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Notes from Executive Director Scott Garrison – June 2021

Through keeping up with the news, talking with the MCLS Board of Directors at their May meeting, recent conversations with libraries, reading I’m doing, and thinking about my own family and friends, issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and accessibility (which I’ll refer to here as DEIJA) remain on my mind. As we note the anniversary of George Floyd’s murder (and subsequent killings in the year that has followed), as the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act has been signed into law, as June is Pride Month, and as society at large continues to grapple with myriad issues around DEIJA, I’m using this space to resurface and offer a few new resources that promote learning, understanding, and addressing inequities, from some 2020 Notes from the Executive Director articles and the time since.

Acknowledging that DEIJA takes many forms, this article has two sections: race, and gender and sexual identity.

In terms of race, I’ve been struck by the work of Nicole A. Cooke, the Augusta Baker Endowed Chair and Associate Professor at the University of South Carolina School of Library and Information Science. Last June, Dr. Cooke called for going beyond reading books on anti-racism and developing a sense of allyship, including critical self-reflection, developing critical consciousness, action and advocacy. In her September column in Publishers Weekly, Dr. Cooke talks about how allies can “stand in the gap” in a variety of ways. In her words, “it requires pushing through your own discomfort and putting another’s needs in front of your own.”

More recently, I’ve been reading Heather McGhee’s 2021 book The Sum of Us (What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together), a compelling history of how the American economy has failed not just people of color, but also many white people, due to an enduring, institutionalized argument that prosperity is a “zero-sum game” in which advancement for some threatens the same for others. Ibram X. Kendi (How to Be An Anti-Racist) praised The Sum of Us as, “the book I’ve been waiting for.”

Here again are more resources from last year (edited, and with a few updates):

  1. Learning more about racism, anti-racism, and how to talk about it
  1. Becoming an ally to Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC)
  1. Being intentional about including people of all ethnicities
    • There are many inclusive booklists of titles to add to library collections.
    • Consider including race and social justice as key tenets in library strategic planning, as Seattle Public Library has done.
    • PLA and ACRL are each working toward greater library staff diversity, equity and inclusion.

In terms of gender and sexual identity, here again is (an updated) list of resources to learn about, support, and include LGBTQIA+ persons, including organizations in Indiana and Michigan.

  1. ALA’s Rainbow Round Table offers book lists and reviews, a toolkit for serving LGBTQ+ individuals, collection development policy guidance materials, and information on how to be inclusive in efforts such as survey design
  2. Located in Indianapolis, the Indiana Youth Group’s mission is, “to create safe spaces, provide wellness programming, and educate LGBTQ youth and the community.” The outcomes that underlie their programming include self-acceptance, resilience, awareness of the LGBTQ+ community, the ability to support others, support away from home, and future leadership and advocacy for and in the LGBTQ+ community.
  3. With chapters located throughout the state, Transgender Michigan’s mission is, “to provide advocacy, support and education while serving to create coalitions in the state of Michigan to unify and empower transgender and gender non-conformist communities.” They offer a helpline for trans persons, events, a speaker program, minority outreach, advocacy, and visibility.
  4. Based in Detroit, Equality Michigan (EQMI) is, “Michigan’s statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) political advocacy organization.” Their website’s primary goal is to “connect victims of individual incidents of bias, discrimination, harassment, and violence … to the support, referral and navigational services they need to achieve justice.”
  5. GLSEN (pronounced “glisten”) is, “the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe and affirming schools for LGBTQ students.” In their work, they “conduct extensive and original research to inform evidence-based solutions,” “author developmentally appropriate resources for educators to use,” partner with decision-makers and dozens of national educational organizations to help ensure that safe schools exist for every student, and “empower students to affect change by supporting student-led efforts to positively impact their own schools and local communities.” GLSEN has chapters in Indiana and Michigan.
  6. Indiana’s INSPIRE service contains many useful resources for Indiana citizens, including the following:
    1. Consumer Health Complete, which offers hundreds of full-text articles related to LGBTQ+ health needs
    2. Biography in Context, which includes five collections of primary source materials related to gender and sexuality (and Gale One File: Gender Studies)
    3. Biography Resource Center, which offers biographies and photos of influential LGBTQ+ persons
    4. Indiana Memory, which contains primary documents in the LGBTQ Collection related to gay culture in Indiana
    5. Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts, which contains over 200 full-text articles related to library service for the LGBTQ+ population
    6., which provides access to a collection of hundreds of LGBTQ+ books with accompanying digital resources, including author bios and interviews, book guides, activities and lessons, book readings, book trailers, and vocabulary lists along with awards and distinctions
  1. The Michigan eLibrary also offers several of the same resources as INSPIRE, and has several other useful resources for Michigan citizens, including:
    1. Academic Search Complete, which offers a wealth of content geared toward academic institutions
    2. Gale in Context: Opposing Viewpoints, which includes LGBTQ+ resources in a list of over 300 topics on society and culture (including point/counterpoint featured articles)
    3. MAS Complete, a general topics database designed specifically for high school students, containing over 1,400 results from 1986 to the present (from magazine, newspaper and biographical sources)
    4. MasterFILE Complete, which includes mostly popular magazines and reference books
    5. MeL eBooks, which contains thousands of fiction and non-fiction books with subjects related to LGBTQ+ persons
    6. NoveList Plus, which includes fiction and non-fiction book lists related to LGBTQ+ lives (and NoveList K-8 Plus offers lists of age-appropriate materials for younger readers)

If you have explored these or other resources and/or had conversations with your staff about DEIJA issues, I’d like to hear from you. See something important missing? Have a correction? Let me know! If you would be willing to discuss your experience, or what your library or MCLS could do, please contact me at