Building a Diversity Plan - Strategic Planning for Diversity

ALA's Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services is pleased to provide an ever-growing collection of resources to help you plan for diversity. If you have materials and resources you feel should appear on this page, please email your suggestions to diversity@ala.org!

The framework on building a diversity plan was developed by Jody Gray, Diversity Outreach Librarian/American Indian Studies Librarian, University of Minnesota Libraries in October 2011.

Building a Diversity Plan

Creating a diversity plan for your library is one of the most important actions we can take to ensure that diversity and inclusion become integral to the way our institutions function, both internally and externally. 

Creating a diversity plan involves several steps to ensure that the institution is prepared to create a diversity plan, recognizes its role within a diverse community, and addresses diversity in a meaningful and relevant way.

For the purposes of this resource, we consider six elements essential for a successful diversity plan. Those elements include:

  • A definition of diversity for the organization
  • An assessment of need or justification for the diversity plan
  • A mission or vision for the diversity of the organization
  • A statement of priorities or goals
  •  A delegation of responsibilities towards the achievement of the plan
  • A statement of accountability

Building Support

When crafting a resonant and viable diversity plan it is critically important that buy-in exists at all levels of the library--from the library director to the front-line library staff. Buy-in across the organization makes the success of the diversity plan viable and meaningful. 

Among the most important first steps towards building cross-organizational support is the alignment of an organization’s strategic priorities with diversity. Consider exploring the library’s mission or vision statement to identify terms or clauses that can be connected back to issues of diversity. In many libraries, diversity may already be specifically articulated. In other libraries, the mission or vision statement might make mention of “the larger community” or “all members of the community,” which, by using Census data to demonstrate a diverse community, can be leveraged as evidence of the need for diversity.

As many libraries exist as part of a larger city government, school district, academic environment, or other organization, you may consult the mission or vision statement for the larger structure under which the library exists. Here again, by making the connection to a pre-existing diversity mandate, you will be better positioned to make the case for diversity within the library.

Among the most important support to be garnered is from the executive management of the library. Much of the literature and research on diversity in organizations point to the importance of executive-level support. Support from management can ensure that the message is delivered broadly throughout the organization, that staff take the plan seriously, and that time and resources are put behind the plan. Managers will likely respond to diversity plans which are derived from our support the organization’s mission and strategic goals. Providing evidence or plans for a demonstrable return on the investment—increased organizational performance, enhanced customer use or satisfaction, or improved recruitment and retention—can increase a manager’s desire to support diversity. As discussed later, including compelling, achievable, and beneficial goals in the diversity plan can help articulate the return on investment that the library will receive.