The University of Rochester and the Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI) have identified several institutional goals, among which are:
- Develop and sustain an infrastructure to support equity, diversity, and inclusion
- Enhance recruitment and retention of diverse faculty, staff, and students
- Cultivate a fair and just climate, culture, and community
- Advance the mission of the UR through an equity, diversity, inclusion lens
Below is how the River Campus Libraries (RCL) are working toward achieving these goals.
The foundation for this infrastructure at the libraries is formed by our diversity and inclusion statement, and our efforts to advance our mission in this area are guided by our Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Some of the committee's work includes offering staff the opportunity to attend presentation and discussion. Here are some examples of what we've done in the past:
- 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge
- Through the United Way of Greater Rochester, our organization engaged in focused conversations on subjects such as bias and privilege to deepen our understanding of how inequity and racism affect our lives and our community
- Plenary presentations
- "Unconscious Bias," Mark Puente, former director of Diversity and Leadership Programs for the Association of Research Libraries (March 2018)
- "Cultural Humility," Kristin Hocker, assistant professor of clinical nursing (March 2019)
- 'Hey, Let's Talk' sessions
- Small group discussions that allow staff to interact with the topic on a personal level
- In Fall 2018, sessions focused on active listening and developing empathy
- In Spring/Summer 2019, sessions focused on cultural humility
- Book club
- In Fall 2019/Spring 2020, staff were invited to join a "book club" to read White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo.
- Over five sessions, the group participated in discussions that examined each chapter.
- Conversation was facilitated by leaders from the RCL and the Susan B. Anthony Center.
Historically, library positions have predominantly been held by white people—at the University of Rochester and the library profession at large. One of the ways the RCL aims to contribute to the diversification of the field is the Career Exploration in Librarianship and Mentoring (CEILAM) program. CEILAM was created to introduce undergraduate students from underrepresented populations to library and archival work. Through self-directed projects, students are able to have experiences that will hopefully encourage them to consider a career as a library professional.
The University of Rochester Libraries is a member of Association of Research Libraries. RCL staff members participate in ARL's diversity and inclusion initiatives, such as the Kaleidoscope Program. Additionally, open positions are posted to relevant job sites, such as the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, and the dean of the University of Rochester Libraries is a mentor in the Leadership and Career Development Program.
Our efforts in this area are ongoing. Below are a few examples that demonstrate how the RCL has made strides toward a more fair and just learning, teaching, and work environment.
- Equity, diversity, and inclusion were integrated into each of our strategic priorities
- We created two multi-stall all-gender restrooms to afford all students, faculty, and staff, regardless of their gender identity, a comfortable restroom experience. One restroom is located on the 1st floor of Rush Rhees Library, and the other, which includes a foot-washing station, is on the 1st floor of the Carlson Science and Engineering Library
- We are continually addressing accessibility issues, such as working with Facilities to improve accessibility at the main entrance to iZone
- Library services are available outside of standard business hours to accommodate different schedules and needs
- We are creating transcriptions and oral histories and using closed captioning in our videos to make exhibits and projects more accessible, especially if they are online
- ASL interpreters are provided for events
Learning and teaching
- We’re working to increase access to learning materials through ongoing advocacy for open educational resources and open pedagogy
- The affordability and accessibility of course materials are being addressed through the Access to Course Textbooks initiative.
- Support for language classes is provided through multimodal learning objects
- To ensure multiple options for participation, we create synchronous and asynchronous content
- Our educational efforts go beyond the River Campus. We extend our learning and teaching resources to middle and high school groups, students from other area colleges, and professional development opportunities for faculty at other higher education institutions.
Programming and events
- We offer a broad range of voices by bringing in panelists and speakers from different ethnicities, cultural backgrounds, and professional experiences
- We provide opportunities to learn about specific subject matter, such as racial issues or Haudenosaunee music and art through a steady offering of pop-up events
- We promote cultural diversity through one-time events (e.g., lunar new year, Diwali, and mukbangs) and weeklong celebrations (e.g., International Education Week and Africa Week)
Collections and research
- We have developed policies to redress gender and racial imbalances within our library collections
- Research consultations are provided for courses taught at Groveland Correctional Facility
- There is a program of rotating themes to highlight a broad range of subjects within our collections, including Hindi, Urudu and Bengali literature; Arts & Activism; Year of Indigenous Languages; Ruben Flores, the Mexican Revolution; and PRIDE month.
- To help preserve the many personal and societal facets of the COVID-19 outbreak, the University Archives initiated Archiving Our COVID-19 Stories.
The RCL, including Rare Books, Special Collections and Preservation, works with community members to preserve the records of grassroots organizations and activists in Rochester and make them accessible for educational and research purposes. You can see some examples of this work through these projects and collections:
- With Syracuse University’s iSchool and RCL's CEILAM program: Inject information justice, equity, and community engagement into library and information science education and increase diversity and representation in librarianship
- With RIT and East High: Through a grant from the Pathstone Foundation, scholars, teachers, and local community organizers are undertaking a project to create an interactive website for antiracist curriculum materials that will be curated into map-based modules for K–12 students.
- With the Memorial Art Gallery: AIDS Exhibition Project, an exhibition and program that educates through art
- With KABOOM!: awarded a grant with 540 West Main to create a play area in Rochester's 19th Ward
- With iZone, the Greene Center, Rochester Center for Community Leadership, Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the Ain Center for Entrepreneurship: developed ways to address actual problems faced by community partners through the COVID-19 Challenge and the Innovation Challenge