Diversity Resident Librarian Engages Campus Community
For the third year, the President’s Diversity Initiative is funding targeted efforts in multiple organizations across campus aimed at recruiting and retaining diverse faculty and staff. One such initiative, now in its second year of funding, is the Libraries’ employment of a Diversity Resident Librarian.
Rebecca Marrall joined Western’s faculty as the Diversity Resident Librarian in November 2010. In addition to strategic work to integrate principles of diversity and inclusion into the Libraries’ operations, Rebecca has led efforts such as those described below to engage students, faculty and staff both within and outside the Libraries in opportunities to learn more about diverse people and build skills for interacting across differences.
According to Dean of Libraries Chris Cox, “We serve a diverse clientele at Western, and are always looking for ways to improve our understanding of their needs. Thanks to Rebecca and this position, we have gained a stronger understanding of various backgrounds and cultures, and through our collections, staff, policies and programming, are working hard to be an inclusive organization that celebrates differences.”
Here are some highlights of projects led by Rebecca as Diversity Resident Librarian:
- At its inaugural Diversity Film Festival in October, the Libraries hosted viewings and discussions of four films: A Class Divided; In Whose Honor?; Last Chance for Eden, and People Like Us: Social Class in America. According to Rebecca, “The Film Festival was a wonderful way to engage with students, staff, faculty, and community members, and discuss complex topics that need examination.” Rebecca states that future events are also currently being planned.
- Rebecca has partnered with Carmen Werder and the Teaching-Learning Academy to host multiple discussions about teaching and learning in culturally, disciplinarily, and otherwise diverse environments. Following successful “Communication Across Differences” and “Reading Across Differences” events in the 2010-2011 academic year, they hosted a “Reading Across Differences, Part II” event in Fall 2011, “Communication Across Differences, Part II: A Focus on Speakers of Other Languages” in Winter 2012, and will be holding a workshop focused on scholarly communication during Spring 2012.
- With Rebecca’s leadership, the Libraries have developed a robust Western Libraries Diversity Guide. The online Guide highlights reference books, films, journals, on-campus resources, and external organizations regarding and serving first generation to college students, people of color, people with disabilities, veterans, and LGBTQ people. Rebecca explains, “The purpose of this guide is to provide information about campus-based and regional resources for all campus populations. It is my hope that this guide will raise awareness about the impressive resources and people already at the Libraries and within Western Washington University.”
- In Spring 2011, Rebecca partnered with the EO Office and Associate Professor of Management Mary Sass to create a service-learning opportunity for Management 413 students. With mentoring from Rebecca and the EO Office, these students assessed the feasibility of establishing an intern-to-employee program for individuals with disabilities. At the end of the quarter, these students provided a strong presentation of their work, along with a Final Report, to the EO Office and Rebecca.
- The Libraries Diversity Committee has initiated quarterly diversity-related trainings for Libraries faculty and staff. In the Fall of 2011, Anna Talvi-Blick from disAbility Resources for Students shared suggestions for making the Libraries service desks more accessible for people with disabilities. In Spring 2012, the Libraries Diversity Committee will participate in several webinars from the American Library Association’s Office for Diversity. Upcoming trainings will include a discussion of ways that gender impacts communication and power dynamics in the workplace, and the possible intersections of ageism and increased pressures to use technology.
To find out more about the Libraries’ diversity initiatives, please contact Rebecca Marrall at x4493 or firstname.lastname@example.org.