National Dialogue on the Curriculum of Readiness for the 21st Century Librarian

ALA Annual Conference - Chicago, Illinois - Tuesday June 28, 2005


Plenary Session II: Diversity and Equity in LIS Recruitment, Education, and Readiness

W. Michael Havener:  Our next speaker is Reinette Jones from the University of Kentucky.

Reinette Jones:  How is everybody doing today? All right. You cannot go to sleep, OK. I will throw something at you. As I said, my name is Reinette Jones. The title of my talk is "The Hidden Diversity Plan."

I am the Interdisciplinary Information Literacy and Diversity Librarian. Just got that title, it's a long title. It pays the same as the last title. And before I start, let me say, if you are a person of color and have been chosen, not self selected to be the diversity person, be aware, OK. Now, what I have done because I have self selected myself. OK. I have turned this into a diversity committee for our school because I cannot do it by myself. OK.

I am in the process of developing a diversity plan, and I am not talking about the general document this says, we value diversity, because what I hear in my head is, I like bunny rabbits, that's a good thing, OK. But it doesn't do a thing for diversity when you like bunny rabbits, OK.

I am not talking about also something that I have seen happen. You take a great thing that happened 15 years ago, it was in the diversity plan, strategic plan, 15 years ago, it gets put into present day plan, present diversity plan, and it will be put into the future diversity plan, just like you've done a wonderful thing each and every time and you haven't. So, that's something that I have become aware of.

Earlier this year, I asked different associations, institutions and organizations in the State of Kentucky and outside. I sent an email, some of you probably got that email because I sent it to every caucus and every Kentucky Library Association Listserv, calling for diversity plans.

Now, two things happened. About a second after the message went out, I got a diversity plan from the University of Louisville, which is also in Kentucky, also got background information on how that came about, and it came from Leticia Reynolds, she did a great job. That I appreciated. Also got a total of nine diversity plans.

Within Kentucky University of Louisville, Ashland Community College, Lexington Herald Leader, which is a night wider paper, the librarian sent me their plan, which is the oldest plan, 1990, the oldest one that I got from the state of Kentucky. Also got a diversity plan from Moorhead State, this is the best thing that I have seen the guy handed out, OK.

From outside Kentucky, I got plans from Arizona, University of Arizona, rare books and manuscripts sections of ACRL. And I also got diversity plans from Johnston County library in Kansas and Ocean County library in New Jersey and ALA.

I want to mention, just a second, the Ocean County library diversity plan. It was the easiest to find, it was the most understandable and it pulled me through the whole document. This is the way it should be done, I think. OK? All the plans will be helpful in the process of us developing our diversity plan. But what I also got was 26 librarians who sent me emails that said I don't now if we have a diversity plan or not. 26 people who didn't even bother to get back with me to say yes, no, or whatever. So, I'm going to take that to mean they don't even know if they have a diversity plan and they really don't care. And they don't take the time to go and find out. Which makes me wonder, what good is a diversity plan if no one knows about it, other than the committee or the person who put it together, OK.

This got me to thinking and I had to ask myself, what exactly are we doing as a library workforce in our institution in terms of diversity plan awareness. What are we doing? If only the diversity person and committee is aware of the diversity plan, that's supposed to a be Guide for the whole system, then I feel that we are aware given lip service. As the gentleman said before, it's more lip service, and typing up another document that will rest comfortably in a file in somebody's drawer somewhere in the library.

I find it a bit frustrating when I have to contact someone in an institution, and organization or association asking about a diversity plan, I have to wait for days while they go find out if they have one and if they are allowed to send it.

Now, when did diversity plans become this great secretive document? You know? What are we doing? Is it because somebody might read it? Well, duh. Wasn't that the whole point? Exactly. Also those seven library students and recent graduate will be looking at such documents; it's a part of the curriculum for some of the library schools to write about it and studying it, trying to make it better. Also, if I am looking for a job and I can't find a diversity plan what does it say about your institution? OK.

In closing, and I am going to be brief, if a diversity plan is a secret document, then it makes me question the motive and the sincerity behind the creation of the document. Do you have a diversity plan because a higher administrative agency said that you had to have a diversity plan and you got it just in case somebody shows up at the front door, you can whip it out, see what we got, but are you really doing? OK.

It wasn't a continuous effort, and I bring you this information about diversity plan because I know we had a session at this conference about how to write a diversity plan and I sincerely hope that next year we have another one maybe even a workshop because I will be back and I do want to know how to put together a very effective diversity plan and also to have something like this available. When they sent this to me, I was so happy for Moorhead.

Diversity plan for the University of Kentucky is a late thing. I know, because I got online and I looked at a lot of diversity plans that have been around for quite some time. This is the year 2005 and our University doesn't have a diversity plan. We're working on it.

Someone told me, quit asking and just let us do it. But, when your president goes to the Martin Luther King Day celebration in January of 2005 and says we will have a diversity plan come April 1st, and maybe it was an April fool joke, I don't know, I fell for it. OK. But we don't have one come April 1st, and here it is, almost July, OK.

Our library will have a diversity plan if I have anything to do with it, whether the University does or not. I have also asked that I be on that committee because we have a habit of not putting our librarians on these types of committees, we get overlooked, OK. In our state, our librarians have been educating people a lot longer than our school system has. We have been at this for quite some time and I think we have something to offer.

And with that, I'm going to get off the platform and turn the mike over. Thank you very much.

W. Michael Havener: Thank you.