DEI Initiatives

The ISU Library values the lived experiences and insights that a diversified workforce brings. We ascribe positive value to and derive benefits from the different cultures, abilities, backgrounds, and perspectives that a diverse workforce brings to our shared work and decision-making. 

Overall, Iowa State University is a predominantly white institution. Data on the student body, as well as the staff and faculty, are available in the ISU Fact Book. As of Fall 2021, the library consists of approximately 106 staff, about 13% of whom identify as BIPOC. Members of the library staff identify as LGBTQIA+, have invisible and/or visible disabilities, and/or present other marginalized identities. Diverse staff work at all levels of the library including departmental and unit management and administration. 

The following lists a growing number of important diversity, equity, and inclusion actions, initiatives, and programs in which the library has been involved. 

  • The University Library reports its major DEI outcomes annually to the University Vice President & Provost. These reports and the library’s statements on DEI are posted publicly on the library’s website. 

  • Additional recent reports and other DEI data and outcomes are now posted publicly on the library website’s Assessment section.

  • Since mid-2018, the library has an Assistant Dean for Inclusion and Equity whose position is centered on DEI. Most of the colleges that comprise ISU now have similar administrative leadership positions, and the ISU campus has a Vice President for DEI. In April 2022, a university news article reviewed this movement.

  • The library’s active DEI Committee was reshaped in 2018 to include member training. The Committee’s charge, responsibilities, membership, and minutes are available on the library’s Intranet and publicly on the library website.

  • The University Library is a member of the ACRL Diversity Alliance and has a functioning Residency Program.

  • Since 2019, library staff at all levels engage in DEI efforts and report their professional development learning and activities on annual evaluations. 

  • Participating in the library’s mentoring program is encouraged for all new to ISU librarians entering at the Academic Librarian I and II levels. Librarians are also encouraged to pursue mentoring opportunities in relevant professional organizations. The library's mentoring program has defined guidelines and best practices and three cohorts have evaluated the program for satisfaction and effectiveness since 2019. Two surveys in 2019 found satisfaction levels are higher when mentoring pairs meet more frequently than less, and with more structured guidelines and best practices in place. Surveys in May-June 2022 show 86% of current mentees are satisfied to very satisfied with what they have been able to achieve through the library's mentoring program.

  • Campus Faculty & Staff Associations (FSAs) provide support, community, and networking opportunities and are open to all ISU faculty and staff. These include the Black Faculty & Staff Association, and American Indian, Asian American & Pacific Islander, Chinese, Colegas Latinx, Jewish, LGBTQA+, and International FSAs; most of these groups are fairly active. The library also has active representation on the University Committee on Disabilities.There are also campus organizations for those who identify as queer and trans people of color and women of color. Library staff are active members and leaders in several of these organizations. In 2019, the University Library co-hosted a retreat for the SISTER group, the largest group on campus for women of color. 

  • Leadership development is encouraged and supported and has long been a regular aspect of first year orientation included for new to ISU librarians entering at the Academic Librarian I and II levels. Continuing leadership development opportunities exist for Academic Librarians at all levels as well as for all library workers through campus, regional and national programs such as ISU’s Emerging Leaders Academy and the national Inclusive Manager’s Toolkit online series. 

  • Library department heads and administrators participate in structured DEI book discussion series facilitated by the library’s AD for Inclusion & Equity as part of their own DEI learning and professional development. Additional DEI book discussion series are available annually for library staff. These series have been rated highly by participants for their effectiveness in deepening awareness and understanding on complex issues including antiracism, equity on campus, transgender and nonbinary experiences, experiences of adults with autism, and creating more inclusive environments. These series have received national recognition from ARL, the Association of Research Libraries. 

  • Much of campus participates in the annual Iowa State Conference on Race & Ethnicity (ISCORE), the robust ISU branch of the National Conference on Race & Ethnicity (NCORE); a growing number of library staff attend and participate in ISCORE. Since 2018, ISU librarians have been regular volunteers and presenters at the conference. In 2019, the University Library was honored as a Champion partner of ISCORE.  

  • For more than two decades, ISU requires that all undergraduate students complete courses in designated diversity areas. The library continues to build robust general collections in support of campus race and ethnic studies programs, women's and gender studies, the diversity requirement, and other relevant DEI areas for decades.

  • The University Library is critically examining its recruiting and hiring practices and its search committee members participate, along with the rest of campus, in required antibias training before searches commence. This campus-wide training was strengthened in 2020 through the addition of online learning modules developed by ISU ADVANCE and its campus equity advisors.  

  • The library has defined Best Practices in Inclusive Library Searches, and we continue to improve our recruiting and hiring processes.  

Several DEI initiatives of note are actively underway at the library including: 

  • An Accessibility Needs Assessment student survey conducted in Fall 2021 that will provide guidance for better meeting the needs of students with disabilities, including neurodiverse students

  • Decolonizing description through outreach and reciprocity to Indigenous nation representatives, undertaken by the library’s Metadata Team. 

  • The Tracing Race @ ISU initiative that supports the creation of original digital scholarship on race at ISU  

  • A robust DEI book discussion series for library staff that continues to earn national attention and serve as a model for other libraries and organizations.

  • An Inclusive Policies Review project launched by the library’s DEI Committee in Fall 2020 that examines existing library policies for bias and recommends change, with the ongoing goal of changing policies and practices in order to make the library a more inclusive and equitable space.