Meeting Recap – 5/12/14

For our third meeting, Cindy and Ben worked with Betty Jeane Taylor from the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement who graciously agreed to facilitate a discussion of how how define diversity and what changes we would like to see.

Group members discussed diversity as including:

  • Race
  • Class
  • Gender identity
  • Sexuality
  • Disability
  • Students, staff, leadership
  • Organizationally – racial justice
  • Diversity of ideas/opinions

After taking some time to think individually about what we would change (relating to diversity)  in the Libraries and at UT at large if we could, we paired up to share our ideas . The rest of the meeting was spent discussing ideas with the whole group. Ideas that arose included:

  • Affirmative action in admissions – what a change in the “Top 10 Percent Rule” would mean for diversity, and how to address conflict that could arise from increased diversity
  • The lack of diversity in librarianship and, more specifically, at the iSchool. This means we have a less diverse group of GRAs.
  • The desire for more respect, understanding, and intolerance of discrimination in the workplace. Education, awareness, and training may help with this.
  • The complex gender issues within librarianship – a traditionally female profession within a traditionally male-dominated institution (higher ed).
  • The need to focus on diversity during the search process, from recruitment to interviews and hiring.
  • The need for the Libraries to project our professed values outwardly, and prioritize and advertise diversity both at the policy level and beyond policy. This includes a desire for authentic conversations about diversity within the organization.
  • The need to be aware of the impact of our rapidly growing city on students and staff, and think about how the challenges this may create could affect how patrons interact with us.

This meeting was full of lively discussion, and group members spoke of a sense of optimism at the end of the meeting. We did not have time to fully discuss next steps, but there was a sense in the room that action seemed more tangible and more attainable than it had in past meetings.

Betty Jeanne was kind enough to share her notes from our session, which are grouped by theme. I’ve included them here in case they provide further context.

1) What do we mean by diversity?

  • Race
  • Class
  • Gender identity
  • Sexuality
  • Disability
  • Students, staff, leadership
  • Organizationally – racial justice
  • Diversity of ideas/opinions

2) Students

  • Admissions policy
    • Affirmative Action
    • 10% Rule
    • Increase diversity – students
    • May be conflict when population is diverse (climate: faculty/staff)
  • Librarianship (I School)
    • Lack of diversity
    • Curriculum
    • Degree programs
    • Need to recruit and develop diverse students
    • GRA pool and nationwide
    • Counteracting stereotypes perpetuated in K-12 education
    • Racial justice in librarianship

3) UT Libraries

  • Search process, recruitment, hiring
  • Interviews
  • Network
  • Access
  • Need to prioritize diversity and share information about priorities
  • What does that look like?
    • Policy level (beyond policy)
    • Hiring
    • Authentic conversations internally
    • Organizational maturity (diversity of ideas)
    • Connect to more student groups


  • Education/Awareness
    • Staff should be educated about students, assumptions re: class
    • Develop sensitivity – understanding what diversity means (related to workplace)
      • Respect
      • Human understanding
      • Building human respect
      • Discrimination is not tolerated
    • Increased awareness about students/staff re: access/services
      • Consider Austin
      • Cost of living
      • History
      • Staff busses
      • At individual level
      • Mandatory educational course


Agenda for Meeting #3 (5/12/2014)

For our third meeting, we will have a guest facilitator,  Betty Jeanne Taylor. While the discussion will be guided by goals and ideas that DASIG co-chairs, Kristen and Jee, and meeting facilitators, Ben and Cindy, identified in collaboration with Betty Jean, it will be more free flowing than previous meetings, hence the reason for fewer exact discussion times.

1:00 pm – 1:05 pm: Introduce Betty Jeanne Taylor, Director of Diversity Education Initiatives (DEI) in the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement (DDCE).

1:05 pm – 2:30 pm: Discussion and dialogue with Betty Jean who will lead us through the following concepts and activities:

  • Define diversity: come ready to share what you think diversity is. We’ll talk about protected classes and bring in the ACRL Diversity Statement, etc.
  • Describe what needs to change at the UT Libraries and why: come ready to share what change is important to you. We’ll think about this in the context of ourselves, the Libraries and the University.
  • Discuss DASIG priorities and build our next steps, which may include a future workshop with Betty Jeanne Taylor , small group research initiatives, presentations, etc.

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.