serve. The members of IACRL DEI are looking forward to further developing these and other opportunities in support of our diverse and dynamic information communities.

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