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Academic Libraries and the Strategic Vision for Diversity in Higher Education

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Informing the Critical Understanding of Our Users: Using Data to Develop New and Diverse Services

Tagged Division

Engineering Libraries

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Paper Authors


John B. Napp University of Toledo Orcid 16x16

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John Napp has been the Engineering Librarian at the University of Toledo since 2001. He was previously employed as a librarian in an environmental engineering firm. His main research interests are information literacy and engineering librarianship.

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Arjun Sabharwal University of Toledo

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Arjun Sabharwal joined the University of Toledo Library faculty in January 2009 as Digital Initiatives Librarian responsible for the digital preservation of archival collections, managing the Toledo's Attic Web site, and managing the University of Toledo Digital Repository. Research interests include Digital Humanities, interdisciplinary approaches to digital curation, digital preservation, archival science, and information architecture. His digital scholarship activities include an international blog on ResearchGate: Digital Humanities and Archiving. Teaching experience since 1988: World Music, Music History, Humanities, Music Bibliography, private guitar instruction, and Information Literacy.

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Academic libraries play a crucial role in supporting strategic goals for diversity in higher education. There are three crucial components to playing this role effectively: the first one is to champion the cause for diversity by developing and reinforcing organizational culture supportive of diversity hiring plans within the libraries through professional development programs, and incentivizing. Diversity within staff and leadership is important. A second component includes three areas of activity: collection development, public services, and outreach. Outreach programming could be targeted to international, LGBTQA+, and other underrepresented student groups (e.g. women in STEM and students with disabilities). A collection development program can focus on developing multicultural resources for academic programs as well as professional development for employees. Public services (reference, instruction, and circulation) especially, would need to connect users with such resources and understand special populations affected by ability issues, prior military service, identity, and language issues. While pointing users to resources is essential, it is just as important for users to benefit from reference transactions and instruction, especially if they settle in from distant regions of the world where the organization of knowledge may evolve around different classification practices. Taking a diversified approach to understanding different classification systems will be important for libraries where reference librarians and instructors may undertake studies to understand foreign classification systems. International students may benefit from this approach in order to understand what they need to know when locating resources for their studies in the United States and how that may be different from what they were familiar with in their respective countries. Libraries will also need to orient international students towards US Copyright Law and issues related to academic honesty, which may be interpreted differently in other countries. Finally, outreach would need to focus on all three areas whereby libraries can offer workshops and public events to engage with the university’s diverse student population. Outreach efforts can significantly improve users’ experiences with librarians, the library, and the range of resources. Workshops could also help library faculty and staff work effectively with these underrepresented groups. One particular difference may be the diversity of resources in American academic libraries that might be easily excluded by selectors elsewhere on philosophical, political, and cultural grounds. The gender-based perception of librarians may also be affected by culture and social stratification in various parts of the world just as women’s opportunities in the STEM disciplines are. Assessing the effectiveness of diversity initiatives can inform administrators and diversity coordinators regarding choices for new programs and approaches. Various qualitative and quantitative instruments may be available to measure the impact of academic libraries’ diversity initiatives on undergraduate students from acceptance through graduation. Databases contain data with focus on employee and student categories, gender, ethnicity, faculty tenure and rank, and college with support for longitudinal studies needed to analyze trends and correlation with the outcome of various diversity-related initiatives. This paper will discuss the various strategies considered, tested, and yet to be implemented at *** Libraries while also presenting best practices at other institutions.

Napp, J. B., & Sabharwal, A. (2019, June), Academic Libraries and the Strategic Vision for Diversity in Higher Education Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32024

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