EDI in the OCLC Research Library Partnership Survey -
Open-ended Responses

In 2017, the OCLC Research Library Partnership (RLP) conducted a survey to explore if and how our 150 Partner institutions are modifying library and archival collections, practices, and services through the lens of equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). Our objective was to capture a snapshot of efforts across the Partnership to inform next steps, reveal possible directions to explore, and serve as a starting point for further discussions and action regarding EDI in the library field.

Read more about the survey.

Read responses to the survey's open-ended responses below.

5. Please list targeted activities and audiences your EDI’s goals and principles are or will be focused on addressing.

6. Please list, including URLs, any publicly-available presentations, web pages, papers, or articles describing your EDI efforts.

7. What have been your institution’s biggest challenges in your EDI efforts?

8. What do you think are the biggest challenges for the library and archival communities to ensure equity, diversity, and inclusion of marginalized groups?

9. What are your institution's views on EDI efforts?


Question 5: Please list targeted activities and audiences your EDI’s goals and principles are or will be focused on addressing.

"University Archives is increasing documentation related to Students of Color with the intersections of learning, student life, and activism on campus." (Brandeis)

"Having a library representative on inSTEP (International Student Experience Program)." (Brandeis)

"Curators are working with marginalized communities to acquire materials for our collections. These groups include Hispanics and Native Americans. We have also begun discussions about how to include these groups in the description of materials. This is especially important for Hispanics where a different language is involved." (Brigham Young)

"The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council (DivE-In) is focusing on staff enrichment activities and on surfacing issues that need attention (such as archival description, recruitment and retention, the ‘pipeline’ of applicants for positions, etc.)." (Duke)

"Although the GRI has not explicitly articulated EDI goals and principles, we have engaged in targeted activities to build collections and expand engagement in specific areas. A few years ago the Getty Trust provided the library with increased funds to expand collecting in fields outside of the traditional scope of western art history upon which the library has been built; this initiative has included an ongoing in-depth analysis of current approval plans to ensure the most inclusive coverage possible, as well as efforts to acquire esoteric material outside traditional boundaries wherever possible. Two years ago the GRI hired its first curator in many years for Latin American art history, who has strengthened our collections related to Latin America. The GRI is participating in the Getty-sponsored Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative, 'a regional exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles.' Launched in 2011, LA/LA is now culminating in exhibitions and public programs at cultural institutions throughout Southern California. As part of the initiative, GRI staff organized or co-curated four exhibitions and a video art screening. The GRI is in the early planning phase of an African American art history initiative aimed at building our collections and improving discovery of material already in our collections through metadata enhancement and research guides. The GRI participates in the Getty Foundation’s Multicultural Undergraduate Internship program, founded in 1993 and aimed at encouraging greater diversity in professions related to the visual arts. The HR department at the Getty recently formed a Diversity Roundtable to foster informal discussion with interested staff throughout the organization.”

"Workshop on leadership with HCBU's [Historically Black Colleges and Universities] Conferences on diversity in collecting." (Harvard)

"We have changed the salutation in our Library system (Alma) to address people as: 'Mr, Ms, Mx' to be more inclusive of different gender identities. This has been seen as a small but positive change." (La Trobe University)

"In terms of gender diversity, the University has a strong policy relating to gender equity. The Library has created a small exhibition in our Melbourne Library promoting Women authors as part of the university's 50 year anniversary this year and in support of gender equality." (La Trobe University)

"Working with native American nations to appropriately label digitized collections." (Library of Congress)

"My Library has worked with the university's LGBT staff network on organising and promoting public events related to our extensive LGBT collections." (London School of Economics)

"MIT is actively engaged in a Women in Science and Engineering archives project, to document the critical contributions of women scientists in STEM."

"Our Library is working with the University to highlight indigenous places in the University including the indigenous art in the Library." (Monash)

"One of our faculty has completed grant-funded research in which he worked with Native American students to develop a series of posters (print and electronic) aimed at clarifying the research and discovery process for Native American students." (Montana State University)

"We have also run the IMLS-funded Tribal College Librarians Institute (TCLI), a week-long professional development meeting aimed at tribal college librarians. This program has been running for 28 years (it wasn't always funded by IMLS)." (Montana State University)

"Our recently-formed academic libraries consortium (TRAILS) supports tribal colleges with negotiated purchasing and a unified discovery system." (Montana State University)

"National Network of Libraries of Medicine/Pacific Northwest Region Community Health Outreach Grant, January – September, 2017: Per the terms of an NNLM/PNR Community Health Outreach grant and our MSU land grant mission, librarians traveled to Montana’s seven tribal colleges. This outreach involved meeting with health sciences students, faculty and tribal college librarians to understand their health information needs and sharing MSU library and NLM resources and services."

"The National Archives highlights resources from its collection for researching African American history, women's history, Chinese American History, American We are improving our Mary P. Key Residency program, which provides mentorship through a successful transition from academic training to research librarianship and increases diversity from underrepresented groups for academic librarianship."

"We have committed to continuing our partnership with the EVF: The Expanding Visions Foundation http://www.expandingvisions.net/ to offer summer internships for high school students from under-represented groups that get them ready to consider higher education or enhance career readiness." (Ohio State)

"We have established a partnership with Big Brothers, Big Sisters where library staff and faculty serve as mentors in their Project Mentor program (http://www.bbbscentralohio.org/programs/)" (Ohio State)

"More broadly, we have articulated a strategic agenda, aligned with the University’s strategic plan, to be engaged more directly in the local community, especially in areas that advance EDI.history, Disability History, LGBTQ history and other topics." (Ohio State)

"We are focusing on our diverse demographic of undergraduate students to target outreach and community building with a goal of archiving their memory at our institution. Our goals for the future are to incorporate more outreach initiatives sometimes via collection development and possibly more in a post-custodial way when it makes more sense to the communities to whom we are outreaching." (Pennsylvania State)

"Princeton and Slavery Project (website and symposium to be launched in November) has connected the Library with the Historical Society of Princeton and to the Public Library to work with and promote the findings of the project."

"Working with tribal communities, Native American Academic Institutions, Community Outreach locally and nationally. Working with greater Institution committees." (Smithsonian)

"We actively work with the University's cultural centers to better understand and meet or exceed the needs of their constituents. Centers include Disability Cultural Center, Office of Multicultural Affairs, International Services, LGBTQ, and Veterans. We also provide a variety of disability services including on-demand reformatting of library-owned and Interlibrary loan materials, assistive technologies and other assistive services. We host exhibits focusing on various cultural celebrations (e.g., Black history month)." (Syracuse University)

"We have collected African American, immigrant, women, LGTBQ, fringe, and activist rare book and archival collections since the 1960s and continue to do so." (Temple)

"My library has many diversity and outreach events for both staff and our student body. One exciting thing for 2018- is a 3 year diversity residency for minority librarians wishing to be introduced/launched to work in Academic libraries. Another example is that the Diversity Advancement Committee and the Marketing Team are working together to create a robust diversity campaign for the Libraries for the next couple of years and will work as an independent campaign as well as inform marketing initiatives in the future – one activity are wall size posters throughout the library promoting and welcoming diversity. There are brownbag lunch series with invited speakers on diversity topics and many other learning opportunities besides the series. Personnel are encouraged to practice diversity and inclusion and it's part of the annual evaluation; it's also stressed as important in job postings and PDs. The Diversity Committee is very active with research, webinars, surveys, but unfortunately non TAMU folks can't enter the Committee Intranet page to see everything." (Texas A&M)

"Our out of copyright digitization efforts specifically include female authors. We are trying to internationalized our general collection with some small first steps focused on Arabic and Japanese materials. We are building a graphic novel and zine collection that has a big thematic area re: EDI.  We have created a few pop-up exhibits focused on EDI to highlight materials in the general collection. We have numerous staff workshops and groups and are addressing EDI in hiring practices." (Tufts)

"Indigenous peoples; accessibility. We are currently exploring changing cataloguing/metadata as it relates to description of indigenous people. We also have an indigenous internship program for SLIS students. We are engaging in an assessment of the accessibility of our libraries' spaces, services, collections." (University of Alberta)

"Our library has long been attuned to building inclusive collections, and we are beginning to consider our metadata practices." (University of Arizona)

"Our EDI group has focused primarily on programming and engagement with campus and community. We are also starting to look at our recruitment and retention-related activities and have made some changes in coordination with our HR unit." (University of Arizona)

"We are also looking at space planning efforts and considering how diversity and inclusion values impact how we look at and deploy space - including spaces for reflection, all-gender restrooms but also in terms of accessibility and proximity to resource centers supporting traditionally marginalized communities." (University of Arizona)

"I don't know that my institution has changed as much as it has been seeking to implement and implementing a series of approaches to all of the above. We have restructured and expanded both system wide and campus wide EDI committees, we have posted posters in our departmental staff break room regarding expanding the diversity of our archival collections and increasing sensitivity to the wording and presentation of finding aids, MARC records, captions for images and exhibition text labels. We have an active library wide initiative to capture and support records and archival materials created throughout the distinctive geographical area which we serve. We have also received grant funding to assist a local Native American tribe with digitization projects for materials that will remain within the tribal library." (University of California, Riverside)   

"Two examples include:

1. The Library works with the local African American community and other collaborative partners to preserve to collect oral histories and digitize personal photos and materials. More information at http://www.udel.edu/udaily/2017/may/school-hill-historic-remembrance/

2. The Library is a continuing partner in the Colored Conventions Project (CCP), an interdisciplinary public humanities project that identifies and transcribes hundreds of proceedings from the Colored Convention movement, and makes the materials available to students, scholars and community researchers in a central digital location. More information at http://coloredconventions.org/." (University of Delaware)

"My library is working on changing search and discovery interfaces and as part of that will be looking to work with specific accessibility requirements. Our outreach programmes for our collections link into working with specific minority user groups and these change year on year. The resource list team are looking to work with students to develop a more diverse curriculum (project Myopia)." (University of Edinburgh)

"My library is working with indigenous communities to incorporate appropriate subject headings in archival and library print and digitized collections." (University of Manitoba)

"My library is focused on broadening collections in areas other than medicine and law where we have deeper indigenous collections to incorporate more information resources with the indigenous world view." (University of Manitoba)

"My library is evaluating signage and finding aids to ensure they are relevant to indigenous communities." (University of Manitoba)

"My library is offering services focused on the specialized needs and learning preferences of some indigenous students." (University of Manitoba)

"My library is working with minority serving student organizations and university offices to ensure that library spaces (physical and digital) are accessible, inclusive and welcoming." (University of Michigan)

"USC Libraries will be systematizing collections from underrepresented groups to make them more accessible and searchable."

"USC Libraries will be ensuring collections are replete with works from diverse viewpoints, this is critical to the success of the university in general and its D & I efforts in particular."

"Our position as host institution for the L.A. as Subject—a group of libraries, museums, archives, and private collectors with materials related to Los Angeles history—offers a significant opportunity to advance this idea, as part of the mission of L.A. as Subject is to surface less-visible stories of Los Angeles and its many communities." (University of Southern California)

"Two major initiatives are in progress:

1. A collaborative NEH proposal with smaller member archives that will result in accessible, digital collections that document histories of minority communities. The participating institutions include:

  • Filipino American Library; collections documenting Filipino immigrants’ experience in the post-WWII era
  • First AME Church; collections include video of sermons on events such as the 1992 civil unrest
  • Go for Broke National Education Center; collections include oral histories of Japanese American WWII veterans and pre-WWII experiences of Japanese American communities
  • Pasadena Museum of History’s Black History Collection
  • The Southern California Library’s collections documenting Emma Lazarus Jewish Women’s Clubs civil rights activism
  • Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum’s collection documenting Chinese, Japanese, and Mexican immigrant communities in the early 20th century

2. Lost L.A., our broadcast series with KCET that draws upon libraries and archives in Los Angeles to tell less-visible stories through inventive filmmaking and storytelling built upon primary sources. We are currently at work on season 2 of the series, which debuts in October 2017." (University of Southern California)

"Working to raise awareness among Collections staff." (University of St Andrews)

"One example is the Black Queer Studies Collection 'which is designated digitally through notes in library catalog records, is meant to feature, promote and increase the discoverability of the UT Libraries’ unique holdings in the area of African and African Diasporic Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Studies.' We have also documented human rights issues through the Human Rights Documentation Initiative, including the Rwandan Genocide and Guatemala Police Archive (post-custodial) projects." (University of Texas, Austin)

"My library is working on: 1) Focus on collecting and digitizing our region's African American, Mexican American, LGBTQ communities' 2) Student Success Librarian works with low SES and underrepresented student groups specifically 3) African American Study Room 4)Programming focused on Mexican culture (Over 50% of our students)." (University of Texas, San Antonio)

"We are working on collecting materials from diverse student groups and societies. We also hope to collect more special media materials from indigenous groups." (University of Toronto)

Return to survey summary.


Question 7: What have been your institution’s biggest challenges in your EDI efforts? (29 responses)

"Not appropriating the efforts of our underrepresented communities, while administering and guiding the programs."

"The biggest challenge for us is building relationships with these marginalized communities. Many of them don’t trust institutions and their representatives. They are not interested in donating their materials to institutions and so we have been thinking about ways that we can help these groups care for their own materials. This could include having members of our staff offer them training on appropriate care, etc. However, we can’t do this if we aren’t able to establish relationships with these groups."

"We would like to recruit a more diverse staff and it has been difficult to generate deep pools of applicants."

"A predominance of white, male leadership, even in new top hires. However there has been some efforts made recently to diversify the Board of Trustees that we anticipate continuing."

"Collections and exhibitions still refer primarily to white men, yet this is changing, particularly at the GRI."

"Moving toward a more inclusive organizational culture; HR's new Diversity Roundtable is a step in the right direction."

"Successful recruitment at highest levels of management."

"Understanding how the Library can help and how this is viewed within the university community."

"Having time and resources to achieve our goals."


"Building shared understanding of the terms diversity, inclusion, and social justice among staff."

"Continued government funding to support our programs."

"Most of our efforts are aimed at Native American students and staff, and that's because Montana has seven tribal reservations and colleges, and a fairly large Native American population. We have addressed diversity and inclusion in other non-collections-related areas, such as creating gender-neutral bathrooms. One significant challenge we have is in attracting a diverse workforce. The communities to support some diverse populations simply don't exist in this area. Change is coming, but slowly."

"Our Office of Equal Employment Opportunity had a number of great programs, including an Alternative Spring Break program that brought minority students in to NARA for internships, but funding for these programs has dried up and the EEO office has been able to do less than before to support efforts to increase diversity of the workforce. This is part of general Federal budget tightening lately."

"It is hard to separate it out just as ‘EDI’ We incorporate equity and diversity goals explicitly into a variety of groups, budget/planning, and initiatives at our library."

"Lack of common understanding and coherent strategy around EDI."

"Currently, work is centered around specific initiatives, rather than understood as part of and framing for everyone's work."

"Individuals in the organization do not have a shared definition of what constitutes EDI."

"We need to build a wider recognition of efforts beyond our public-facing programs and resources and our hiring practices (such as behind the scenes work that enables EDI initiatives)."

"Accessibility is difficult to address in an information environment that includes licensed resources and consortial/cross-institution work."

"Historical practices that need to be reviewed and habits that require change. People management with regard to institutional goals and mission to align with EDI efforts is a challenge but not insurmountable, when leadership is supportive. I'm fortunate to work in a setting where this is the case."

"Identifying the appropriate way to work with communities, finding resources, recruiting and retaining diverse staff."

"Lack of funding."

"Increasing the number of Black and African American faculty members. The numbers of underrepresented minorities coming out of ALA accredited Library schools is small and we are struggling not only to hire but also to retain those individuals."

"Moving our majority white, conservative, Christian staff and faculty to greater acceptance and inclusion of individuals who are not like them. We are finding that as our leadership implements initiatives to broaden our diversity and inclusion, our majority employees are becoming uncomfortable with the cultural shift."

"Changing our primarily conflict-adverse faculty and staff to a culture where all individuals are respected for their identity, difficult conversations are encouraged and conflict is seen as part of our daily lives – neither good nor bad, simply something to be positively addressed and resolved."

"I think the hardest is just finding the time. There aren't necessarily great tools for building the general collection with EDI in mind, so it takes active development. For example, it would be great to have a list of POC or LGBT pre-20th century authors we could query against the collection to find additional digitization opportunities."

"We have done things ad hoc to date but are just forming a committee to look more systematically across areas of the library for how we can be more inclusive and foster a culture of diversity."

"There is so much we wish to do! Finding the capacity and prioritizing is an ongoing challenge."

"Managing expectations of stakeholders is also an ongoing concern and is related to the capacity and prioritization concern."

"I think we are able to achieve most of whatever we identify as a goal to this point. We have strong institutional and administrative support for EDI."

"EDI efforts have evolved over time. Recruitment, retention and staff development have been the focus of past efforts. Creating a welcoming and inclusive work climate is our next focus, with the idea that a positive work climate strengthens the user experience as well."

"Size of organisation and connecting different initiatives to make a fundamental change."

"Indigenous peoples are not homogenous and different bands and peoples have different perspectives, needs, trust levels and expectations from library and archival organizations."

"Minority representation within the ranks of the library, especially in leadership positions."

"The need for effective institutional cultural changes. Recruitment and Retention of culturally diverse faculty and staff."

"Student recruitment from under-represented groups (Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic, in the normal UK terminology)."

"There is much more we might select for digitization, processing, and making accessible. We are currently developing a DAMS, but bandwidth for building public portals and making content available remains a challenge."

"Building relations and trust with marginalized groups. Many groups do not feel comfortable working with or being documented by University departments."

Return to survey summary.


Question 8: What do you think are the biggest challenges for the library and archival communities to ensure equity, diversity, and inclusion of marginalized groups? (32 responses)

"Building trust with the community. This is often their story and they do not want it taken from them, misrepresented, or misused."

"Building relationships with these marginalized communities."

"Recruitment is major so we can have a staff that reflects our community."

"Making changes needed in the absence of adequate targeted resources to do so. OCLC could help with this effort by centralizing some of the advocacy and change management needed for general activities in the library and archival world that are not specific to individual institutions."

"Increase diversity in pools; increase turnover of older demographic to allow opportunities for more diverse population."

"Outreach and understanding. Promotion. Cost, effort and time."

"Bias prevent people from realizing they are coming from a place of privilege."

"Overcoming unconscious bias and recognising that there are EDI issues to address in the collection sphere."

"Building shared understandings of the terms diversity, inclusion, and social justice, which is necessary in trying to operationalize these values."

"Continued government funding to provide a librarian and learning skills adviser to provide programs and outreach to strengthen academic performance."

"I am unclear on how metadata descriptions can be targeted to meet the needs of marginalized populations. It seems many populations could benefit from customized metadata or terminologies. Might this require some kind of automated on-the-fly translation?"

"Competition for the resources required to prioritize D&I programs, and the will to prioritize these programs over other things that also need to be done. Keeping staff from marginalized communities on staff once we hire them."

"Time and expertise — takes a long time to pursue these issues effectively and you have to keep at it consistently. One also needs good partners in other groups and communities."

"Understanding the whiteness of our profession and how that affects and undergirds everything we do from recruiting, hiring, and promotion to networking, mentoring, and definition of professionalism to collecting and description to interpersonal communication, building relationships, and providing services, etc."

"Our focus on diversity to the exclusion of really understanding what it means to be inclusive."

"Our lack of appropriate data to understand where we are, what the challenges are, and how to make headway in this space."

"Complacency and complicity."

"Difficulty of leveraging local solutions and initiative to achieve collective action."

"The broad framing of 'EDI' may be working against actually acknowledging what we are doing and opportunities for growth from relevant discrete initiatives to more impactful, concerted action."

"The biggest challenges for all of us collectively (as a field) are:

1) recruitment of diverse colleagues, retention of them for sustainable institutional impact, and pipe-lines for them for leadership — either locally or in other areas where their expertise can seed future endeavors from positions of authority.

2) Intersecting with existing practices that run counter to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion — collection development, recruitment, retention, and priority setting.

3) in academic settings — acknowledging the historical practices of our work have been devised, prescribed, and promoted by an original homogenous group with inherent and long-standing practices/priorities/habits that can be realized via microaggressions, implicit bias, and unconscious (or conscious) complicity with status quo that heretofore has generated what we now acknowledge as marginalized groups.

4) Understanding that change is not linear, but advocacy can be."

"Finding the ways to reach out beyond token efforts, defining the terms for diversity and inclusion.  Nomenclature of catalogs, indexes is not neutral, so changes need to happen in the daily practice."

"Availability of funding; support from parent organization."

"Challenging for large institutions to build trust/relationships with these groups which don't trust 'authority'."

"Increasing the number of underrepresented minorities who choose the library profession. We need an active program to reach elementary through high school students and help them learn about professional careers in libraries and archives."

"Getting electronic database vendors to meet accessibility standards to service our disabled customers."

"Updating our older facilities to modern ADA standards. This takes extensive funding."

"We rely on published materials for a bulk of our collections, so to the effect that marginalized groups are kept from traditional publishing it is a challenge."

"Reliance on vendors; well established systems that need to change; general awareness of issues among library staff."

"As a community of practice, we need to do a better job of making librarianship an attractive and compelling career option for individuals in marginalized communities.  Supporting school libraries and librarians is an important first step - elementary and middle school students who have positive experiences with a school library, and where the school librarian presents positive and exciting vision of library work, would be worthy of our attention."

"Just making the mind shift individually and as a community."

"Relationship building with historically marginalized groups takes time and the right people. Designing access library spaces and services (both physical and virtual) to be welcoming requires on-going process."

"Interacting with those groups when based in a research library where the key focus is researchers and students."

"Focused on indigenous communities in Canada. Requires input from the different communities and their guidance as to how to proceed in many aspects."

"Minority representation in general and in leadership specifically.

  • Library overwhelming focus on more simplistic issues of EDI while avoiding issues related to social justice.
  •  Limited effort to impact the pipeline bringing underrepresented minorities into the profession."

"Onlyness; Stereotype Threats; Microaggressions."

"Staff recruitment; awareness among Collections development staff; fully engaged academic liaison efforts (outreach, etc); engagement with aware faculty members over collection development."

"Awareness is one aspect. Making these collections a priority with so many competing priorities is another. Again, bandwidth for making more collections/materials available is a huge challenge."

"Lack of a pipeline of diverse librarians = Lack of diversity in library staff."

"Building relations and trust with marginalized groups. Also, having the expertise in the archival community to work sensitively and respectfully with marginalized groups."

Return to survey summary.


Question 9: What are your institution’s views on EDI efforts? (18 responses)

"We support them."

"They dovetail with our mission and my understanding is that because the mission is well respected within the institution, there tends not to be strategies at a discrete level."

"Great idea but as yet unexplored."

"They are necessary to encourage change in the workplace and the pool of applicants for available positions, as well as curating collections of broader appeal."

"[Our university] has established the "Harassment Prevention Committee Office" and "Office for Gender Equality" under the guidance of the government and the library follows their instructions. But as for a library, we have not established our own policy or the committee on EDI."

"The university has an EDI champion and workstreams which we participate in."

"The university has a strong commitment to EDI and awareness training in this area is compulsory for all staff."

"We are already there with incredible diversity on all dimensions, and working very hard to improve in particular the numbers of women in science."

"We aspire to an inclusive approach to all we do and champions within areas of the library and useful networks and contacts to support this. What we don’t have is a separate/formalised working group in the Library. We do, however, take an active part in the University's and regional library networks."

"They are part and parcel of the overall culture and ethos of the university."

"Growing in importance."

"Active supporter but no application to Library/Archive collections at this time."

"There is a policy to increase diversity."

"Unfortunately, this is not something that the library has discussed, but I think it's safe to assume that all would support EDI efforts here and elsewhere."

Return to survey summary.

Survey Lead

Karen Smith-Yoshimura

OCLC Research Library Partnership

The OCLC Research Library Partnership is a venue for research libraries to undertake significant, innovative, collective action to benefit scholars and researchers everywhere. The Partnership magnifies the leadership and direction provided by innovative libraries. OCLC recognizes the valuable contribution that research libraries play in the cooperative and supports the Partnership with the full capacities of OCLC Research.