6 Month Plan: Meeting #2 (4-21-2014)

For today’s meeting, we spent some time discussing what we want to accomplish over the next 6 months as a group. We decided:

  • We want to bring in visiting educators from BFSA (UT Black Faculty & Staff Association) and PEFSA (UT Pride & Equity Staff Association)
  • We want to develop a model for annual leadership development in diversity in Libraries

We also discussed several readings in groups and reported out:

1) Joint Statement from the Presidents of AILA, APALA, BCALA, CALA, REFORMA, and ALA (Kristen, Ben, Praveen, Ann)

  • In response to discriminatory enforcement and tragic events surrounding Florida’s Stand Your Ground Laws, ALA, which will hold it’s annual meeting in Orlando in 2016, drafted this joint statement which outlines initiatives for outreach and education in the local community to promote awareness and inclusion in addition to reinstating the organization’s commitment to equity and a just society.
  • Our discussion included thoughts about the role white people play in collaborating with organizations and leaders of color when confronting these important issues.
  • We brought up the wish to bring Eugenia Beh in as a guest speaker – she’s a former UT librarian and a current librarian at MIT, in addition to being a past president and current member-at-large of APALA (Asian Pacific American Librarians Association).
  • Reading these standards made us all think about our own organizational culture and what it lacks in regard to diversity standards.
  • It prompted us to think that we need more information about what’s out there on campus – what diversity efforts exist? What alliances can we build? How can we be proactive and not just comply?
  • In the Libraries: What opportunities are there? We thought about accessible technology, ESL classes. We want to define the importance of cultural diversity competencies in the organization and how we can assess and implement them. 
  • We also discussed Debra’s master’s thesis on Latino/Latina engagement with libraries. Her study found that people are more likely to approach service desks in the library and ask questions when they see someone who looks like them at the desk. We recognize that this is a problem at our predominantly white service points.
  • This document lays out how people should treat each other at ALA functions – which in oversimplified terms comes down to ‘be nice!’
  • we talked about being aware of the perceptions of others – how we all need to know our own ‘privilege’ (someone mentioned a quiz on BuzzFeed about privilege). When we reflect on identity, we are often surprised. We also noted unintentional micro-aggression in librarianship.
We then discussed next steps. 
  • We want to compile a list of events and organizations on campus in order to identify common diversity issues on campus. We mentioned DDCE (Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at UT) and TexasTogether, a student organization that seeks to refocus attention away from Greek orgs on campus and towards initiatives that promote inclusion. 
  • We want to hold an ‘Intro to Diversity’ Workshop in the libraries. We discussed bringing in Ixchel Rosal or Betty Jeane Taylor.  We want to get an idea of what strategies organizations  and units on campus are using to promote diversity. 
  • We want to gather statistics about our student and staff population on campus.  
  • We want to research how other libraries and universities are approaching diversity – what can we learn? We mentioned talking to Mark Puente and Jody Gray. Perhaps we can develop an instructional program, maybe a webinar to which we can invite these individuals.
Our last musings were on leadership:
  • What role do grass roots efforts play in leadership in an organizations?
  • Leadership is a daily part of our jobs, whether we identify ourselves as leaders or supervisors or not.
  • Our leadership roles are opportunities for modeling our attitude about organizational issues. This includes our interactions with iSchool GRAs where we define the library profession. We set the tone in how we treat people, events, etc. in our job. 
  • We also talked about our role in bringing creativity and innovation into the Libraries and how we need to make space for everyone’s voice and perspective. 
  • In regards to this SIG, we realize that we will need to re-evaluate leadership roles in the group and redefine them as we move forward. We decided that next March we will conduct and annual review and assess what worked and didn’t work. 
  • For now, the structure is that each meeting will have 2 co-facilitators. One co-facilitator will be a co-facilitator for the next meeting along with a new co-facilitator – this is a staggered and rotating model so that former conversations are discussed alongside new ones.


Agenda (4-21-2014)

1:00-1:05: Check In: What I remember from last meeting… Round robin: each member shares one thing they clearly remember

1:05-1:10: Discussion: Share proposal for framework for achieving our goals: spend six months to build our skills and vocabularies then work together to determine how we’ll address our issues and achieve our outcomes

1:10-1:25: Small group discussion: In groups of four (based on reading for today), draft list of what skills/vocabularies we need to build for this work

1:25-1:40: Big group discussion: Come up with a core list of skills we’ll work on building

1:40-1:55: Discuss process for next steps: Small groups may be in charge of finding out what we need to do to build skills, we’ll be in conversation by email in the next weeks, by the next meeting we will be ready to set up a speaker/webinar/reading to discuss to begin our skill building.

1:55-2:20: Leadership Development: Discuss how the SIG prepares us as leaders – what does it look like to be a leader in our daily work?; Discuss roles of: co-chairs, co-facilitators, bloggers, attending members

2:20-2:25: Schedule next meeting, volunteer co-facilitator, blogger

2:25-2:30: Close Out: One phrase from the session that made you think, followed by “it made me think”

Defining Our Issues & Outcomes: Meeting #1

In our discussion about the blog, the DA SIG decided that authors of the blog entry after each session will:

  • share summaries of our process and discussions, and
  • include a list of action items from the meeting and the people responsible for those action items.

This blog entry begins the tradition! During the session we took notes on flip charts so that we could build on our concepts throughout the meeting. Here we’ll share our process – so that we can reflect on and consciously shape future sessions – and our findings together.

Setting the tone: we are working together to build each of our capacity for leadership in diversity. We started out with a collective discussion of what we hoped to get out of the group, and in the process we discovered that we each have specialized skill sets and experience with diversity training that will be a help to the group and our vision.

We want to:

  • Generate action within our organization including: policy recommendations, statement to administration, organizational development processes
  • Participate in an ongoing professional discussion: nationally, energy is building around discussions and work for racial justice
  • Recruit and hire diverse students, staff, and administrators
  • Support user service: visibly reflecting the communities we serve, conducting mindful outreach, improving access, acknowledging segregation and lack of diversity in central Austin
  • Become leaders:
    • Campaign for change
    • Influence faculty, students, and administrators
  • Learn together with a focus on issues including: racial justice, multiculturalism, gender diversity, underrepresented communities, equal opportunity employment, socioeconomic class
  • Connect with university resources including LGBTQI and dis/ability ally training, the Ombudsperson
  • Build coalition: with student organizations
  • Share our experiences with: diversity training, ethnic employee organizations, research, hiring, personal/systemic exclusion and inclusion

Action Item: Create a google doc or other shared space to document any diversity training skills we bring to the group.
Responsible: Kristen
Date by:
Two weeks before next meeting

Norms of the Group:
As we begin a difficult and exciting journey together, all of us want to continue to want to attend the meetings. We talked about what would make us feel heard, make our time feel valued.

We expect to:

  • Begin and end our meetings on time
  • See each other arrive on time
  • Listen to each other without interrupting
  • Understand/be challenged to understand different listening styles
  • Turn off our cell phones or leave them at our desks
  • Speak from our own experiences rather than from others’
  • See and build connections from one session to the next
  • Make measurable progress together

Action Item: Review and uphold the norms of the group; suggest others or changes as necessary.
Responsible: Everyone
Date by:

Issues & Outcomes:
At this first meeting we set out to define the vision for the group this year. Together, we brainstormed issues we want to address and outcomes we want to see. (There was much overlap between the two.) We discussed these and then used post-it notes to vote in THAT-Camp fashion for the three issues and two outcomes we’ll take on over the next year.

This year we are focusing on these ISSUES:

  1. Diversity in the hiring and recruitment process
  2. Staff development around diversity issues
  3. Engagement with diverse students

This year we seek to produce these OUTCOMES:

  1. Draft (and revise) a working definition of diversity for the Libraries
  2. Generate a diversity speakers series and diversity-focused events (focus alternately on staff, faculty, students)Additional issues and outcomes we raised will inform our process and may become part of the future work of the SIG:

Additional issues:

  • Reflecting on our own identities
  • Diversity as a factor in team building
  • Diversity and expectations in organizational culture
  • Disparity between people’s self-perceived communication skills and inappropriate behaviors

Additional outcomes:

  • Diversity training
  • Best practices in diversity
  • Make diversity approachable/desirable for all staff

We discussed next steps towards focusing on the three identified issues and achieving the two identified outcomes:

  • We decided we would build a structure for staggered co-facilitation of each meeting; that is, one co-facilitator from this meeting will co-facilitate the next meeting with a new co-facilitator who will co-facilitate the following meeting with a new co-facilitator, and so on.
  • We decided we would share out the summary of the meeting along with a draft agenda for the next meeting and recruit co-facilitators.
  • We talked through our schedules and identified a few dates to put into a Doodle Poll to schedule our April meeting.

Action Item 1: Create Doodle Poll & schedule next meeting.
Jee & Kristen & all
Date by:
One week after the meeting

Action Item 2: Share out the blog entry/summary of the meeting.
Jee & Kristen
Date by:
Two weeks after the meeting

Action Item 3: Share out draft agenda for the next meeting.
Jee & Kristen
Date by:
Two weeks after the meeting

Action Item 4: Recruit a co-facilitator for the next meeting.
Jee & Kristen & all
Date by:
Two weeks before the next meeting

It Made Me Think:
We started a tradition of closing the meeting by reflecting on our work together. We each shared one word or phrase that made us think followed by the phrase “it made me think.” We started out:
“Reflecting on our own identity, it made me think.”
“Racial justice, it made me think.”
“Student experience, it made me think.”