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UC Berkeley Library Task Force on Racial Justice: March 2021 report

Content section: 

Table of contents

Full report

Non-Sensitive Information Briefing

To: Jeff MacKie-Mason, University Librarian and Chief Digital Scholarship Officer
From: Sheehan Grant and Shannon Monroe, UC Berkeley Library Racial Justice Task Force (RJTF) Co-Chairs
Cc: Elizabeth Dupuis, Senior Associate University Librarian; Salwa Ismail, Associate University Librarian for Digital Initiatives and Information Technology; Jo Anne Newyear-Ramirez, Associate University Librarian for Scholarly Resources; Susan Swarts, Associate University Librarian, Administrative Services & Organizational Effectiveness; Elaine Tennant, Director of The Bancroft Library; Peter Zhou, Director of the East Asian Library; Louise Gregory, Executive Director of Development; Tiffany Grandstaff, Director of Communications
Date: March 4th, 2021
Others Ccs who need to know: DeEtta Jones and Associates
BLUF: The purpose of this briefing is to provide an overview of the work of the UC Berkeley Library Task Force on Racial Justice (RJTF) in preparation for its first meeting with the University Library Cabinet during the Spring 2021 semester. This briefing includes a list of proposed recommendations and actionable strategies for improving the ways in which racism and discrimination can be addressed within the campus library system.

Description of topic

Historical Context

On July 9th, 2020, the University Library Cabinet created the charge for a UC Berkeley Library Racial Justice Task Force (RJTF) in response to a widespread national summer of uprisings following the deaths of multiple Black people by police forces, with the purpose of working with the University Library leadership “to develop specific and actionable recommendations that advance the Library’s mission and the campus’s operating principles in ways that emphasize our commitment to racial justice and work actively to defeat racism and discrimination both within our workplace and in our outreach to the external community we serve.”

Following a call for feedback on the initial charge of the RJTF on July 14th, 2020 and open invitation for those who wish to participate to apply, the task force membership and Co-chair positions were filled over the course of the next few months. Co-chairs were advised that task force members had been selected to “create a balanced team, taking into account the group distribution of multiple factors...: racial and ethnic diversity, job classification diversity, Library division diversity, gender diversity, and committee leadership experience.” Additionally, more applicants had applied than spaces available to serve on the task force.

On September 1st, 2020, RJTF Co-chairs were confirmed. The final charge and membership of the RJTF were publicly announced on September 8th, 2020. Co-chairs then began reaching out to task force members and consultants, and hosted the inaugural meeting of the RJTF on September 22nd, 2020.

Members

  • Immaculate Adesida Generalist, Human Resources
  • Angela Arnold Supervisor, Circulation and Stacks, Music Library
  • Jen Brown Librarian, Undergraduate Learning and Research
  • Francis Francisco Circulation Supervisor, Bioscience, Natural Resources & Public Health Library
  • Sheehan Grant, Co-chair Chief Operations Manager, Arts & Humanities Division
  • Mohamed Hamed Librarian, Middle Eastern & Near Eastern Studies
  • Brian M. Light Chief Operations Manager, Social Sciences Division
  • Shannon Monroe, Co-chair Head, Interlibrary Lending/Duplication Services
  • Liladhar Pendse Librarian, East European and Eurasian Studies and Latin American Studies
  • Naomi Shiraishi Japanese Cataloging Librarian, East Asian Library
  • Jesse Silva Librarian, Scholarly Resources Strategy and Federal Government Information
  • Lisa Tsuchitani Continuing Faculty, Department of Ethnic Studies
  • Christina Velazquez Fidler Digital Archivist, The Bancroft Library

Please refer to the attached Appendix for full biographical profiles of each RJTF member.

Charge

The charge of RJTF is to:

  • Develop a set of preliminary recommendations to the University Library Cabinet by February 2021 which aligns with the stated mission and values of the Library, and
  • Develop a plan that outlines deliverables by August 2021 for the following:
    • Internal workplace: Issues that affect the Library’s workplace culture (i.e. recruitment, retention, committee structures, and daily interactions)
    • External community: Issues that affect Library users (i.e. access to collections, community curation, and physical space design)

The following ongoing “areas of work” have been identified by the RJTF (* Leads):

  1. Strategic Plan: M. Hamed, B. Light*, S. Monroe, N. Shiraishi, and L. Tsuchitani*
  2. Staffing Needs: I. Adesida, J. Brown, F. Francisco, L. Pendse, and C. Velazquez Fidler*
  3. Staff Retention: I. Adesida, A. Arnold*, S. Grant, and L. Pendse
  4. Staff Recruitment: I. Adesida*, A. Arnold, B. Light, S. Monroe, and N. Shiraishi
  5. Standing Committee: A. Arnold, J. Brown*, S. Grant, S. Monroe, L. Pendse, J. Silva, and L. Tsuchitani
  6. Library Collections: M. Hamed, L. Pendse, J. Silva*, and C. Velazquez Fidler

Accomplishments to date

  • 17 June 2020: The name, mission, and objectives of the RJTF are established.
  • 9 July 2020: The University Library Cabinet sends an “Open Call” for nominations and applications to serve on the RJTF, which yielded more applicants (20) than spaces available on the task force (13).
  • 31 August 2020: The charge of the RJTF is finalized.
  • 1 September 2020*: RJTF members are selected by the University Library Cabinet. Co-chairs begin to meet weekly, as well as reach out to DeEtta Jones and Associates who have been hired by the University Library Cabinet to assist the RJTF in realizing its objectives. Co-chairs establish a shared Google Drive space to organize collaborative processes for the RJTF, including a “Big Ideas'' catchment document and a resource page for RJTF members about ongoing education opportunities and related project examples. Co-chairs reach out to RJTF members to identify viable recurring meeting dates going forward.
  • 8 September 2020: The final charge and membership of the RJTF is publicly announced by the University Library Cabinet.
  • 22 September 2020*: RJTF hosts its first meeting, at which time its mission and objectives are reviewed, Community Agreements are established, and our hopes for the work are discussed. Monthly meetings also are scheduled.
  • 1 October 2020: RJTF Co-chairs host an “open house” meeting to follow-up on issues raised during its inaugural general meeting, as well as further discuss the direction and import of the RJTF and its organizational structure.
  • 13 October 2020*: RJTF holds its second meeting, at which time group composition concerns and campus outreach efforts are discussed, as well as provisional ideas for transformational organizational change.
  • 29 October 2020: RJTF Co-chairs host an optional “open house” meeting, during which such topics as the Library Strategic Plan and the consideration of affiliate library perspectives with respect to the work are discussed.
  • 10 November 2020*: RJTF holds its third meeting, at which time such topics as salary, assessment tools, and hiring and recruitment practices are discussed.
  • 3 December 2020*: Co-chairs meet with the University Library Cabinet to provide an overview of the areas of work which have been identified by the RJTF to date.
  • 8 December 2020*: RJTF holds its final meeting for Fall 2020, during which time the following was discussed: an update on the December 3 meeting with the University Library Cabinet and a timeline for completing the work of the RJTF. Task force agrees to utilize some of the consultants’ time to work with the University Library Cabinet members to help contextualize the changes and be prepared to digest its outcomes.
  • 11 January 2021: Co-chairs meet with DeEtta Jones and Associates for a new year check-in on progress of the briefing.
  • 12 January 2021*: RJTF holds its fifth meeting, at which time working groups and leads are formed to further develop the long and short-term initiatives/recommendations for the briefing to present to the University Librarian, Jeff MacKie-Mason, for his initial review.
  • 4 February 2021: Co-chairs share the initial version of the briefing with the University Librarian for his review.
  • 9 February 2021*: RJTF holds its sixth meeting with special guest, the University Librarian, at which time the initial version of the briefing is discussed and a Q&A session is held.
  • 17 February 2021: Co-chairs meet with DeEtta Jones and Associates to discuss ongoing developments within each working group’s initiatives/recommendations.
  • 26 February 2021: RJTF Co-chairs host an optional “open house” meeting, at which the updated briefing, questions for University Library Cabinet, and presentation documents are discussed.
  • 3 March 2021: Co-chairs share the updated briefing and questions to the University Library Cabinet for their review in preparation for the upcoming meeting with all task force members on March 11.
  • 9 March 2021*: RJTF holds its seventh meeting, at which the documentation from the working groups for each recommendation presented in the briefing will be discussed.
  • 11 March 2021*: RJTF meets with the University Library Cabinet to discuss/present the briefing, questions from task force members, and confirm next steps.

*Note: RJTF general meetings are monthly and two hours in length. In addition to these meetings, RJTF working groups led by and composed of RJTF members have been meeting every other week for at least one hour in 2021. RJTF Co-chairs meet weekly with each other, University Library leadership, and DeEtta Jones and Associates to plan, organize, and lead the work of the RJTF when needed.

Recommendations

Please note that all recommendations listed below, both “long-term” and “short-term,” are not intended to be considered mutually exclusive. Each should be considered interdependently linked in order to realize a holistic vision and strategy of racial justice for both the Library and the campus community at large.

Long-term recommendations

1. Revisit the current Library Strategic Plan and planning process for the future to ensure that:

  • Principles of racial justice, including the recommendations of the RJTF, are integrated throughout the plan;
  • All Library stakeholders — including the RJTF, are involved in the conceptualization and realization of its development, and
  • All Library staff, including the University Library Cabinet, are held accountable to the values and strategies outlined in the Library Strategic Plan.

Proposed revisions (bolded) to the current University Library Mission and Vision include:

  • “We will strategically curate, collect, share, preserve and digitize scholarly content, and develop user-centered tools that connect people with resources at any time and from anywhere, driven by a commitment to racial justice.
  • “We will support new research lifecycles, champion new forms of scholarship and transform the practice of scholarly communication at UC Berkeley, informed by our commitment to addressing issues of systemic racism.
  • “We will build and sustain a culture grounded in principles of racial justice that enables a skilled and engaged workforce to thrive in an ever-changing environment, with an increased emphasis on assessment, efficiency and continuous improvement.”
  • “We will develop communications and outreach globally to improve our service delivery, strengthen our contributions to the university’s mission – particularly with respect to eradicating systemic racism, and attract financial support to tackle our priorities.”

2. Create a full-time AUL and/or staff leadership position dedicated to Anti-Racism/Racial Justice to ensure that an institutional commitment to addressing systemic racial inequities in library public services, staffing, resource allocation, collections development, professional development, etc. is realized both within the University library system and for the campus community. Responsibilities for this position could include:

  • Develop new and champion existing library-focused DEIB and anti-racism initiatives, programs, and trainings;
  • Develop a Diversity Strategic Plan for the University Library in collaboration with the RJTF, which includes short-term and long-term goals for increasing, retaining, and supporting staff diversity within the University library system;
  • Head LHRD and work with the UL, CAPA, and other library bodies to ensure library accountability to DEIB and anti-racism work at all levels of the library;
  • Lead Area Studies, providing dedicated leadership and addressing the unique challenges and needs of area studies librarians, patrons, and collections, and
  • Participate in and contribute to campus-wide initiatives and student-led efforts to advance equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging.

3. Review, assess and correct salary inequities among library staff and librarians; identify advancement impasse and create structures to ensure marginalized communities are offered a path to success in the Library system. Suggested actions in support of this initiative:

  • Review of existing staff and librarian salaries with a commitment to achieve at least midpoint in salary ranges for all existing employees;
  • Review of salary assignment practices at the hiring phase;
  • Succession mapping/planning program to establish and support formalized training sequences and expand mentorship programs to provide a clearer way forward in organization for underrepresented groups;
  • Create a rubric to guide in decision-making for a common, transparent equity increase process;
  • Establish novel ways of tracking demographic data across the organization to create DEIB data sets for future reform; especially, tracking intersection of demographics with pay and career advancement.

4. Reassess current outreach and recruitment policies to ensure that principles of racial equity are consistently applied and maintained. Areas of assessment could include:

  • Ensuring that inclusive language is used in job descriptions/postings to encourage more diverse pools of applicants;
  • Broadening outreach for job postings in communities and organizations dedicated to communities of color;
  • Creating institutional processes to ensure that library search committee compositions reflect a diversity of experiences, perspectives, and expertise;
  • Requiring that members of library search committees are trained in principles of implicit bias; The University Library has already started implementing this goal;
  • Ensuring that library development efforts include outreach to donors of color and outreach efforts to support internships, scholarships, and programs for students and staff of color.

5. Create a standing committee (SC) dedicated to addressing issues of systemic racism in the library -- a permanent advisory body to the University Library Cabinet under the executive sponsorship of the University Librarian. This SC could be composed of current RJTF members, and will be charged with developing its name, mission, objectives, and structure; its membership; and its priority areas of work.

The RJTF believes that the following commitments from the University Library Cabinet would be critical in order to ensure the success of this SC:

  • Semesterly meetings with the SC to allow for ongoing updates and dialogues about its work and the resolution of identified issues;
  • An assigned staff member who will serve as an “administrative liaison” between the standing committee and the University Librarian and Cabinet -- i.e. attending and scheduling meetings between members of the SC and the Cabinet, etc; and
  • A preliminary budget of $25K which possibly could be used to support the following: SC member attendance at relevant DEIB conferences, library-wide educational programs organized by the SC, and stipends for all SC members.

6. Ensure collecting practices reflect DEI, using Area Studies as an initial starting point. This initiative would include investigating and suggesting various models the Library can incorporate in order to address issues of equity with respect to collections, including budgeting, positions, technical processing, and workflow inequities.

  • Use DJA consultants to conduct an environmental scan of institutions utilizing different Area Studies models to determine a model that works best for Berkeley;
  • Review and incorporate DEI concepts into selector competencies and practices;
  • Ensure the collection reflects diversity of formats and languages of California and Berkeley’s many diverse communities;
  • Incorporate smaller, independent publishers, vendors, and service providers into Library workflows in order to increase diversity of perspectives and collections:
    • Relying solely on large vendors can result in homogamous collections, potentially reducing our distinctiveness.
    • Smaller publishers can provide different, sometimes radical, perspectives which are of interest to current campus researchers

Short-term recommendations

In addition to the above long-term recommendations the RJTF has developed to address the six ongoing areas of work identified and presented by RJTF Co-Chairs Shannon Monroe and Sheehan Grant to the Cabinet on December 3rd, 2020, the RJTF requests immediate support for both the following “best practices” that we have developed and suggestions for improvement we have received through the course of our work to date:

1. Create a library-wide “space” (i.e. Library-run website) for sharing announcements about past and upcoming webinars, conferences, workshops, educational events, activism, etc. related to issues of racial justice; as well as the creation of a permanent fund to support staff participation and attendance at these events. Events and activities which have been sourced, created and attended by RJTF members thus far include:

2. Host a monthly forum on the topic of anti-racism initiatives, equity and inclusion, and use the feedback elicited in these forums to develop new staff learning and support initiatives for the library.

3. Provide a response to the recommendations of the LAUC-B Diversity Librarian Task Force Report.

4. Update and move the AR/DEIB statement from the News blog (posted Sept. 2020) to the Library Home Page.

5. Revise/update the Statement of Values page (circa 2000) linked directly from the Home Page.

6. Host a Library Town Hall to introduce and share the work of the RJTF after our recommendations have been finalized, which would include members of RJTF and the Cabinet.

7. Critically examine who is represented in library spaces (i.e. images, named buildings, etc.) and create a process to make our spaces more welcoming and inclusive.

8. Charge a group to determine how we can provide curricular support for faculty interested in bringing diverse scholarship to their courses, syllabi, reading materials, and assigned datasets.

Conclusion

It is our sincerest hope that the work of the RJTF will continue to serve as an important foundation for addressing issues of systemic racism within the campus library system. We look forward to working in partnership with you and other campus leaders to operationalize the above proposed recommendations.

Appendix

RJTF Membership

Immaculate Adesida
Immaculate Adesida manages all HR functions for the non-academic Staff at the Library and at the time of this Task Forces, also manages Academic Librarian Recruitments, Benefits, and Employee and Labor Relations. Immaculate has a Master's Degree in Human Resources Management and Labor Relations. She is an ardent advocate for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging and does her best to promote this through the recruitment of diverse applicant pools for advertised vacant positions in the Library.

Angela Arnold
Angela Arnold (ScB Neuroscience and AB Music from Brown University, MM Vocal Performance from DePaul University) has since 2006 been responsible for circulation, stacks management, and security functions of the Music Library, one of the largest campus branch locations. A professional soprano soloist and chorister, she has sung with organizations including Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, San Francisco Opera, Mark Morris Dance Group, and Chicago Symphony. Acknowledging all paths to advocacy for marginalized communities, her passion for social justice only deepens as a parent of color and multigenerational caregiver of loved ones with special needs.

Jen Brown
Jennifer Brown is an Undergraduate Learning & Research Librarian at the University of California, Berkeley, where she employs critical pedagogies such as critical race theory (CRT) as part of her reference and instructional approaches. She received her M.S. in Information from the University of Michigan, and her B.A. in Media Studies from UC Berkeley. Her research and creative interests include understanding how labor inequities permeate the academy, examining institutional diversity work through the lens of performativity, and close-reading media through the lens of diasporic Blackness, queerness, and disability.

Francis Francisco
Francis Francisco is the Evening and Weekend Circulation Supervisor at the Bioscience, Natural Resources, & Public Health Library at UC Berkeley. Francis brings with him 8 years of supervising experience from his alma mater, UC Davis, where he worked with a diverse team and student populace.

Sheehan Grant, Co-chair
Sheehan Grant is the Chief Operations Manager of the Arts & Humanities Division. He began work in the Moffitt Library, graduated with a B.A. in Psychology. Returned to campus in 2005 to work in Biosciences Library, concurrent with completion of a M.A. in Africana Studies, New York University. He has worked his way through various library public service roles including circulation, Privileges/Infodesk, and operations management of five (5) Arts & Humanities Division libraries: Art History/Classics Library, Graduate Services, Morrison Library, Music Library, South/Southeast Asia Library. He recognizes that through service a better understanding and investment in others continues to make change possible.

Mohamed Hamed
Mohamed Hamed serves as the Middle Eastern & Near Eastern Studies Librarian at the University of California, Berkeley Library since 2017. He formerly was the Middle Eastern & African Studies Librarian in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has earned his MA, and PhD in Library and Information Science from Cairo University. Previous professional affiliations include The American University in Cairo, Santa Monica College Library, and Arabic Language instruction at UNC Chapel Hill. Professionally Mohamed has participated in several key organizations including the Middle East Librarians Association, the Africana Librarians Council, and the Arab Federation for Libraries and Information. Mohamed is active publishing and presenting on the library usage, particularly for the Middle East and area studies resources in the U.S.

Brian M. Light
Brian Light is the Chief Operations Manager for the Social Sciences Division. He has been working in the library since 1999. Before coming to Berkeley he also worked in the Ohio State University Library. Brian graduated from Ohio State with a B.A. in Military History and has an MLIS from San Jose State. For the last 2 years, Brian has been championing staff issues UC System wide as a member of CUCSA.

Shannon Monroe, Co-chair
Shannon Monroe is the Head of Interlibrary Lending & Duplication Services in the Interlibrary Services Department; with previous stints at the Northern Regional Library Facility (NRLF), and the Engineering Library. While working as a Student Library Employee in Doe Library and Berkeley Law Library, she received her B.A. in History. Shannon is a published poet and genre fiction writer. And during her time on the Library’s Task Force on Racial Justice, she continues to learn, and see the value and power of turning words into actions, and getting into “Good Trouble” in order to bring positive, transformative change for our communities and spaces.

Liladhar Pendse
Liladhar is the librarian for East European and Eurasian Studies, the Caribbean and Latin American Studies. He believes in the importance of diversity, inclusion, and social justice for all.

Naomi Shiraishi
Naomi Shiraishi is the Japanese Cataloging Librarian at C. V. Starr East Asian Library. She is responsible for creating and maintaining records for the library's Japanese collection in all formats. Her research interest lies in social justice issues and cataloging. She received MLS and Ph.D. (philosophy) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Jesse Silva
Jesse Silva is the Scholarly Resources Strategy and Federal Government Information Librarian at UC Berkeley. He believes library collections should reflect the diversity of the people who use them. Over the last 20 years, Jesse has worked at four large academic libraries in two states, and has incorporated representation into his collection development practices.

Lisa Tsuchitani
Dr. Lisa Hirai Tsuchitani is a continuing faculty member in the Asian American & Asian Diaspora Studies Program of the Department of Ethnic Studies. A graduate of the Asian American Studies, East Asian Studies, and Social and Cultural Studies Programs at UC Berkeley, Dr. Tsuchitani centers her research, teaching, and advocacy efforts on critical race theory, critical pedagogy, and educational equity issues. She serves as founder and chair of the Japanese American Studies Advisory Committee, board chair of the Japanese American Women Alumnae of UC Berkeley, and faculty co-chair of the Asian American & Pacific Islander Standing Committee, an inaugural advisory body to the Vice Chancellor of Equity & Inclusion.

Christina Velazquez Fidler
Christina Velazquez Fidler is the Digital Archivist at The Bancroft Library and Chair of the LAUC-B Committee on Diversity. She manages a multi-faceted program, developing and implementing archival policies, technologies, and workflows that support Bancroft born-digital archival operations. She received her MLIS from San Jose State University’s School of Library and Information Science and completed her BA at Humboldt State University.