- Achieving Diversity: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians
This is a first, a manual on how to achieve diversity directed at librarians. This practical guide provides examples of planning, assessing, and implementing programs and services centered on diversity. It gives libraries a game plan for making diversity and inclusion core values in the organization.
Barbara Dewey, dean of the University of Tennessee Libraries, and Loretta Parham, director and chief officer of the Atlanta University Center, capture some of the excellent programs presented at the fourth National Diversity in Libraries Conference, sponsored by the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL) and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) held in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2004. The contributors have a variety of experiences with diversity initiatives in academic libraries, library education, and in historically Black colleges and universities. They each share their journey to have an impact on the work environment. Whether we call this a manual or a compilation of diversity research, programs, and services, this resource is important for documenting the ways in which libraries are diversifying the face of the librarianship to match the communities where they work.
The manual is divided into four sections: how to create a successful diversity plan; how to recruit and retain a diverse workforce; how to improve diversity through services, collections and collaborations; and samples of successful diversity documents. Many of the chapters present a plan for diversity with good tips and suggestions. Because each contributor shares his or her own philosophy and plan for implementing diversity, there is a lot of redundancy in the book. There are only so many times one can define diversity, review the changing United States demographics, and rationalize the benefits of diversity for everyone in the workplace. For someone new to addressing the need for diversity in libraries, however, this information will be beneficial.
The most memorable and refreshing chapter in the book is "Best Practices for Placing Diversity at the Center of Your Library" by Tracie Hall, the American Library Association's diversity director. Hall uses the framework of basketball to discuss the implementation of diversity. She coaches the reader to "get in and stay in the game" in spite of feeling overworked, undermined, under acknowledged, and [End Page 123] marginalized. "You're working to ensure diversity so that library users and staff from all walks of life can feel validated, supported and welcomed and find the resources they need to ensure personal growth, social and economic mobility, and lifelong application." (p. 34) Hall goes on to encourage the librarian or diversity committee to maximize skills, be a team player, strategize every move, market what you do, be versatile, and not to give up. This chapter will give new life to those who are frustrated by the slow progress of change.
Librarians have been working on creating a more inclusive workplace for years. I enjoyed reading about the newer collaborative efforts between libraries and communities and the networking of new minority librarians. Publishing this information promotes diversity research and establishes the need for librarians to share their experience and knowledge. As an attendee at the Diversity Now: People, Collections, and Services in Academic Libraries Conference in 2002, I and other minority librarians were inspired to continue the discussion of diversity. It was impossible to attend all of the interesting sessions at the conference, so I was pleased to see the proceedings published (Teresa Y. Neely and Kuang-Hwei Lee-Smeltzer, Diversity Now: People, Collections, and Services in Academic Libraries—Selected Papers from the Big 12 Plus Libraries Consortium Diversity Conference, New York: Haworth Information Press, 2002). This is a valuable and complementary resource to Achieving Diversity that explores the options for diversity research and programs in academic libraries. Some of the articles published in Diversity Now are cited in the bibliographies in Achieving Diversity, thereby establishing a core of research in the field.
Achieving Diversity capitalizes on the current trend of universities and colleges to add diversity as a...