In the months following the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent national reckoning for racial equity led by the Black Lives Matter movement, many higher education institutions pledged to renew their commitments to progress on racial justice imperatives. While equity, diversity, and inclusion have long been described by higher education leaders as strategic priorities of their institutions, many have now devoted resources to move beyond affirmations of institutional values and toward activities that actively fight racism.

To strengthen organizational equity and justice, over the coming year the libraries of Binghamton University and the University of Delaware will partner with Ithaka S+R to develop and launch an anti-racism talent management audit. We will work together to identify actionable reforms, building on and extending the impact of prior Ithaka S+R projects on representational diversity, organizational culture, and community engagement undertaken with library, museum, and archive partners. In their 2020 Anti-Racism Statement, members of Binghamton University Libraries faculty and staff acknowledged their “responsibility as representatives of a predominantly white institution (PWI) to repair the effects of institutionalized racism and advance anti-racist practices.” Our talent management audit is an important piece of this work. Likewise, the Library, Museums and Press at the University of Delaware have committed to examine their services, policies, and practices through an anti-racist lens, and this commitment aligns perfectly with our collaboration.

Through the audit, we will inventory policies, practices, and outcomes related to recruitment, employment, promotion, and retention patterns at our libraries. Across organizations and sectors, systemic racism and resulting inequities have had a disproportionate impact on Black staff members, and given this, the audit will maintain a strong emphasis on organizational culture and climate issues affecting Black employees in particular. We will take an inclusive and holistic approach, gathering perspectives from both library leadership and employees, examining policy documentation, and analyzing representational diversity. At the culmination of the initiative, Ithaka S+R will facilitate a workshop with library leadership to target areas for improvement and begin to set goals and mechanisms for tracking future progress.

We expect to learn a lot together while conducting this project over the next year and plan on sharing an update later in 2021 regarding the potential for offering the service more broadly. If you will be in attendance for the ACRL 2021 conference this spring, please join us for an in-depth discussion of this work on Wednesday, April 14th from 3:00-4:00pm CT. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions as we begin our work.