In light of recent events regarding the egregious Theta Tau fraternity videos, the Syracuse University Libraries stand in solidarity with students, faculty, and staff in the face of the hatred displayed in those videos. The Libraries must serve as welcoming havens of safety, respect, openness, and accessibility to all members of our University community. Our doors are open to all who wish to pursue their creativity, research, and learning, no matter their skin color, ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender identity, or disability.
The Libraries will continue to strengthen its ongoing actions to promote diversity, inclusion, and equity. Examples of recent and current efforts include:
- The hiring and appointments of an Inclusion & Accessibility Librarian (one of the first of its kind in the country) and an Outreach Librarian to serve as leaders and contacts for inclusive efforts within the Libraries.
- The 2017 establishment of a Diversity & Inclusion Team to promote the value of diversity and inclusion and to help foster a supportive and inclusive environment among Libraries staff. Activities include providing training such as the Cultural Proficiency for Library Leaders workshop led by DeEtta Jones in 2017, surveying the climate within the Libraries, and advising Libraries administration on actions and best practices.
- The creation of programming and open forums on diverse topics, including our annual Human Library event and a February 2018 discussion on “Graffiti or Good-Luck Charm?: A Presentation on Symbols and Their Interpretations in Public Spaces.”
- SU Libraries was one of the earliest adopters of a Resident Librarian program, for new professionals in traditionally underrepresented groups. Our program began in 2009 and has led to six successful placements in academic libraries so far.
- Librarians have official liaisons to campus units such as the Office of Multicultural Affairs, Slutzker Center for International Services, Institute for Veterans and Military Families, and the English Language Institute.
- Every year we collaborate on important celebratory months and events, such as the Black and Banned Community Read-Out and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
- The Libraries are inaugural members of the Association of College and Research Libraries Diversity Alliance.
These and other similar activities are important and have been well received. Going forward, the Libraries will further promote openness and equity by:
- Requiring training for all library administrators, managers, and supervisors on implicit bias and best practices for creating inclusive and supportive environments.
- Conducting training on topics such as cultural competency, cultural humility, implicit bias, and bystander intervention so that staff can be proactive in addressing incidents. Administrators and managers will also take part in these trainings to emphasize that these skills are core to the Libraries’ key operations.
- Creating, revising, and making more visible our policies in areas such as free speech, collection development, and accessibility. These policies will put into action the ideals and goals of our One Library: Inclusion & Diversity strategic directions statement.
- Enhancing recruitment, hiring, and onboarding procedures that directly support diversity, equity, and inclusion, including working with search committees and with our forthcoming Library Operations Manager.
- Improving channels for feedback from patrons on diversity and equity issues.
- Working on ADA compliant physical spaces in our buildings, including adding new height-adjustable furniture this summer in the SCRC Reading Room.
- Coordinating with campus partners to offer and promote diversity and equity programming within the Libraries, and to offer safe spaces in which to have these difficult conversations.
In short, we aspire to foster an inclusive community of discovery and personal growth for the campus community, and to display in our daily work our shared values of collaboration, community, empowerment, inclusion, innovation, openness, respectfulness, service, and stewardship.
My thanks to the Diversity and Inclusion Team (Kate Deibel, Bonnie Ryan, Laura Benjamin, Nicole Westerdahl, Niki Perkins, and Tarida Anantachai) and the members of Libraries Management Team for helping to craft this statement. I look forward to working with Libraries’ staff and with campus leadership on these critical issues in the weeks and months ahead.
David Seaman, PhD
Dean of Libraries and University Librarian
Syracuse University Libraries