The University Libraries’ Equity Committee was formed in 2018 by Dean Emerita Bonnie Postlethwaite as the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. In 2020, the committee decided together to change its name to better support its focus of exposing real structural inequities in our workplace and determining actionable outcomes that negate those inequities. Diversity and Inclusion are core to Equity, which is action based and the outcome to which we aspire.
Since its formation, the Equity Committee has become a highly influential group in the Libraries, providing education and taking action on a number of critical issues. Their charge is to advance the Libraries’ Values and support the UMKC Statement of Values, in fulfillment of Libraries’ strategic goals. To successfully demonstrate transparency, accountability, and inclusive practice, the Committee approaches its work in a collaborative, intersectional, and holistic manner.
The impact of the Equity Committee is clear in the ongoing transformation of the Libraries’ culture and practices, through both individual projects and ongoing initiatives. The Equity Committee:
- Developed a Call to Action in Support of Racial Justice, as well as specific ways individuals can support racial justice.
- Established structures to support UMKC Libraries’ workers facing acute financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Recommended a process for reviewing names of university facilities and other named entities to UMKC Administration, drafting a document which was foundational in establishing the Roos Advocate for Community Change initiative’s Building and Scholarship Naming Review Task Force.
- Created the Lean In Together initiative where library employees can anonymously submit their personal experiences in the workplace that are instances of discrimination, microaggression, systemic oppression, etc.; a system which is being replicated on the campus level.
- Initiated the Ethical Descriptions Project to examine the state of descriptions in current catalog records and metadata of digital collections.
Additionally, on an ongoing basis they are responsible for:
- Creating the Everyday DEI blog where all library employees can share their reflections on daily decisions, processes, and structures in their work that they have changed in support of equity and inclusion.
- Organizing education, training, and discussions for Libraries’ employees on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
- Reviewing library policies and procedures for necessary updates to support diversity, equity and inclusion.
- Assisting the Dean with annual review and update of the Libraries’ Inclusive Excellence Plan.
- Tracking the Libraries’ initiatives, projects, programming, collections, and day-to-day interactions that reflect our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Equity must be centered in all aspects of our work so that we can support anti-racism and challenge structures of white supremacy, and the Equity Committee has been foundational in building a culture where this can occur. The committee works closely with and has the full support of the University Libraries’ Administration in carrying out their work.
Dean of Libraries