Friday, November 06, 2020

#NYLA2020 : Malcolm Hill Lecture: Sites of Action How Libraries Advance Social Justice.

New Title: 

Is Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Enough?

Program Description:

Libraries have long been places for community, learning, and sites of connection. Now more than ever, libraries have the responsibility and the opportunity to advance the stated core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) to structural and systemic changes that advance social change. Developing an equitable, inclusive, and social justice organization requires buy-in and work from everyone, but without leadership’s vision and support many DEI initiatives fail to make systemic change. Dr. LB Hannahs, Senior Strategist at Tangible Development and scholar on strategic diversity change, will share practical tools leaders can take to be the driver of change in your library and help libraries become sites of action for the cultural shifts happening all around us.

Brief notes:

Wow...this session was packed full of information.  For those attending the conference, this may be one you'll want to watch the recording of more than once! 

I've tried to organize my notes by the different sections in Hannahs' talk, but I might have failed at it.
  • Hannahs is from Upstate NY and went to college in several places across Upstate NY. 
  • Hannahs began has a K-12 music teacher and then switched to higher education. 
  • Has worked in DEI in higher ed and in other places.
  • People who have experience issues with EDI and those in administration have different points of view. Hannahs understands and can make connections between them.

The evolution of diversity work: Inequity Regimes in Organizational Practice

  • Three P's - Pandemic, Protest, and Politics
  • The trajectory of the diversity field began in the 1960s. 
  • Implicit bias trainings take an individualistic approach. They have not made large change in what is occurring.
  • “There is no thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” ― Audre Lorde 
  • All organizations has inequality regimes.  Inequality is built into what they do. Organizations are not inherently neutral.
    • The basis of inequality.
    • The shape and degree of inequality
    • Organizational processes that produce inequality
    • The visibility of inequality and the legitimacy of inequality
    • Control and compliance

Tangible steps for change

  • The feel good parts of diversity can be damaging. We need to get to the riskier parts. We need to treat it like a disease. Working on this is not always pleasant.
  • Diversity focuses on numbers
  • Equity focused on policies and practices
  • Inclusion is the work to make ensure that all people feel that they belong. How do practice accountability? How do you manage conflict?
  • (Social) Justice is work that is focused on systemic or transformative change at the root of the problem and attempts to right historical wrongs.
  • Social justice practices = Anti-racist practices
  • Neutrality is no longer an option
  • Where Does Your Organization Fall on the Scale of Anti-racism? (2020)
  • Anti-Racist Organization Development

 How to be an anti-racist leader (did not get all the steps mentioned)

  • Think beyond equity, diversity, and inclusion
  • Vigilant self-awareness
  • Acknowledge white supremacy and its impact
  • Reflect on your leadership team
  • Identify and acknowledge the problem
  • Do an assessment. Think tactically.
  • Define DEI for your organization. Where is it? How explicit is it?  It is integrated into your mission, etc.?
  • you also need to do strategy development, implementation, learning....
  • Anchor yourself and your organization in common language.


  • Is a community an organization? Yes...but work internally first, then apply it externally. 
  • How do we respond to organizations that aspirationally call themselves anti-racist though they acknowledge they are “not there yet” to encourage the motivation for change without misrepresenting the current culture? Anti-racism is a practice, not a destination.  It is okay that you want to be one and to work towards it.
  • For a library just getting started, is it best to invite those interested employees in meeting regularly (with administration's support) to begin to form a solid foundation, then move toward all-staff and board education? Yes, bringing the people together who want to do the work is good. However, they need the skills, power, and budget. Be clear about purpose and capacity.
  • How do we help communities understand the difference between equality (the same for everyone) and equity (the need for some to be elevated or receive more in order to receive justice)? There are lots of good resources available on the Internet and many examples.
  • What if you are the only person of color in your workplace? Build your support network. Find your allies and accomplices. Understand your capacity on any given day to be "the" spokesperson. 
  • Our staff reflect the community. Some of them are racist. Any words of advice? Raise the expectations of what is permissible at work.


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