My favorite meetings each fall and spring are the ASERL membership meetings. It is a chance for library deans and directors from the southeast to gather, exchange information, and learn from each other. While this organization provides many benefits to ZSR ranging from resource sharing to professional development webinars, it is also the group that has helped me to grow and develop as a library dean. While I greatly missed the personal interaction, we were able to hold a productive meeting online last week (Nov. 12-13).
Our meeting was centered on EDI and the role that libraries can play in advancing a racial justice agenda (see meeting agenda here). Greensboro’s Racial Equity Institute’s Groundwater training was the focus of our Thursday session. Besides ASERL deans and directors, we also invited leaders of focus groups and committees to participate. This was my second time taking the Groundwater training and the data showing how systematic racism has infiltrated all aspects of society was even more sobering this time. Using state and national studies, REI shows:
- racial inequity looks the same across systems,
- socio-economic difference does not explain the racial inequity; and,
- inequities are caused by systems, regardless of people’s culture or behavior.
The training does not offer solutions, but lays out the problems we need to address.
The focus of our Friday session was on how libraries and ASERL can promote racial justice. Two case studies were presented:
- Duke University Libraries Racial Justice Roadmap (Dracine Hodges, AUL for Technical Services and Racial Justice Strategy Taskforce convener, Duke University Libraries)
- ZSR Library and WFU’s Slavery, Race, and Memory Project (presented by me)
After the presentations, we moved into Zoom break-out rooms to talk about what we were doing on our respective campuses and what role ASERL can play. Some ideas shared include:
- ASERL collecting and sharing EDI plans and roadmaps
- ASERL keeping EDI as a high profile priority; will help some schools get more traction
You can learn more about ASERL’s EDI work here.
The next ASERL membership meeting will be in April, although the Board and working groups will be active between now and then. At the end of the spring meeting I will become the next ASERL President, an honor I never expected to achieve. It will be my priority to insure our EDI efforts continue to growth and have impact on our institutions.