As part of our Strategic Planning objective to “review and enhance collections and services to better reflect diversity, equity, and historically underrepresented groups”, the Collection Diversity Task Force has drafted the following statement intended to guide collections decisions at the Gleeson Library.
Task Force members: Marina Cuneo, John Hawk, Michelle Lam, Gina Murrell, co-facilitated by Sherise Kimura and Elisa Rodrigues. Additional thanks to Nicky Andrews, Amy Gilgan, Annie Pho, Charlotte Roh, and Gina Solares for their review of this document.
Gleeson Library is dedicated to curating equitable and accessible collections in service of our diverse learning community. As articulated in our vision statement, the library is a collaborative and central partner in student success, faculty and staff excellence, research innovation, and social responsibility. We acknowledge long-standing systemic biases and structural inequities that have shaped how information is created, disseminated, organized, and accessed, as well as the role libraries have played in upholding these systems (Baildon et al., 2017; Bourg, 2016). To dismantle these structures based on power and privilege, we strive to build intentional collections that recognize, value, and embrace the diverse experiences and multiple identities within our community. These identities and experiences include, but are not limited to, race, ethnicity, gender identity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, ability, culture, language, geographic origin, level of education, religion, age, and size. By purposefully developing diverse, equitable, and inclusive collections, we aspire to foster a community of scholars and lifelong learners who engage in critical inquiry and social justice that reflects their own backgrounds and the backgrounds of others.
Given the myriad definitions, interpretations, and assumptions about “accessible collections,” “diversity,” “equity,” and “inclusion,” we collectively seek to ground ourselves first in a shared language and foundational understanding. After consulting a number of sources, including those from our professional library associations (American Library Association, 2017; Association of College & Research Libraries, 2012), we put forth the following definitions to inform our philosophy:
Accessible collections can be accessed by community members of all abilities and disabilities. We recognize that ableism oppresses and discriminates against people with disabilities and advantages those without disabilities (Adams & Bell, 2016, p. 304). The library prioritizes the selection and acquisition of resources that are accessible to all, whenever possible.
Diversity is the differences that exists between individuals and groups. Visible diversity can be observed when looking at someone. Invisible diversity includes diversity that can’t be seen, such as learning styles, abilities, personality traits, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, religion, educational background, work experience, socioeconomic status, and more. We recognize and value diversity in all its complexity, as well the uniqueness of each individual (American Library Association, 2017).
Equity acknowledges differences and seeks fair or equitable treatment. It recognizes that some groups were and are underrepresented or marginalized in many institutions, as well as in institutional policies, practices, and procedures. Equity, therefore, means ending these unjust, systemic practices and ameliorating conditions of disadvantaged groups (American Library Association, 2017).
Inclusion refers to creating and fostering an environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully, and are fully valued for their distinctive skills, experiences, and perspectives. To be inclusive is to provide equal access to resources and opportunities, allowing individuals to realize their full potential, as well as contribute fully to an organization’s success (American Library Association, 2017).
Social Justice strives to overcome and, ultimately, eliminate injustice, oppression, and exploitation to reorder society in accordance with principles of equity, recognition, and inclusion. Social justice requires us to face the structural inequities, historical legacies, and institutional patterns and practices that shape social relations and give advantages to some groups at the expense of others. Diversity and social justice are inherently linked; we cannot truly value one without addressing the other. (Adams & Bell, 2016, p. 4).
Library collections have historically reflected white, Western, Christian, cis-heteronormative, able-bodied men and excluded or sidelined authors, artists, and publishers that do not fit into these dominant and privileged groups. We address these injustices by actively acquiring and promoting content created by historically oppressed, underrepresented, and underserved communities that support and honor the diversity in the university and the larger global society. Likewise, we give serious consideration to material from self-published, independent, small, and local publishers.
Through continual engagement and outreach with our community, we aim to create collections that meet the information needs, interests, and abilities of our diverse community. We partner with academic and co-curricular programs to inform our collection decisions and welcome feedback from community members.
The library recognizes the economics of the current publishing system (Fruin, 2020) and the significant financial impacts on libraries (Association of Research Libraries, n.d.). As such, the library is dedicated to supporting scholarly communication initiatives guided by the principles of open access to knowledge and social justice. In addition to our Open Education Resources (OER) initiatives, the University of San Francisco Faculty Association Policy Board passed an open access policy that allows faculty to deposit their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts in the library's Scholarship Repository, bringing equitable access to research to all.
In order to meet our goal of developing collections that are inclusive of the needs of all persons in the community, the library’s collection strategies and practices will be responsive, and subject to periodic review. Through regular assessment of collection development, we aim to ensure our collections continue to support and honor the diverse communities we serve, detect exclusion of diverse viewpoints, and work to remove potential barriers to access.
We apply our values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice to inform our cataloging and metadata practices of organizing, describing, and facilitating discoverability of our collections. We implement, support, and participate in efforts to correct outdated, biased, and offensive descriptive metadata in Library of Congress (LOC) Subject Headings and other controlled vocabularies used for our local collections. We strive to adopt inclusive terminology in our library catalog and discovery tools to increase exposure and promote the representation of marginalized voices.
Adams, M., & Bell, L. A. (Eds.). (2016). Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice (Third edition). Routledge, Taylor & Francis. http://ignacio.usfca.edu/record=b2972330
American Library Association. (2017, September 7). ODLOS Glossary of Terms. ODLOS Glossary of Terms. http://www.ala.org/aboutala/odlos-glossary-terms
Association of College & Research Libraries. (2012, May 4). Diversity Standards: Cultural Competency for Academic Libraries (2012). http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/diversity
Association of Research Libraries. (n.d.). Expenditure Trends in ARL University Libraries, 1998-2018. https://www.arl.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/expenditure-trends.pdf
Baildon, M., Hamlin, D., Jankowski, C., Kauffman, R., Lanigan, J., Miller, M., Venlet, J., & Willer, A. M. (2017). Creating a Social Justice Mindset: Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice in the Collections Directorate of the MIT Libraries. https://dspace.mit.edu/handle/1721.1/108771
Bourg, C. (2016, March 20). New skills, same as the old skills. Feral Librarian. https://chrisbourg.wordpress.com/2016/03/20/new-skills-same-as-the-old-skills/
Fruin, C. (2020, January 31). LibGuides: Scholarly Communication Toolkit: Economics of Publishing. https://acrl.libguides.com/scholcomm/toolkit/economics
We gratefully acknowledge Creating a Social Justice Mindset: Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice in the Collections Directorate of the MIT Libraries and the University of Maryland Libraries' Collection Development Diversity Statement, which were influential in crafting our statement.
Approved by the Library Leadership Team, 4/1/21.