DIVERSITY AS A CORE VALUE IN ACADEMIC LIBRARIES Millie Gonzalez, Reference Librarian Marion Slack, Reference Librarian Debbie Hogan, Periodicals Supervisor Laura Wilson, Reference Librarian Debbie Percher, Reference Librarian
Diversity as a Core Value in Academic Libraries Research on best practices to support diversity within academic libraries specifically in these areas: the climate of the library recruitment outreach library instruction collection development
Diversity as a Core Value in Academic Libraries Framingham State University supports diversity as it relates to racial/ethnic identity, nationality, sexual orientation, gender, religion, physical ability, teaching style, learning style, and political philosophy.
Library Climate The climate of the library is determined by both its social and physical environment . The social aspect is the level of camaraderie perceived between the staff as well as between the staff and patrons. The physical environment consists of things that can increase the ease of use and comfort level for the patrons.
Library Climate By recognizing the various needs of the library patrons and implementing the tools reflective of these needs, libraries can create a climate of inclusion and comfort that will draw the students to use the library in a variety of ways.
One of the first steps in improving diversity in the library is to evaluate and determine whether the library is currently reflecting the needs of the patrons.According to “Seeking the Best Path: Assessing a Library’s Diversity Climate,” what is needed…is “a body of empirical research…involving staff in developing the focus and direction of a diversity initiative.” (Coats, Goodwin & Bangs, 2000)Through assessing the diversity climate of our library, we can provide students and faculty with an ‘interactive experience’ where they can see “how valuable the library really is and enjoy spending time there.” (Sanders, 2005) Library Climate
One way to evaluate the present climate is for library staff to take a survey. In the article ClimateQUAL, a survey was developed to address a number of issues surrounding the climate of the library, such as “diversity, teamwork, learning and fairness”. The authors believe that “an optimal level of diversity relates to climate for service and defines the concept of a healthy organization, which is ‘better able to fulfill its service mission’ and that the climate of an organization does have a ‘direct and perceived impact on the service experienced by customers.” (Kyrillidou and Baughman, 2009) Library Climate
To monitor the climate, a committee comprised of library staff, student assistants, and faculty could be formed to focus on such issues as whether the library reinforces a climate of inclusiveness. A benefit of this will be to “emphasize the library’s visible commitment to diversity” as well as “encourage people to talk about diversity issues.” Talking is the first step to change. A committee can create accountability. “Without following a regular and systematic planning and evaluation process, it is easy to fall into the we’ve always done it this way trap.” (Overall, 2009) Library Climate
An aspect of diversity is a commitment to recognize and appreciate the variety of characteristics that make individuals unique in an atmosphere that promotes and celebrates individual and collective achievement. To create this atmosphere, the American Library Association in part envisions this to be a “high level of service to the membership in an environment where respect, appreciation, equity, and inclusion are core values.” (Gulati, 2010) Library Climate
Library Climate Some ways of improving the climate of the library:
Review and improve the space used in the library. The space should be inviting. There should be group study spaces, and quiet study areas.
Have proper lighting, support accessibility, contain outlets throughout and offer accommodations for the hearing and visually impaired.- Place effective signage. Space should be coherent, “a library should make sense. A patron should be able to figure out the library in a matter of a few minutes with good signs and designs.” (Crawford, 1999) It should clarify the pathways of finding where to go.
Create displays conducive to the ethnic/cultural diversity of the student population. - Create a ‘nook’ for specific populations like ESL students or those studying languages. May contain reference collection of foreign language dictionaries, ESL dictionaries, grammar books, etc. (Burger, Rizzo, 2005). This area might also be helpful for international students who lack proficiency in English.
Library Climate - Most important in creating a good climate in the library is to have friendly staff who provide good service where questions are answered and pertinent direction given. Sensitivity training and other appropriate training as needed should be offered periodically.- Organize a committee comprised of library personnel, student assistants and faculty to discuss the climate of the library and how to make improvements.
Recruitment According to past president of ALA, Camila Alire, recruiting librarians from underserved populations: “can identify with people in the minority communities; who can assist in the necessary outreach efforts to serve those minority residents; and who can service as role models…” (Neely, 2007)
Recruitment The recruitment process of librarians and of students may include: traditional methods used internships residency programs fellowships mentorships partnering with associations
Recruitment Be flexible. Be creative. Hire minority students workers to affirm the library’s commitment to diversity. Proactively seek students by connecting with departments across campus. Create an orientation program for all student workers that focus “on welcoming cultural diversity and recognizing discriminatory behaviors.” Form a committee to work with HR to recommend ways to correct limited minority hiring in a productive way.
Recruitment Barriers: - lack of qualified applicants - ignorance about where to find qualified minority applicants - constraints in university screening and recruitment procedures - union contracts
Outreach Reach out to the entire campus population Attend and host events Online via social networking Online tutorials with captioning Informal “mixer” social events Diversity Committee, Outreach Committee Resource guides for specific groups (international students, GLBT studies)
Outreach International Students Increasing numbers in American higher education May not have exposure to open stacks, call numbers, free borrowing, online databases, and librarians who offer research assistance Create webpages dedicated to information for international students Translate these pages into foreign languages used by students on campus
Outreach Students with Disabilities Percentage of students with disabilities who attend higher education is rising A staff member from disability services should educate the library staff about campus services for the disabled Library staff should learn to use Windows and Macintosh universal-access capabilities Incorporate accessibility features into websites
Outreach GLBT students Library can be a resource for information on either self-discovery and/or research on sexuality Establish a relationship of trust among GLBT patrons Librarians should be confident in answering questions related to GLBT topics Self check-out methods for students who might feel self conscious to check out materials on GLBT topics
Library Information and Literacy Instruction Overall Goal To serve the learning needs of the school’s diverse student groups and nontraditional students, the Reference and Instruction librarians need to broaden the reference and instruction services offered. The following are recommendations to accommodate the needs of institutions’ diverse groups in order to increase the chance of student success.
Library Information and Literacy Instruction General Recommendations for all students - In collaboration with institution’s departments, provide librarians with sensitivity training to increase awareness of students’ needs. - Appoint designated librarians to assist the diverse student groups. - Provide sign-up library instruction sessions of various levels throughout the semester. - Customize library instruction sessions to complement each class’ curriculum.
Library Information and Literacy Instruction General Recommendations (cont’d) - Include a “roaming” librarian during library instruction workshops to provide additional assistance - Provide a variety of print handouts, online tutorials and additional practice sheets and material - Provide phone and online services for the students to contact reference assistance and to access library services via:
text messaging, mobile phone apps
email, instant messaging, online video capabilities, other Web 2.0 applications.
Library Information and Literacy Instruction Students with Disabilities – General Recommendations - Establish a committee of librarians, students with disabilities, faculty and representatives of the institution’s disability services to discuss ways to improve library information services - In conjunction with the Office of Disability Services, train librarians on various sensitivity and disability issues as well as the operation of all special equipment - Provide personalized assistance as needed to individual students with disabilities .
Library Information and Literacy Instruction For the Hearing Impaired - Provide computers with headphones and speech-to-text capability. - Provide closed-captioned capability for online tutorials.
Use sign language and finger spelling techniques during library information classes, if feasible.
Use online chats (text) to communicate with students who are hearing impaired.
Library Information and Literacy Instruction For the Visually Impaired - Provide computers with large screens, large keyboards, and high screen magnification software. - Provide computers with speech-to-text capability. - Provide free standing, low-vision magnifying equipment for print reading material.
Provide audio tracks for all online tutorials.
Library Information and Literacy Instruction For the Physically Disabled Students - Provide computer desks and printers (on height platforms) that allow wheelchair access. - Provide library staff assistance (student workers) to assist in accessing material from the stacks.
Library Information and Literacy Instruction For the Multicultural/Ethnic Groups who require additional assistance - Offer tours of the library and preliminary library instruction classes prior to the beginning of the school year. - Offer sign-up instruction sessions in the use of computer programs and electronic library resources at the beginning of each semester. - Create a Library Peer Information Counseling Program, which would be comprised of fellow students. - Instruct students in the use of “Paper Navigator” to provide a project timeline for the paper writing process.
Library Information and Literacy Instruction For the International & ESL students - Create a special page on the library’s website for foreign students with instruction in various foreign languages. - Consult with the department that handles international students or ESL services to customize services to better meet student needs. - Provide animated tutorials and/or a short, simplified English instruction tutorial. - Provide individual or small groups library tours of the facility.
Target the individual’s needs according to his/her major
Instruct students in how to use the library equipment
Maintain language dictionaries at the reference desk.
Library Information and Literacy Instruction For the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered (GLBT) Students - Create a committee that consists of GLBT students, faculty and library members to best determine GLBT students’ needs. - Provide an “ask-me-in-private” reference service to allow GLBT students privacy when requesting information on sensitive research subjects. - Provide a special webpage on the library website for GLBT students which would provide directions to print resources within the library as well as links to online catalogs and other GLBT resources.
Library Information and Literacy Instruction For the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered (GLBT) Students – (cont’d) - For classes dealing with GLBT issues, provide an embedded librarian to assist students online with research questions that pertain to the class curriculum.
Include GLBT-specific terms in library instruction classes.
Library Diversity Research Committee For the Distance Learners - Include a separate webpage on the library website that will provide distance learners with instructions and guides on how to use all the library services from online. - Include a large variety of online tutorials and PowerPoint presentations to guide students on how to use the library and its services. - Offer an embedded librarian service for online classes. - Provide course-integrated guides and tutorials to assist online students. - Offer evening and weekend library instruction sessions for students in hybrid classes.
Collection Development Libraries can infuse diversity throughout library collections as it supports the institution’s academic curriculum and serves to create an inclusive climate.
Collection Development Library should have a collection development statement: Specifically stating multicultural and multidisciplinary collection and retention policies Top-level link on website to diversity resources webpage Web page can contain collection development policy, librarian contact information, links to diversity related events, etc.
Collection Development - Use non-traditional approaches and resources for collection development - Regularly evaluate the collection - Educate entire library staff on the collection as well as methods to search for materials related to diversity topics and issues
Purchase popular print and media materials targeting diverse communities
Weed, evaluate the collection, target to the research needs of the diversity related disciplines
Appoint subject liaisons to keep collection current, to ensure accurate reflection of the curriculum and promote interests of the campus
Library Diversity Research Committee How is the library at Framingham State University supporting diversity? - Active involvement in University Diversity Committee - Researched best practices on diversity - Formation of Library Diversity Committee in the fall semester
Library Diversity Research Committee Questions? Our research and presentation is available on our library blog: http://whittemorelibrary.wordpress.com/ References are available in an open RefWorks database: http://goo.gl/ezNih