INSIGHT’s Library Excellence in Access and Diversity (LEAD) Award acknowledges initiatives to make academic libraries diverse, equitable, and accessible spaces. From increasing diversity in our hiring to countless DEIA focused events, the library is excited to share the initiatives that are being recognized by this esteemed award.
Empowering people to vote and promoting civic engagement are critical DEIA issues. AU Library’s groundbreaking “Absentee Ballot Day in the Library” initiative, launched in 2018 and is run each general election cycle to help students vote absentee. The Library created and maintains an updated “Request a Ballot by State” LibGuide to combat the bureaucratic challenges students face remaining engaged in their home communities. During the weeklong event, the Library provides students with expert assistance in navigating forms, free printing, ID photocopying, envelopes, stamps, and free notary services for the application and the ballot when received.
In Fall 2023, the Library hired two resident librarians in support of the ACRL Diversity Alliance Program. This forward-thinking initiative commits to expanding the hiring pipeline from underrepresented groups, and the Library stands tall and proud as a program founder and key participant in driving these transformative efforts. Our resident librarians teach classes, provide research assistance, and develop a solid foundation of professional skills to launch their careers.
The Library is not only a space for student study, but a space for sharing and displaying knowledge. In Spring 2023, partnering with AU’s Inclusive Excellence team and the Anne Frank Center, the Library displayed the “Anne Frank Traveling Exhibit.” Peer facilitators were trained to lead productive community discussions surrounding antisemitism, racism, and prejudice during tours of the exhibit, which saw President Burwell and AU’s Board of Trustees join. AU Library staff also developed a complimentary exhibit “The Roles of Libraries in Fighting Hate” paired with an anti-hate and banned book collection which saw dozens of copies checked out in the first week.
AU Library’s staff and faculty also dedicate their own time to advancing DEIA values. Our DEI Committee is on a mission to craft vibrant discussions, original training sessions, and engaging events that serve as catalysts for change. In 2023, committee members led a free and direct conversation about improving accessibility in our library for both employees and patrons. The Committee has an open invitation for staff and faculty to dive headfirst into the realm of DEIA and brings us together as a community at their annual Pride Picnic each June.
The Library would like to thank everyone who continues to contribute to our commitment to diversity, inclusivity, and accessibility. As 2024 begins, we will continue advancing our Strategic Plan goals and are excited to see the DEIA progress we have made by 2026.