Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Summit 2019

Loren Spears [August 7] The RI Office of Library & Information Services, along with the RI Library Association, Cornucopia of RI, and the URI Graduate School of Library & Information Services, held a day-long Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Summit on August 7 at the University of Rhode Island's Carothers Library. The purpose of the day was for library staff to come together for a statewide conversation about how to embed equity, diversity & inclusion practices into library services, programs, collections, and work culture.

80 librarians and library staff from all types of libraries came together for the full-day program that included opportunities for listening and sharing. Indigenous educator and Executive Director of the Tomaquag Museum, Loren Spears provided the keynote address, "EDI: A Narragansett Perspective." In her talk, Ms. Spears discussed the ways in which equity, diversity and inclusion intersect with Native American identity and culture. Diversity Talks, a professional development organization that aims to increase the cultural competency of adults by fostering a healing space for adults and youth to have culturally relevant and responsive conversations, led two simultaneous conversations on Implicit Bias. Teen facilitators led attendees through a discussion examining personal identities and the ways in which implicit bias is impacted by cognitive, social and environmental factors.

community organizations panelCheryl Burrell, the Associate Director of the RI Office of Equity, Diversity and Opportunity facilitated a panel of community organizations doing EDI work with a variety of populations. Panelists included Loren Spears, Omar Bah, founder of the Refugee Dream Center, Logan England, from Trans*Health Access at Thundermist, Marta Martinez, founder of RI Latino Arts, and Heather Schuy, from the Ocean State Center for Independent Living. Panelists discussed the work their organizations do, both for the communities they serve and within their organizations to create a welcome and inclusive space, and offered advice for libraries looking to do the same.

The day concluded with a design thinking workshop and Crowdsource 25-10 activity, to help attendees generate actionable ideas in response to the question, "How might we challenge our personal and systemic biases to affect organization-level changes when we return to our libraries?" Top ranked ideas after the activity included assigning a specific liaison to community organizations, auditing library collections for diversity, and scheduling staff trainings. Many higher-level topics were identified across groups, including Staff Training, Community Outreach, Programming, Collection Development, Space, and Policies. OLIS will use these topics to guide future continuing education and other EDI projects. For detailed outputs from the activity, a recording of Loren Spears' keynote, and additional information, handouts, and links from the EDI Summit, visit the OLIS Equity, Diversity & Inclusion LibGuide.

Ida McGhee and Donna Gilton  idea generating activity
Left: Cornucopia of Rhode Island members Ida McGhee and Donna Gilton
Right: Attendees participate in an idea generating activity