ARLIS/NA 49th Annual Conference has ended
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Thursday, May 13 • 1:30pm - 2:30pm
28. Collaborative Institutional Problem-Solving: Exploring DEI Initiatives and Five Case Studies Across Libraries and Museums

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Institutions have long espoused the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion, but have been challenged in making real change. The twin public health crises of the COVID19 pandemic and racial injustice have demonstrated how much “lip service” is paid more so than action. How do we pivot when broad-based reform is only just beginning in many workplaces? These two papers highlight methods for action that detail inward facing initiatives to reform workplaces cultures, as well as outward facing public initiatives to engage stakeholders. The presenters will share five case studies to encourage the audience to reflect on how they can make an impact at their institutions in the midst of the profound changes to our workplaces and our lives.

Moderator: Katy Parker

Fostering Collaborative Institutional Cultures through DEI Initiatives

The presenters will highlight four of their experiences at three institutions that have implemented a variety of collaborative diversity-leaning experiences: a reading group with a feminist social justice agenda; an institution-wide discussion group program bringing members of different departments together; a collaborative annotated bibliography circulated among colleagues; and a grassroots-led DEI group meeting during lunch. These forums provide a truly unique space where advanced- and early-career professionals can come together with equal footing to learn and practice both vulnerability and humility. It is the goal of this presentation to argue that, beyond what should be the obvious benefits of championing change toward equity in our profession and communities, there is institutional value in taking time during the workday to explore DEI learning and action together as a professional community.

Speakers: Claralyn Burt and K. Sarah Ostrach

Learning Out Loud: Moving Toward a More Inclusive Architecture Library through Dialogue and Action

The profession of architecture and that of librarianship have two core aspects in common: that they are both rooted in the legacy of Western-centric epistemologies and resultant knowledge production and dissemination systems; and without intervention, will not change rapidly enough to be relevant to current and future students. The Ricker Library of Architecture and Art and Illinois School of Architecture (ISoA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are collaboratively addressing these challenges, in order to create something more inclusive, student-centered, and sustainable. The project highlighted is twofold in action: decenter the canon in the curriculum while convening public conversation on philosophical and pragmatic implications. The presentation will discuss the initiative, present early findings from the survey and focus groups, and lessons learned from the experience. It is the author’s hope to help spur the audience’s imaginations to figuring out what convergences lay in their own institutions.

Speakers: Emilee Mathews and Soumya Dasgupta


Katy Parker

Humanities Liaison Librarian to the Fine Arts, UT Austin


Emilee Mathews

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Claralyn Burt

Gonzaga University

K. Sarah Ostrach

Yale University

Soumya Dasgupta

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Thursday May 13, 2021 1:30pm - 2:30pm EDT