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In order to engage in antiracist practices, libraries and library workers must hold themselves accountable individually, organizationally, and structurally. Effective accountability uses assessment methods to evaluate and guide where resources and energy should be directed.
2.1 – Antiracist Objectives & Strategies for Libraries
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 1 Our libraries, their workers, and the communities that they serve are all unique, as are their needs. It is for this reason that there is not a singular plan or path that all libraries and library workers can use for assessment and accountability. Each individual, organization, and library must do the work to map out how assessment and accountability works best in their contexts. While there is no singular path forward, there are components each individual should consider in order to implement change. Below are a set of key components needed for successful assessment and accountability measures.
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 Framework Implementation Example: Start by assessing your organization’s understanding of EDI by reviewing and completing the 2021 Equity Scorecard for Libraries and Information Organizations.
2.2 – Hiring,Retention & Advancement
¶ 4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 6 For decades, the library profession has viewed and used “diversity” or “minority” recruitment as the principal strategy for addressing the lack of representation of minoritized racial/ethnic populations in the profession. Numerous library associations (i.e. the American Library Association and the Association of Research Libraries), as well as several library and information science programs throughout the US and Canada, have long histories of hosting recruitment and career developmental programs which, in spite of some valid critique in the literature, have yielded some benefits to the participants in the programs, to the associations that host them, as well as to the profession at large. However, with rare exception and in spite of millions of dollars of investment over time, these programs have done little more than maintain stasis with respect to representation of BIPOC individuals in the LIS workforce. Strategies to retain BIPOC employees are anecdotal and are not readily found in the literature. To some degree, advancement has been addressed–at least in the academic library sector–through leadership development programs for early- and mid-career librarians, but participation in such programs are mostly limited to employees of well-resourced institutions. Libraries, library organizations, and the profession at large must remain committed to collecting demographic information about the workforce, but must also adjust categories as constructs change with respect to racial/ethnic identity. Additionally, the LIS profession must develop systematic approaches to measuring the climate of the workplace for employees from minoritized populations. This requires the disaggregation of data and the ability of leaders and managers to accept feedback without judgement or defensiveness, and that they act on the input provided. Measuring climate systematically (at regular intervals) and creating interventions that will improve the experiences, engagement, and the sense of belonging for employees from racialized identities. Evaluation, retention, or advancement processes should include the consideration of whether such policies have a differential impact (short- or long-term) on employees of color than on those from majority populations.
¶ 5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 2 Furthermore, data must be collected and tracked concerning the opportunities for leadership and development that are provided to library employees from minoritized groups. Processes must be employed to help managers and supervisors analyze and track bias when assigning leadership tasks, stretch assignments, or other career-enhancing opportunities. The LIS profession must track the representation of minoritized individuals in leadership and managerial roles whether titular roles in organizations (managers, directors, supervisors, team-leaders, etc.) or comparable roles in civic organizations, associations, professional communities of practice, and other contexts where communities of color have not had, historically, access to power, resources, or opportunities to advocate for themselves or for other marginalized people.
¶ 6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 Framework Implementation Example: Move beyond traditional evaluative methods used for all staff to develop specialized ‘temperature check’ opportunities for BIPOC staff. Offered in the form of safe space conversations or anonymous surveys, temperature check questions and conversations should be used to inform and improve policies and practices that prevent BIPOC staff from finding earned success in their roles.
2.3 – Strategic Planning
¶ 7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 The work of racial equity requires that individuals and organizations not only examine the past and understand the degree to which policies and practices have created and sustained an inequitable present, but also create strategies for reenvisioning and recreating a more equitable future. Traditional strategic planning processes often do not accommodate full integration of goals and objectives that advance racial equity without the explicit naming of it as an organizational and/or institutional priority. Therefore, strategic planning must articulate the development, implementation, iteration, and measurement of changes to policies, procedures, and behaviors that specifically address racial equity. Strategic plans that center racial equity are rooted in accountability and marked by an actualization of successful processes and outcomes. Conversely, a failure to identify racial equity as an organizational priority may be ineffective in creating change.
¶ 8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 Framework Implementation Example: Strategic plans shouldn’t be developed in a silo. Find ways to include the perspectives of BIPOC staff in the development of an inclusive strategic plan. If your staff is largely homogenous, find ways to turn outward and engage community members in the planning process.
2.4 – Policies, Procedures, and Norms
¶ 9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 1 Many of the policies, procedures, and norms employed and enforced in libraries are rooted in white supremacy, and are often exclusionary to BIPOC individuals. This stems from the fact that in most settings, including libraries, cultural practices and behaviors associated with “whiteness” are normalized and considered the standard or expected. As a result, policies, procedures, and norms meant to fix a problem or improve access and service, can cause harm for BIPOC communities. While not necessarily intentional, this harm emerges as a result of implementing policies without considering how they will affect different populations.
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- Both physical police presence and internal policies that negatively impact patrons.
- Inconsistent policies around library spaces that may consciously/ unconsciously create barriers to service for BIPOC communities.
- Descriptive/metadata practices that use offensive or pejorative/outdated terms
- Library Fines & Fees
- Requiring ID in order to access library services
- Overemphasizing academic credentials in the hiring process
¶ 12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 Therefore, libraries must assess policies and procedures through a lens of racial equity to identify if and how they are causing harm to both BIPOC patrons and employees. To this end they should always consider the possible unintended consequences or adverse impacts a policy, procedure or norm could have, which racial or ethnic groups could be affected by it, and what can be done to minimize or prevent negative consequences or impacts.
¶ 13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 1 Framework Implementation Example: Before implementing new policies, procedures, and norms administrators consult with a diverse group of stakeholders to assess the potential harmful consequences of these.
2.5 – Sharing the Work: BIPOC Communities & Allies
¶ 14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 4 The burden of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) work, including racial equity, often falls on members of minoritized communities: people of color, Indigenous people, people with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQ2+ community. While it is important to have members of these communities engaged in the work of EDI committees, working groups, or task forces, they should not be the only ones in them. Trying to ease the burden on minoritized communities by having only allies work on these groups is also faulty as it is not taking into account the perspective of these communities. Therefore successful, useful, and equitable racial equity work requires participation from both BIPOC individuals and their allies. In addition to easing the burden off BIPOC employees, mixed participation ensures buy-in from multiple sectors and a sense of collective ownership, accountability, and responsibility.
¶ 15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 1 Framework Implementation Example: Understanding that coalition-building is central to moving the work forward. Examples of this exist as REFORMA,BCALA, APALA, drafted statements in support of Black Lives Matter and in spoke out against violence being perpetuated against Asian communities.
2.6 – Accountability in Racial Equity Work
¶ 16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 1 Racial equity working groups, committees, or task forces must have a clear scope and mandate as well as accountability mechanisms to ensure equity, transparency, and trust within their organizations. They must also employ equitable practices in areas like decision-making (e.g. consensus building), discussions (e.g. adjusting to different styles of communication), membership composition, and duration of terms.
¶ 17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 Regardless of the composition of the committee, working group, or task force, it is imperative that proper compensation is offered to the members. Compensation can take different forms from monetary increases or promotions to a redistribution of responsibilities as to provide those working in EDI with the time and space they require to do the work . This not only removes the burden of EDI work and makes it equitable but also denotes that the organization considers the work as necessary for all the other duties and responsibilities that help meet the organization’s strategic goals.
¶ 18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 Framework Implementation Example: Organizations structure racial equity and EDI committees using the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committees: Getting Started Guide – UBC Equity & Inclusion Office.
2.7 – Solidarity & librarianship
¶ 19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 The act of solidarity requires moments of stasis and movement. The practice of solidarity in libraries can be characterized by the ability to both acknowledge the ways in which our policies, programs, services, and internal structures cause harm to BIPOC communities, and by actively identifying systems and structures for mitigating these harms. Solidarity in Libraries is also circumstantial, requiring organizations to develop action plans in support of when, and how to act as a vocal amplifier for underrepresented or minoritized voices. It is equally important that within the scope of these considerations, Libraries understand when to remain silent, effectual listeners who recognize and respect the importance of providing space for BIPOC stakeholders (internal and external) to speak, be heard, and guide conversations. Of critical importance is the understanding that solidarity is not performative, experimental, or rooted in expectancy; rather it is the sincere demonstration of the libraries’ authentic interest in protecting BIPOC communities.
¶ 20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 Framework Implementation Example: Commit to providing space in conversations (whether casual, in the workplace, etc.) where the voices of BIPOC people are centered and prioritized. This includes listening for and amplifying those messages that may be hidden, ignored, or suppressed.
2.8 – Power relationships within the field
¶ 21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 Racial equity can only be realized when power differentials between BIPOC and white individuals are equalized and when communities of color have the agency, rights, opportunities, and access to resources to ensure that they can thrive. The inference is that historical and systemic inequalities exist and must be deliberately addressed and remedied. This process is facilitated by ceding power and providing opportunities for BIPOC individuals to develop and cultivate power. This can only be accomplished by guaranteeing that minoritized populations will have a significant role in envisioning and implementing their desired future if they so choose. Ways in which power differentials show up in everyday practice and which must be countered at a systemic level include:
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- Power structures within work distribution (ability to work from home)
- Overrepresentation of people from majority cultures/identities in manager roles
- Examining what is considered “canon” in material resources
- Power one holds in deciding whether to commit to equity work (it’s a luxury for some)
¶ 23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 1 Framework Implementation Example : Do not be complicit in the silencing of BIPOC cohorts. Use your power and privilege to amplify and give credit to the work of BIPOC contributors.