University of Tennessee Libraries
Purpose and Organization
The University of Tennessee Libraries'
Diversity Committee was established in January 2001. The Committee was appointed
by the Dean of Libraries, Barbara Dewey, after a call for volunteers was made
to library staff and faculty. The Committee's first meeting was held on February
12, 2001. At this initial meeting the Dean noted that the formation of the Diversity
Committee was in keeping with the Libraries' planning documents and strategic
priorities for 2001, which state that the Libraries should "develop a plan
to address diversity and a welcoming library environment." The Committee
was encouraged to provide leadership for both the Libraries and the UT community
in promoting the value of diversity.
In Spring 2001, the Committee's
eleven members created the following mission for the Diversity Committee:
The University of Tennessee Libraries'
Diversity Committee is dedicated to creating a more inclusive community in
all realms of service grounded in respect and appreciation for individual
differences. The Committee endorses a broad definition of diversity, and seeks
to provide programs and resources that enhance knowledge and encourage understanding
of diversity. The Committee strives to provide leadership for the Libraries
in meeting the needs of all its constituencies and special populations.
In May 2002, the Committee established
procedures for membership, which outlined the process for the appointment of
new members every spring. Sixteen individuals were appointed to serve on the
Diversity Committee for 2002-2003.
Strategic priorities and goals were
established in May 2001 to guide the Committee in its first year.
A summary of Diversity Committee activities and accomplishments, based on these
priorities and goals, follows for the period February 2001-June 30, 2002.
Committee Training & Professional Development
Before assuming any kind of leadership
role for the Libraries or the UT community in promoting diversity, the Diversity
Committee realized that committee members needed training and education on the
issues surrounding diversity. At the same time, there was a need to develop
trust and a common sense of purpose within the Committee itself. To accomplish
both of these objectives, the Committee pursued professional development and
continuing education opportunities throughout the year.
- February 2001 -- The Committee
met with the Interim Director of UT's Office of Equity and Diversity, Jennifer
Richter, to discuss the role of that office and the Committee's purpose and
goals. Suggestions were made for committee training and professional development.
- April 2001 -- Rosa Thomas, a
facilitator from UT's Wellness Office, Student Health Services, assisted the
Committee with communication skills and in getting to know each other. The
result was the Committee being better prepared to work together in developing
a definition of diversity.
- May 2001 -- A definition of diversity
was created by the Committee after several meetings and workshops on the topic.
This was a necessary and critical step to occur before the Committee could
move forward in training and programming for library staff.
- September - October 2001
-- Committee member Molly Royse participated in and completed the Association
of Research Libraries' online lyceum course on "The Role of Assessment
in Advancing Diversity." Financial support was provided by the Dean.
The information gleaned from this course provided a foundation and framework
for the Committee's organization and planning activities regarding assessment.
- March 2002
-- The Committee planned and organized a panel, entitled "All People
Considered: Diversity Efforts in Tennessee Libraries," for the annual
Tennessee Library Association conference. Thura Mack moderated and Tiffani
Conner served on the panel as the Committee's representative.
- March 2002 -- The Committee was
awarded a Cultural Diversity Grant by the Library Administration and Management
Association (LAMA) to host a pre-conference on diversity at the 2003 Tennessee
Library Association conference.
- March 2002 -- Committee members
Tiffani Conner, Tamara Miller, and Molly Royse attended and presented at the
3rd National Conference on Diversity in Academic Libraries, Iowa City. Financial
assistance was provided by the Dean.
- June 2002 -- Committee members
Thura Mack and Molly Royse presented a poster session, entitled "Diversity
@ Our Library: The Evolution of a Diversity Initiative at UT Libraries,"
at the American Library Association's annual conference in Atlanta. The session
was delivered both at the ALA Diversity Fair and at the general poster sessions
for administration and management.
Assessment & Evaluation
During its first year, the Diversity
Committee deemed that assessing the state of the UT Libraries' climate in regard
to diversity was a priority if the Committee was to appropriately focus committee
activities and programming. As a result, assessment and evaluation activities
consumed much of the Committee's time and efforts.
- July 2001 -- A climate assessment
subcommittee was formed to plan and develop a diversity climate assessment
instrument for all library employees.
- October 2001
-- A "University Libraries Climate Survey" was distributed to library
employees with the purpose of assessing perceptions of the general work climate
in the Libraries, as well as reactions regarding the more specific climate
- February 2002
-- A "Diversity Climate Survey Report to Participants," which presented
the cumulated responses of the survey, was distributed to all library employees.
An open forum was conducted for library staff to discuss the survey results.
- April 2002 -- A paper, entitled
"Are We Ready to Meet Our Future: A Diversity Climate Assessment,"
was presented by committee members Tiffani Conner, Tamara Miller, and Molly
Royse at the 3rd National Conference on Diversity in Academic Libraries in
Staff Development & Education
Raising awareness of diversity issues
among library staff was an ongoing goal of the Diversity Committee during its
first year. Attempts were made to create opportunities for staff to come together
and learn more about diversity.
- August 2001
-- A "Food for Thought" Diversity Luncheon was hosted by the Committee
to introduce its mission, goals, and definition of diversity to library staff.
- September 2001
-- A "Call for Civility" statement was created and issued by the
Committee in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11th. A web page
evolved that offered support and provided information about campus reaction
and scheduled events. The Committee collaborated with the Libraries' Campus
Chest Campaign to solicit donations to support recovery efforts.
- November 2001
-- A "Harvest of Hope" Tea was hosted by the Committee to thank
library staff for support and introduce the Committee's web page.
Collaboration & Networking
Making the University population
aware of the Libraries' commitment to diversity was a goal of the Diversity
Committee. Efforts were begun to establish collaborative and networking relationships
with various campus entities.
- October 2001
-- The Committee participated in the UT Black Cultural Center's "Dream
to Reality" Courtyard Brick Project by purchasing a brick to help support
the construction of the new Center.
- November 2001
-- With financial support from the Dean, the Committee co-sponsored, along
with other UT departments and programs, a Center for Applied and Professional
Ethics lecture on homosexuality.
- March 2002 -- The Committee collaborated
with a graduate seminar in Educational Administration and Cultural Studies
to create a display at Hodges on women's firsts at UT during Women's History
Publicity & Marketing
The Diversity Committee recognized
that effectively publicizing and marketing committee efforts and activities
were important for the Committee to successfully accomplish its goals and objectives.
- A logo for the Committee was
created by the Libraries' Outreach Publications Specialist to assist in defining
the Committee's publications and communication efforts.
- The Committee's definition of
diversity was shared both within and outside the Libraries via a bookmark
which was designed to effectively communicate the definition.
- The Committee developed a web
to assist in publicizing its mission and goals, its definition of diversity,
and committee activities. The web page is also intended to serve as a resource
tool for those interested in exploring resources on diversity and camps-wide
Looking Back and to the Future
The Libraries' Diversity Committee
had a most challenging and productive first year and a half. The Committee met
many of its initial goals and objectives, and began to set goals for the new
year. A strong foundation was laid upon which future Committees can build. A
key element to the success of the Committee so early in its existence was the
support of the Libraries' administration. From the beginning, it was clear that
the Committee is strategically important to the Libraries' mission and planning.
The administrative financial assistance provided in 2001-02 was invaluable in
assisting the Committee in accomplishing its goals. The Diversity Committee
looks forward in the coming months to strengthening its leadership role for
the Libraries and the UT community in promoting the value of diversity.
Submitted by the UT Libraries' Diversity Committee
October 9, 2002