Year in Review: DEIA Updates and Ongoing Work

Last year in our DEIA Statement of Commitment, we pledged to create a brave and welcoming space for the LMU community by committing to the principles of diversity, equity, inclusivity, and anti-racism (DEIA) in our collections, our spaces, our operations, and throughout all our work. In this post, we highlight a few of the campus collaborations and DEIA-related actions we have taken. As we transition to a new unit-level strategic plan, we are committed to continuing to interrogate and dismantle white supremacist structures that enable oppression and inequity in the library.

Building Inclusive and Anti-Racist Structures

students holding hands
Black Student Union post-election meeting and rally in 2016

In 2022, we received an Inclusive Excellence Grant from the university to create a digital, open educational bibliography of published and archival resources on the Tongva peoples. This project will update a 2015 version of the bibliography and highlight Indigenous voices and perspectives. We have added more than 300 citations (including Tongva art, podcasts, and YouTube channels) to the previous 600 citations in the bibliography. We are also tagging and organizing the works using the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs Classification Plan to make them easier for researchers to browse by specific topics.

The LMU community uses library resources such as books and scholarly databases to conduct research and build their knowledge. To adequately support these needs, library collections must be comprehensive, representative of a variety of perspectives and embodied experiences, and accessible to users to help support diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism. This year, cataloging staff have improved creator/contributor information to make it easier to search for own-voices material in the collections.

Collection development staff and librarian subject liaisons have also taken steps to improve the collections through an ongoing, multi-pronged approach. We continue to focus on identifying open educational resources that help lower the cost of class materials through our Open and Affordable Textbook Initiative and the Open Textbook Workshops, sponsored by a grant from the Statewide California Electronic Library Consortium. Librarians attended refresher anti-racist collection strategy training and frequently receive book lists highlighting diverse materials in their subject area through our vendors. We also continue to hone tools that assess the diversity of our collections, including evaluating call number ranges for coverage.

Our DEIA Statement of Commitment, drafted by the library DEIA Committee, is posted throughout the building and on the library website, where we track our DEIA-related accomplishments. We also built a DEIA research guide to educate and promote anti-racism, anti-ableism, anti-queermisia, and anti-transmisia by offering book and scholarly article suggestions, as well as videos and tools to help students find support and fight discrimination. Furthermore, as a result of the DEIA committee’s recommendations, librarians will be required to include evidence of how they have worked to promote DEIA in their performance reviews and annual department reports starting this year.

Community Collaborations

students holding a plate over a dinner table
Students at a 2017 Passover seder

The Inclusive History and Images Project (IHIP) is part of LMU’s anti-racism project seeking to address important gaps in under-standing our own institutional history by gathering stories and images from alumni and the greater LMU community. Librarians Lizeth Zepeda, Neel Agrawal, and Cynthia Becht joined the IHIP Steering Committee and have helped kick-start the initiative this year. We digitized existing images from University Archives and showcased those images in LMU Digital Collections, making them accessible online to a global audience. IHIP will continue to collect images, items, and stories from LMU alumni and community members, particularly items that show daily life at LMU, with a focus on under-engaged LMU communities, including: Black, Latino/a and Latinx, Asian American and Pacific Islander, Indigenous, LGBTQ+, and persons with disabilities.

At the 2022 CSJ Center Symposium, librarians Darlene Aguilar and Marie Kennedy, and Professors Amanda Apgar and Susan Scheibler discussed academic libraries’ role in serving people with disabilities. Hybrid learning presents benefits and challenges for students. For example, virtual chat offers synchronous, remote interaction but slow internet connections can limit access. Librarians have worked to make library instruction more accessible by using tools such as universal design for learning, adding in multiple engagement options like videos and chat, and flipped classroom methods that allow students time to process new material outside the class session. In the realm of electronic resources, such as online journals and databases, we have worked to include ADA and web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG) requirements in licensing contracts, as well as working with consortium partners to use our collective power to require more information about accessibility from electronic resource vendors.

While we continue to take steps to improve access and inclusivity in the library, there is still more to do. As a result, we have embedded this work in our 2021–26 unit-level strategic plan. During the drafting process of our new unit-level strategic plan, we met with groups of students, staff, and faculty to create a plan that represented the needs of the university community and the library organization. This new plan identifies areas where we can increase diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism: updating library staff hiring and support structures; integrating DEIA practices into information literacy instruction; implementing anti-racist and inclusive descriptive practices into collections metadata; reviewing collection areas for gaps; and training subject liaisons on best practices for building a diverse collection. We will also assess library spaces online and in-person for inclusivity and accessibility by implementing previous accessibility assessment recommendations, training library staff, and continuing to consult with LMU community members about their needs. Our work to improve diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism within the library collections, spaces, services, and staffing will continue.