At its January 2021 meeting, the ACRL Board of Directors approved a proposal to pause ACRL’s awards program and appointed a task force to undertake a critical review of the program and make recommendations for its future. This pause presents an opportunity to ensure all ACRL awards align with the Association’s Core Commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, and for the awards program to emerge in a stronger position in both solid finances and inspired purpose.
The task force is currently soliciting feedback from a variety of stakeholders and members of the academic library community and has conducted an environmental scan of other associations to explore alternate models and benchmark effective practices for recognizing achievement. Share your feedback in a brief survey by Friday, October 29. Complete details are on ACRL Insider.
The American Library Association (ALA) is pleased to announce the return of the Spectrum Doctoral Fellowship Program. Building off the success of the Spectrum Scholarship Program which provides one-year academic funding for LIS students who identify as American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino or Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander, the Spectrum Doctoral Fellowship Program seeks to recruit diverse LIS faculty members. The application form opens on November 4, 2021 and closes on December 10, 2021. More information can be found in the press release.
ACRL is dedicated to creating diverse and inclusive communities in the Association and in academic and research libraries. This core commitment permeates the work of the Association, cutting across all ACRL sections, committees, interest and discussion groups, and communities of practice. The Association will acknowledge and address historical racial inequities; challenge oppressive systems within academic libraries; value different ways of knowing; and identify and work to eliminate barriers to equitable services, spaces, resources, and scholarship. ACRL Plan for Excellence, Revised to include Core Commitment November 2018.
Learn more about ACRL's core commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion in this video featuring 2019-20 ACRL President Karen Munro.
To support academic librarians and to align ACRL's strategic plan with ALA's Strategic Directions, the ACRL Board of Directors approved, in the fall 2018, a new Core Commitment to Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) to be added to the ACRL Plan for Excellence. The goal of the Core Commitment is for EDI to permeate all areas of the association, so that ACRL is poised to best support equitable, inclusive, and diverse librarianship. Through this commitment, ACRL will acknowledge and address historical racial inequities; challenge oppressive systems within academic libraries; value different ways of knowing; and identify and work to eliminate barriers to equitable services, spaces, resources, and scholarship.
ACRL 2021 Call for Participation Equity Statement
In support of ACRL’s Core Commitment, the ACRL 2021 Coordinating Committee developed an Equity Statement that is included in the ACRL 2021 Call for Participation. The committee strives to develop an inclusive conference program that reflects the library community’s diverse range of race, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, economic background, age, and/or ability. In addition, to allow as many individuals as possible to participate as conference presenters, the committee established presentation limits for the first time at an ACRL Conference. An individual can present a maximum of two times at ACRL 2021, regardless of session format or presenter role.
ACRL 2021 Land Acknowledgement
The Association of College & Research Libraries, a Division of the American Library Association acknowledges the land and water it originally intended the conference to gather on; there are 29 tribal nations in Washington. The ancestral homelands of those American Indian tribes that have inhabited this place for centuries, include the Chehalis, Colville, Cowlitz, Hoh, Jamestown S’Klallam, Kalispel, Lower Elwha Klallam, Lummi, Makah, Muckleshoot, Nisqually, Nooksack, Port Gamble S’Klallam, Puyallup, Quileute, Quinault, Samish, Sauk-Suiattle, Shoalwater Bay, Skokomish, Snoqualmie, Spokane, Squaxin Island, Stillaguamish, Suquamish, Swinomish, Tulalip, Upper Skagit, and Yakama. In addition, the ACRL recognizes the Duwamish, Wanapum, and Chinook; tribes working for recognition by the U.S. federal government and have a long history in present-day Washington. Full statement on the ACRL Conference website.
Progressive Stacking Questions
ACRL encourages the use of an optional strategy called progressive stacking when asking questions. This is a technique intended to give marginalized voices a chance to speak, particularly in an environment where there is a dominant group. Learn more about progressive stacking in the General Information section of the conference community.
ACRL Core Commitment and Site Selection & Policies
In Spring 2020, the ACRL Board approved updates to the ACRL Guide to Policies and Procedures for Section 10.8: Site Selection Criteria and Procedures and Section 11.1.10: Site Selection to reflect ACRL's Core Commitment to EDI. Updates included that, "ACRL is committed to making all professional development programs, to the best of their ability, inclusive and accessible to all members. This includes programming, educational components, and accessibility. ACRL is dedicated to creating diverse and inclusive communities in the Association and in academic and research libraries. These commitments permeate the work of the Association, cutting across all ACRL sections, committees, interest and discussion groups, communities of practice, as well as our professional development programming and site selection."
ACRL 2021 Conference presenters were required to view two webinars (Implicit Bias and Uncovering Privilege and Addressing Microaggressions), which were developed by the American Library Association (ALA) Office of Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services (ODLOS) before preparing for their presentation. The purpose of these webinars was to provide context and understanding of the concepts of equity, diversity, and inclusion, and help ACRL 2021 presenters understand how to incorporate these concepts into their presentations.
ACRL is active in advocating for policy and legislation through the ALA Public Policy and Advocacy Office in DC, as well as through coalition work with groups such as the Open Access Working Group and the Library Copyright Alliance (LCA). Each year, the ACRL Government Relations Committee develops, with input from ACRL member leaders and the ALA Public Policy and Advocacy Office, the ACRL Legislative Agenda, which provides information meant to guide legislative advocacy at the national level—specifically focusing on policy issues of concern to academic and research librarians. The full 2021 ACRL Legislative Agenda can be found on the ACRL website and excerpts pertaining to the ACRL Core Commitment to EDI are included below:
The Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education Act (Aim Higher Act) seeks to create a commission to develop voluntary guidelines for postsecondary electronic instruction materials and related technologies. Coursework materials are increasingly delivered in digital forms with e-books, PDF articles, and interactive web content delivered from the learning management systems, databases, and the open web. Whereas traditional tangible print items present obstacles to students with disabilities, digital content offers opportunities to expand accessibility for these students.
Impact on Academic Libraries
The development of federal guidelines will directly benefit academic libraries and their users because libraries create and provide access to expansive online materials that are considered "postsecondary electronic instruction materials." The campus library is a central point of access for students in higher education, and academic libraries also provide direct instruction to students and create many instructional materials in digital formats. Therefore, these guidelines will help ensure that library instruction materials and resources are also accessible to all. This not only increases the accessibility of instructional materials for users with disabilities, but it also benefits all users by allowing them to access the information they need in the ways they need to, and that works best for them. Finally, while there are existing standards that this act will collate into an annotated list, these new guidelines will help to situate accessibility best practices into the context of higher education instruction, which academic libraries play an integral part, and libraries could use them to increase and ensure the accessibility of our instruction services and resources. The ACRL University Accessibility Interest Group is available to provide additional input and support for this work.
ACRL has not stated a public position on this legislation.
There are two prominent areas of need/advocacy associated with the push for broader federal funding for higher education. One of these areas of need has emerged as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on university budgets. Another relates to matters of equity, specifically in relation to the affordability of accessing higher education and the student debt crisis, and has also been amplified by the pandemic.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has noted that over 44 million Americans are directly impacted by student loan debt. Further, minority communities, and women of color in particular, are disproportionately represented within these figures... Under such circumstances, any positive movement on student debt reform or debt forgiveness will also further the cause of social equity in education.
As noted by ALA, equity, diversity, and inclusion are fundamental values of the association and its members. Therefore, equitable access to higher education must be seen as foundational to the work and advocacy of ACRL and its members. So that ACRL members might gain a clearer understanding of these issues and their impact on libraries, the Government Relations Committee recommends ACRL leadership develop a formal policy statement on these matters.
Hosted by ACRL President Jon E. Cawthorne, the 2021 ACRL President's Program, "Making Change: Organizing for Action While Caring for Each Other," will take place from 2:15 – 3:15 pm CST on Thursday, June 24, live during the conference. The program will feature Mariame Kaba, Founder and Director of Project NIA, and Dean Spade, Associate Professor at the Seattle University School of Law, with moderation by Emily Drabinski, Interim Chief Librarian at The Graduate Center, CUNY.
The 2020 ACRL President's Program, "Shifting the Center: Transforming Academic Libraries through Generous Accountability, " (YouTube recording) was hosted by ACRL President Karen Munro and featured keynote speaker McKensie Mack, anti-oppression consultant, researcher, facilitator, founder of #BoundaryWork, and former executive director at Art+Feminism, the session will explore how doing this work—holding ourselves, each other, and our institutions meaningfully accountable for inequity—can be an opportunity for generosity, humor, and care. The program was held Wednesday, June 10, 1:00 p.m. Central and was offered free of charge as part of ACRL Together Wherever Virtual Event.
In 2019, ACRL President Lauren Pressley's President's Program Planning Committee focused their work on the topic of EDI, and created an online EDI discussion series blog which is now available on ACRL LibGuides. To continue the discussion, the ACRL President’s Program at the upcoming 2019 ALA Annual Conference in Washington, DC, entitled Equity, Diversity, Inclusion... and Leadership: Where Do We Go From Here?, was held on Saturday, June 22, 2019.
ACRL is working to create more welcoming and inclusive environments within its membership groups and member engagement. Since the approval of the Core Commitment, the objectives for all four goal areas, Value of Academic Libraries, Student Learning, Research and Scholarly Environment, and New Roles and Changing Landscapes, have been updated to include EDI. In the spring 2019, the ACRL Diversity Committee was renamed the ACRL Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and a new charge was approved by the ACRL Board of Directors. With this new charge, the ACRL EDI Committee is poised to best support, oversee and coordinate forthcoming EDI initiatives.
In 2019, a Board Working Group worked with the ACRL Appointments Committee to review and make the appointments process more inclusive. Appointments marketing was updated to include more welcoming language on the ACRL volunteer form, webpage, and social media. Members who volunteered for a committee or section appointment had the option to answer several demographics questions. ACRL compiled this data, and ACRL President-elect Karen Munro shared a summary report. ACRL will continue to include these optional demographics questions, so it can better understand and work to make the appointments process more inclusive.
Division-level Committee Reports
In the 2020-2021 division-level report, division-level committees were asked to self-report EDI activities and accomplishments that took place during the past program year (July 1, 2020 - June 30, 2021). Those responses have been compiled and are included in the "ACRL Membership Group Activities" box in the "Get Involved" tab.
Joint Board of Directors/Budget & Finance Committee EDI Working Group
In Fall 2020, the ACRL Board created an ACRL Joint Board of Directors/Budget and Finance Working Group to review with a financial lens how ACRL is supporting its Core Commitment, and what gaps might need to be addressed. The group's charge is to, "Further explore and study existing equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) work across ACRL through a financial lens, and consider how to prioritize and fund social justice or antiracist work that will be beneficial to workforce development, training and professional development." The working group's final report is expected in fall 2021.
In September 2020, ACRL President Jon Cawthorne invited McKensie Mack, Founder and Managing Director of the McKensie Mack Group (MMG) and the Creator of #BoundaryWork, to lead a three-part Leadership Council series. ACRL leaders attended the three-part series, and participated in reflective pre-work to work towards the following goals. The ACRL Board reviewed feedback and ideas from the brainstorming sessions at its November 16, 2020 Fall Board Virtual Meeting.
The ACRL Board of Directors met in June 2021 to identify short-term priorities for ACRL for the next one to two years. The need for priority setting was brought about by significant changes in higher education, academic libraries, and ALA that necessitated identifying and drafting short-term priorities. In July 2021, a Board Working Group took the outcomes from the priority setting discussions, and updated the annual report/work plan template, which now includes a section on short-term priorities (i.e., Equity, Diversity and Inclusion; Communication and engagement; and Membership). Committee leaders were asked to include their short-term goals as part of the their 2021-2022 work plans.
Since the Core Commitment was approved in November 2018, ACRL has awarded the following scholarships and memberships for underrepresented individuals and those working at underrepresented institutions.
Spectrum Scholars & ACRL Mentor Program
ACRL is supporting Lyndon Batiste as its 2020-21 Spectrum Scholar. Lyndon Batiste is a student at the University of Alabama School of Library and Information Studies.
Also in 2020-21, the ACRL Dr. E.J. Josey Spectrum Scholar Mentor Program paired 33 ALA Spectrum Scholars interested in careers in academic librarianship with ACRL members to mentor them this year and has now paired a total of 246 Scholars with mentors since its establishment in 2003. This year the committee overseeing the program introduced several new tools to help the pairs develop their relationships, provide suggested discussion topics, and prompt them to communicate with each other regularly.
About the Diversity Alliance
To support EDI, ACRL is home to the ACRL Diversity Alliance. The Diversity Alliance’s goal is to increase the hiring pipeline of qualified and talented individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. Since its conception in 2017, the ACRL Diversity Alliance has provided a network for member institutions that commit to at least a two-year diversity residency position at their libraries. There are currently almost 40 institutional members of the 2021 Diversity Alliance.
The ACRL Board of Directors approved the creation of the original task force at its June 27, 2016 meeting. After the original task force completed its work, the ACRL Board of Directors approved, on April 8, 2020, a new Diversity Alliance Task Force, charge, tasks, composition and timeline. The new task force will seek to expand member benefits and consider how to include institutions that are committed to diverse hiring practices, but may not have the resources to create a residency. The task force's final report will be due June 2022.
ACRL is committed to supporting its Core Commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, and is looking to make all aspects of the organization more inclusive. In the coming year, ACRL will continue to offer EDI professional development opportunities for its leaders and members, work to update the 2012 Diversity Standards: Cultural Competency for Academic Libraries, and seek input and guidance from its Board of Directors, members and other key stakeholders to further review its processes and initiatives.
ACRL welcomes input from its members throughout the year. If you have feedback or would like to submit a request to the ACRL Board of Directors, please complete a Board action form. Upcoming Board meeting dates and Board document deadlines will be posted on ALA Connect. Comments and suggestions pertaining to EDI can also be sent to ACRL Program Manager for Strategic Initiatives Allison Payne at email@example.com.
ACRL is active in advocating for policy and legislation through the ALA Washington Office, as well as through coalition work with groups such as the Open Access Working Group and the Library Copyright Alliance (LCA) for joint work with ALA and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). To increase ACRL's visibility and influence in the arena of higher education policy development, legislation, and best practices, ACRL speaks out on important issues, including equity, diversity and inclusion. When ACRL signs a letter of support or responds to a request for comments, it is shared through ACRL communication channels, including ACRL Insider, and added to the ACRL Speaks Out webpage.
ACRL Supports APALA and ALA in Condemning Anti-Asian Hate Crimes (March 24, 2021)
ACRL stands in solidarity with the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) and amplifies ALA’s Executive Board in recognizing and condemning anti-Asian hate crimes. ACRL affirms APALA’s March 3, 2021, statement which noted that the association “recognizes and strongly condemns the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes that have permeated our country over the past year. Our Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander communities have been deeply impacted by attacks that have caused physical and psychological harm.”
ACRL supports ALA in condemning violence and racism towards Black people and all people of color. ACRL endorses the statement of the Black Caucus of The American Library Association (BCALA), which condemns the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers within the Minneapolis Police Department. ACRL endorses the statement of the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association, which denounces the rise in racism and xenophobia against Asians and Asian/Pacific Americans in wake of the outbreak of COVID-19.
ACRL Statement on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and the Print Collecting Imperative (October 7, 2020)
In keeping with its Core Commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, ACRL recommends that North American research libraries continue to collect and preserve valuable print materials, even as the global COVID-19 crisis and associated financial circumstances may compel them to shift, at least temporarily, to digital formats where available. The association strongly urges libraries to take a deliberate, measured approach to any shift, temporary or permanent, toward an e-centric collection development model, an approach that balances fiscal exigencies with equity, diversity, and inclusion imperatives; takes full stock of the important research and teaching that cannot be accommodated through electronic resource collecting alone; and ensures support for continued print collecting in relevant areas.
The Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) Board of Directors is aware that ALA Midwinter attendees have reported experiencing violations of the conference Code of Conduct, including incidents of racism, harassment, and discrimination. We laud the strength of those who have shared their experiences to draw needed attention to violations, and we abhor the systemic inequities in our profession that have normalized discriminatory, harassing, and racist behaviors.
In March 2021, ACRL joined 36 other organizations to sign the ACLS Statement Condemning Anti-Asian Violence. ACRL stands with ACLS and is, "angry and saddened by the recent increase in incidents of violence against Asians and people of Asian descent in the United States and around the world.” ACLS and the signatories “encourage educators, lawmakers, and community leaders to take this moment to listen closely to Asian and Asian-American voices and work with them in stemming this latest scourge of prejudice and violence.”
We commit to learning more and we encourage you to learn more about ways to support anti-violence and anti-hate efforts against the Asian community:
Joint Statement on Legislative Efforts to Restrict Education about Racism in American History (June 16, 2021)
ACRL joined a number of organizations in co-signing an American Association of University Professors, the American Historical Association, the Association of American Colleges & Universities, and PEN America joint statement stating their “firm opposition” to legislation, introduced in at least 20 states, that would restrict the discussion of “divisive concepts” in public education institutions. The statement notes that "Americans of all ages deserve nothing less than a free and open exchange about history and the forces that shape our world today, an exchange that should take place inside the classroom as well as in the public realm generally. To ban the tools that enable those discussions is to deprive us all of the tools necessary for citizenship in the twenty-first century."
Statement Urging Retraction of Executive Order Prohibiting the Inclusion of “Divisive Concepts” in Employee Training Sessions (October 13, 2020)
ACRL joined 28 organizations in signing onto a statement from the American Historical Association urging the retraction of the recent executive order prohibiting the inclusion of “divisive concepts” in employee training sessions carried out within the federal government and by federal contractors and grantees. The statement argues that "Rather than banning the 'divisive concepts' from any educational venue-whether a classroom, a museum, a national park, or a workplace training session-historians seek to draw public attention to these concepts so that they can be discussed, debated, and ultimately challenged. Unity is not achieved by pushing division under the rug; it can be won even in the face of difference."
The ACRL Board of Directors endorsed on August 26, 2019 an American Historical Association (AHA) statement on Domestic Terrorism, Bigotry, and History. The statement notes that “As the largest organization of professional historians in the world, the AHA condemns the recent deployment of histories invented in the interest of bigotry, violence, and division. Many critics of white nationalism have admirably insisted that ‘this is not who we are.’ If the statements of white nationalists do not reflect who Americans are or want to be, they do compose an undeniable part of our collective past. Those aspects of the nation’s heritage should be exposed and overcome, rather than ignored or celebrated. Knowledge of history can help Americans achieve that goal.”
“ACRL wholly supports the American Historical Association’s moving and timely statement on nativism, violence, and history,” said ACRL President Karen Munro of Simon Fraser University. “The sentiments addressed in the statement reflect our Core Commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion’s focus on acknowledging and addressing historical racial inequities.”
ACRL is one of more than 30 organizations to sign on in support of the AHA statement.
On May 27, 2020, the ACRL Board of Directors signed the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association's (APALA) statement, which "condemns (the) rise in xenophobia and racism due to the novel coronavirus outbreak." ACRL stands with APALA, and "rejects coronavirus-related hostility, anti-Asian stereotypes, and racism against Asians, Asian/Pacific Americans, or anyone perceived to be Asian." As of June 2020, over 800 individuals and organizations have signed the pledge.
On June 1, 2020, the ACRL Board of Directors endorsed the statement of the Black Caucus of The American Library Association (BCALA), which condemns the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers within the Minneapolis Police Department. The "Statement Condemning Increased Violence and Racism Towards Black Americans and People of Color" includes that "Since George Floyd is the latest in a long line of recent and historical violence against Black people in the United States, the BCALA takes this moment to encourage BCALA members to take proactive and preventative measures in the fight against racism."
In August 2019, the ACRL Board of Directors approved for ACRL to join eight organizations, institutions, and Native American communities to endorse the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials. The Protocols were developed by nineteen Native American and non-Native American archivists, librarians, museum curators, historians, and anthropologists and published in 2007 with support from the American Library Association Office for Diversity, the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the National Library of Medicine, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, The Bay and Paul Foundations, the Northern Arizona University Institute for Native Americans, and Mary and P. David Seaman.
On July 24, 2018, ACRL joined the National Federation of the Blind and eight other library, research and advocacy organizations to express strong support of the passage of the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act, S. 2559. The letter states that, “The implementing legislation embodies a consensus approach which balances the need to expand access to information for people who are blind around the world with the responsibility to properly safeguard the interests of rights holders.”
Oversees the ACRL Diversity Alliance and completes the following tasks:
To oversee and coordinate ACRL’s Core Commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion, as described in the strategic plan. Work with the Board and other units to initiate, advise and mobilize support for appropriate action related to issues of diversity, equity and inclusion in academic librarianship—including recruitment, advancement and retention of underrepresented groups to academic and research librarianship and the promotion of library and information services for diverse library users.