Equity, Justice, and Anti-Racism at Stewart Library

At Stewart Library, we commit ourselves to using an equity and justice framework to guide all of the work that we do, as called for by the Equity Framework in the WSU Strategic Plan. We commit ourselves to anti-racism as part of our mission and obligation to advance knowledge for equity and social justice.

Between April 2021 and May 2022, Stewart Library staff, faculty, and administrators participated in a series of workshops focused on developing an equity-minded, anti-racist, and anti-oppressive practice. These action-oriented workshops served as the foundation for the ongoing work of critically analyzing our library policies and practices and implementing substantive change.

The WSU Strategic Plan’s Equity Framework outlines several requirements for an equity-minded practice, including: “Recognition that the elimination of structural racism in institutions of higher education requires intentional critical deconstruction of structures, policies, practices, norms and values assumed to be race neutral. (Witham, K., Malcolm-Piqueux, L. E., Dowd, A. C., & Bensimon, E. M. America’s Unmet Promise: The Imperative for Equity in Higher Education, 2015).

An equity-minded audit is one way to do that critical deconstruction. The library is using this approach, rather than focusing only on quantitative benchmarking, for a number of reasons. The library intersects with the student learning experience in multiple ways, across many functions. Our role is to help create conditions that promote student learning and advance equitable outcomes. We acknowledge that our practices and policies might create unintended barriers and inequities for historically marginalized groups, including BIPOC and low income students in particular. A critical analysis of traditional practice and formal policy is best suited for the library’s specific role in the university.

The library hired consultants with academic library expertise and experience. It was critical to work with consultants who understand the specific history and context of libraries in higher education. Our consultants utilized a design justice framework. This framework aligns with the USHE Equity Lens Framework.

Read our Year One Report to learn more about the library’s first steps in critically deconstructing and changing our policies and practices to promote equitable outcomes. This is ongoing work and we will post annual updates here.

Please continue to hold us accountable.

Email Wendy Holliday, Dean of the Library

August 29, 2022