As we’ve explored in our previous work, academic libraries build collections in the context of their parent institutions—primarily to support the institution’s research, teaching, and learning mission. They also build collections that document and preserve the cultural and scientific heritage of our society to represent a wide range of perspectives. In these efforts, universities and their libraries are developing approaches that address calls for greater diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) with a focus on creating space for the perspectives of historically marginalized groups.

Yet, even in the case of clearly articulated institutional DEIA goals, assessing the diversity of collections in order to responsively shift towards greater inclusivity nonetheless remains a difficult task. In light of these challenges, Ithaka S+R is designing and facilitating a cohort project to assess the areas of diversity most critical to academic libraries and to develop organization-specific strategies by which each participating institution will build and advocate for the importance of diverse collections.

This project seeks to identify how academic libraries can better assess and build DEIA-oriented collections and to promote best practices in identifying and documenting a library-wide DEIA collection development strategy.

How will the project work?

Over the course of the project, participating libraries will consider new collection development strategies based on emerging best practices and an evaluation of their institution’s DEIA initiatives, and will then assess a portion of their collection holdings. Starting in late spring 2024, cohort members will convene for virtual meetings, symposia, and workshops in order to collaboratively undertake this work in a peer-learning environment.

Across the lifetime of the project, participants will be asked to gather and create institutional documentation as well as to present outcomes to fellow cohort members of their individual activities and assessment. At the conclusion of the project, each institution will have drafted or reviewed a DEIA collection priority statement and developed a plan for further collection development, while building up the capacity to regularly self-assess their progress on DEIA success metrics.

To date, the following institutions have confirmed their participation:

  • Duke University
  • Kent State University
  • McMaster University
  • The University of Buffalo
  • The University of Delaware
  • The University of Ontario
  • The University of Rochester
  • The University of Toronto
  • Towson University
  • University of New Mexico
  • University of North Carolina, Charlotte
  • Western Michigan University

How to get involved

If your institution is interested in learning more about participating in the inaugural cohorts, please send an expression of interest to Tracy Bergstrom (Tracy.Bergstrom@ithaka.org) and Ioana Hulbert (Ioana.Hulbert@ithaka.org) by March 31, 2024. We will then provide a more detailed prospectus including the timeline, staff capacity expectations, and cost.