Scholarship Report: Emily Soltis – Equity in Action: Taking Your Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives to the Next Level class

Event: Equity in Action: Taking Your Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives to the Next Level Class

Attendee: Emily Soltis – Technical Services Librarian, Austin Public Library

How does attending this event relate to your current role in your library?

The main goal of this class is to learn how to conduct a diversity audit of your collection. A diversity audit is an inventory of a collection that analyzes the data to make sure that we include a wide variety of points of view, experiences and representations. This falls right into my responsibilities concerning the collection. I have been examining our collection development and this course gave me some great tools to use while looking at the diversity within the materials we already own and while ordering new materials. Also, I plan to talk with everyone who orders materials to ensure that each order is audited to make sure that it is diverse on some level, this is called a book order audit.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

My favorite session was by Andrea Blackman from the Nashville Public Library. Andrea works in the Civil Rights Room, where they use historical photographs to teach police recruits, college students, and the public about racial issues in their city’s past. They have a huge collection of photographs that were given to them when a local paper shut down. These tools help community members explore, critically analyze, and combat systemic racism in their city. I love how she juxtaposed photographs of people of different races doing the same thing and how obvious the racism was when looking at the photographs. The program has been very successful in Nashville and is even being used in other cities.

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

This was on online class from Library Journal. It was presented over 3 weeks and included live webcasts, group discussions and homework. The downside for me was that they didn’t send any reminders and I missed the first two weeks! (my fault, I know, but a reminder would have been nice) Luckily, everything is in the modules online. I was still able to watch the webcasts and get feedback on the homework, however I couldn’t participate in the discussions, obviously. I would still recommend it to others. There were many different presenters who talked about a variety of topics involving equity and diversity, including ADA accessibility issues, diversity in picture books, programs in various libraries, and partnerships with the community. The discussions were interesting to read as questions were brought up during the presentation and I came away with many resources. The overarching goal of the course was to learn how to conduct a diversity audit of your collection and I feel that I am prepared to tackle it.