Week 47: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism: Planning and Programming at Countway

One of the most challenging problems medical libraries are facing right now, besides COVID is moving toward achieving a state of diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism. It is no secret our profession is primarily white and female. There are many efforts in our professional associations that have begun addressing this challenge and Countway administration and leadership have made a commitment to provide planning, guidance, training, and action on this issue for the years to come.

Our administrative team has released a draft diversity plan and invites all staff to provide feedback before the March 23rd staff meeting. The March staff meeting will be devoted to a discussion about this plan and we encourage and welcome your input.

In addition, a Countway subgroup (Michelle, Meredith, Matthew, Alison R., and myself) are working to identify a kick-off activity to start us off on a year-long journey of training and program planning required of all staff. We have met with two medical librarian diversity experts: Shannon Jones who is the director of libraries for the medical University of South Carolina in Charleston and is also on the board of the Medical Library Association and Beverly Murphy who is the assistant director for communications and web content management at the Duke University Medical Center Library and Archives and who also served as the first African American President of the Medical Library Association. Shannon and Beverly have been invited to be our guides on this journey and have written the book titled Diversity and Inclusion in Libraries, Countway will be purchasing a copy of the book for all staff. The subgroup will be meeting with Shannon and Beverly regularly to develop a specific set of training materials and action steps.

One core issue surrounding DEI concerns within a library is a lack of common definitions. Our initial work with Shannon and Beverly will be to establish a baseline understanding of the many forms diversity takes. As we have a more concrete plan and date for them to join us during a staff meeting we will let you know. Our primary target is the April staff meeting to begin this journey.

The administrative team is committed to making changes in the coming months and years. We recognize however, achievement takes time, change does not lend itself to only a few inexpensive and one-time solutions, it will require the commitment and effort of all Countway staff. We want to create an environment where Countway is welcoming and supportive for all members of our staff and the community we serve. This takes constant vigilance, hard work, and long-term effort and commitment from all of us.