About the Library Diversity Council

Current Members | History of the Council | Definition of Diversity | Diversity Celebration & Award | Quilt

Current Members

Members are elected by library staff for terms as noted in the parenthesis. Please contact us at librarydiversity@umich.edu.

Sanam Arab (2014-2017)
Wei Chen (2013-2016)
Jacqueline Freeman (2013-2016)
Carlos Garcia (2014-2017)
Athena Jackson (2014-2017)
Michael McLean (2012-2015)
Sara Samuel (2013-2015)
Kate Saylor (2012-2015)
Jennifer Talley (2014-2015)
Jocilyn Wagner (2015-2016)

Britain Woodman (2014-2017)
Jeremy York (2013-2016)

Additional information about LDC and LDC's bylaws can be found on the staff intranet (library staff only).

If you have questions about the Library Diversity Council's structure or events, please contact us at librarydiversity@umich.edu.


History

The University of Michigan Library Diversity Council, (known before February 2012 as the Library Diversity Committee), had its roots as the Diversity Task Force, which was formed in 1985. This task force helped to launch workshops on themes involving diversity and anti-racism for library staff and acted in an advisory capacity to communicate and promote the ideas of fairness and respect for all Library employees, regardless of race, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation or handicap.

In 1989 the ad hoc Diversity Task Force became more formalized and a permanent Library Diversity Committee was formed with a rotating membership of representatives from all library job classifications. This newly formed committee worked to:
• Advise library administration on issues relating to diversity
• Be a resource for library staff on issues of diversity
• Serve as a model group for understanding and cooperation across racial and cultural lines
• Implement activities promoting diversity within the library

Some early activities the LDC established were:
• Library Amity Program
• Discussion groups coordinated by committee members as a spin-off of staff workshops on racism and diversity issues
• A film series and discussions on diversity topics
• Promoted mentoring of new employees

Other work by the LDC through the years has included:
• Encouraging multicultural exhibits within the library
• Sponsoring speakers on diversity topics
• Participation in the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Symposium
• Participation in themed semester events
• Sponsoring a book group on topics of diversity
• Encouraging & sponsoring workshops related to diversity within the library system

In 1994 the Library Diversity Committee was considered such a cutting-edge organization it was included as a chapter in the book Cultural Diversity in Libraries edited by Donald E. Riggs and Patricia A. Tarin. Proceeds from the sale of this book were donated to the Library Diversity Committee’s activities.

The Library Diversity Council has participated in the American Library Association Diversity Fair, held at the annual ALA conference. The committee created posters and displays on the University Library’s diversity program for a number of years.


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Definition of Diversity

LDC members helped to write a new definition of diversity for the library in 1996. The goal of this new definition was to encourage the idea that all individuals are diverse in some ways and library staff should respect and welcome everyone, not just specific groups. This definition acknowledged that equality requires effort, resources and commitment.

Diversity is defined as all the characteristics that can be used to describe humans. We are all diverse in many ways. It is the unique intersections of these characteristics that define each individual’s diversity. A few examples of these characteristics include:

Age Language(s) spoken Ancestry Marital Status
Cognitive style Nationality Cultural Background Physical ability or appearance
Economic background Politics Ethnicity Race
Gender Religion Geographic background Sexual Orientation

Diversity Means All of Us

To create a welcoming and respectful environment and organizational culture within the library, we must not assume that people who have characteristics different than our own necessarily have the same needs, experiences, and points of view that we do. At the same time, we must not make the assumption that "they" are all the same.

Therefore, we must expand our definition of diversity to include all of us. This requires a different mindset, one where the emphasis is on how we as individuals can all contribute to a diverse workplace.

Issues of Equity

Having stated the above, we must recognize that not everyone faces the same consequences for their diversity. We cannot forget that issues of difference are closely tied to issues of power and discrimination. Issues of equity are inseparable from issues of diversity. Individuals are judged by how they fit into the characteristics outlined above. We must remember that equality will require effort, resources and commitments to both structural change and continuing education.

Diversity is not just about numbers. It requires profound structural and cultural change. We will not succeed in creating a truly diverse environment until every individual feels valued and respected, and that their point of view and experiences are important to the workings of the organization.

University Library

February 1996

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Library Diversity Celebration & Award

The LDC became active in celebrating our differences by establishing an annual Library Diversity Celebration each spring. This celebration included the establishment of the annual Library Diversity Award, given to a library group or staff member who has advocated for diversity through their work at the library and/or in the local community.

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Diversity Quilt

At the 2001 Library Diversity Celebration the committee initiated a project that exemplified the goals of the LDC. All library staff were encouraged to sign and decorate a quilt square which was to represent him or herself. These individual pieces were sewn together and quilted by LDC members to create a quilt representing the rainbow of diverse individuals making up the University Library. This quilt was displayed throughout the following year at all library locations within the University Library. 

Photo of one side of the Diversity Quilt

Photo of one side of diversity quilt

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Page maintained by Jeremy York
Last modified: 03/12/2015