UCLA Library Anti-Racism Initiative Update

In the wake of a nationwide reckoning with racism and racial violence, the UCLA Library embarked on an Anti-Racism Initiative (ARI) to uncover and understand how systemic racism and oppression operate within the Library. The initiative’s overarching goal is to embed an active commitment to anti-racism into the organizational culture in order to create and sustain an equitable, supportive, and welcoming workplace.UCLA Library Anti-Racism Initiative

Guiding this important work is the ARI Steering Team, composed of representatives from divisions and job responsibilities across the Library.

The steering team, which reports to University Librarian Virginia Steel, includes representation from the university’s affiliate libraries and ex-officio representation from the Library’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) committee.
Jennifer Chan (Ex Officio; Library EDI Committee Chair)
Ashleigh Darby (ARI Co-Chair; Unified Access Services)
Hillary Gordon (English Reading Room Liaison)
Stephen Gurnick (ARI Co-Chair; Digital Initiatives and Information Technology)
Douglas Johnson (Chicano Studies Research Center Liaison)
Jasmine Jones (Library Special Collections)
Diana King (Ex Officio; Library EDI Advisor)
Christopher Lopez (User Engagement, Research & Rosenfeld Division)
Carlo Medina (Ex Officio; Library EDI Advisor)
Renee Romero (User Engagement, Sciences Division)
Megan Rosenbloom (Collection Management and Scholarly Communication)
Alejandro Sanchez-Nunez (Clark Library Liaison)
Lilia Sandoval (Ex Officio; Library Human Resources)
Maya Montañez Smukler (Film & Television Archive)

The team is supported in its work by the Library’s EDI advisors who work with the UCLA-wide Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. The steering team meets weekly to manage the evolution of the ARI Framework.

The initial framework for the Anti-Racism Initiative was formed from suggestions and high-priority areas shared by UCLA Library workers and organized by the Library's EDI Committee leadership.

"This is just the start of an initiative intended to become an iterative ongoing program that impacts institutional culture and policy in a meaningful way,” said Library EDI Advisor Diana King. “We view it as crucial for the initiative to involve organization-wide learning, leadership, and participation over the long term."

Since the initiative was launched in August, the ARI Steering Team has been meeting to establish foundational team logistics and structure project teams to take on the initial ARI Framework charge. In October, the steering team issued a call for staff volunteers to participate in a series of ARI Framework project teams; thirty-one staff members have joined. 

The work underway--across multiple library units and departments, interrogating their practices, services, and engagements--strengthens and embeds the ARI throughout the Library.

Below are some of the preliminary objectives the Library aims to advance in the coming year. 

BIPOC Safe Spaces
Establish safe spaces for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in the library.

Recruitment and retention data project
Obtain and analyze recruitment and retention data to identify trends and issues related to underrepresented library workers.

Update Library Conduct Policy on UCPD Engagement
Review Library Code of Conduct, training, communication, and relationship with UCPD.

Workplace Climate and Culture & Equitable Opportunities for Advancement
Aims to assess the current organizational climate and culture of the Library with an emphasis on structural and institutional racism and its impact on staff.

Collections
Assess Library collecting and description activities within the lens of anti-racism.

The Library is committed to continuing to foster spaces for learning and cultural competencies, holding our systems and staff accountable to uprooting and fixing systemic inequities, and advocating for anti-racism and justice as an overarching and persistent priority. In this, the work of the ARI Steering Team, Library units and departments, and Library staff will continue building upon these initial objectives and endeavors over the long-term.

As the project teams take shape with additional staff members, the team will be looking to the Library and wider UCLA community to actively participate in the dialogue and work to be undertaken ahead. For more information anti-racism@library.ucla.edu