ACRL Council’s Midwinter Discussion of Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity

ACRL LogoGuest post by Michelle Demeter, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Services at Florida State University Libraries

This weekend the release of Black Panther smashed a number of records for attendance and revenue.[1] Considering the film’s impactful story and characters, many people in the media and across social media hailed its introduction as the beginning of a much-needed cultural and social sea change. There are numerous studies documenting the importance of films offering characters that people can identify with and how they can impact how people think and act.

Walt Hickey, a writer for fivethirtyeight, offers a unique look at one character, Shuri, who especially redefines what representation in film can accomplish.[2] Shuri, played by Letitia Wright, is a strong black woman who is not only a princess but a technological phenom who develops tech that outclasses anything the West has even dared to imagine let alone actually create. Hickey cites several other films that positively impacted the STEM fields, noting the rise in archeologists, paleontologists, and engineers following the release of Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, and Star Trek. Perhaps the only thing more astonishing than the success of Black Panther and its resoundingly positive reception is the fact it has taken the film industry this long to get it right. Similar criticism was levied when Wonder Woman hit theaters in Summer 2017.

So what does this all have to do with libraries? As it turns out, quite a lot.

While libraries position themselves as neutral and inclusive, there are several reports that would contradict this narrative. Library staffing is still predominantly white, and several initiatives have been launched by the American Library Association (ALA) and recently the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) to address the discrepancies in our own profession.[3] At 2018 Midwinter, ACRL Leadership Council spent about half of its meeting discussing the current landscape of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in academic libraries.

Key in these discussions was a worksheet that included the following questions:

  • What are the EDI initiatives being implemented at your libraries (e.g., policies, collection development, teaching approaches, etc.)
  • What campus-level EDI initiatives are in place at your institutions, and how have they affected your libraries?
  • What are any library or campus-level incidents of EDI-related intimidation or harassment that have occurred at your institutions, and how have these incidents affected the library?

These three questions allowed for some very intense and honest discussions at my table. We all talked about how gender, age, race, religion, and sexual orientation have been issues at our libraries and the campuses at large. Many of us, all women but only two women of color, discussed personal experiences with outright contradictions of EDI or microaggressions in one or more of the above categories, and it became obvious we have problems despite our best efforts.

During the course of our discussion, honesty, trust, and safety emerged as common concerns. We all felt it was important to be honest with one another and our administrators, but most of us felt that was impossible as we did not feel it was safe to do so. Several woman at my table voiced concerns about how to best help coworkers understand how some well-intentioned actions or words may have prevented women and people of color from speaking their minds. Many feared being labeled as “touchy,” or “angry,” or “motivated by emotions.” Others worried they would be seen as less able to be a leader. While I listened to my peers, I became conflicted because I have felt the same way many times and I was both glad I was not alone in the experience but saddened because it was such a prevalent occurrence and seems to be continuing despite our best efforts.

However, at one point while discussing age-related microaggressions, one woman recognized something she said to a coworker and was astonished to hear that it may have offended her coworker. She expressed genuine regret and vowed to be more careful, even if making what she thought was a joke. Because we established a safe environment of honesty and trust earlier in the meeting, we all felt empowered to say things we may have otherwise shied from. This is the type of open dialogue we need to help foster and promote in our libraries, both among our coworkers and the patrons we serve.

Despite this misleadingly simple answer, the main question that remains is how do we continue to affect real change and try to address the issues at our institutions? Certainly libraries are moving in the right direction by offering changes in hiring practices where we make statements on diversity, equity, and inclusion part of the application, and ask applicants to provide their own statements in addition to answering EDI questions during the interviews. HR-led trainings were another lauded option.

Two of the most-cited initiatives were the creation of library-led diversity teams and diversity residency positions, two directives my institution of Florida State University recently began. We recently opened three librarian positions and are expecting to have them filled and running by this summer. And not to be contrarian because these initiatives are all helpful in their own way, but what would it take to get the profession to the point where these sorts of actions are unnecessary because they are a natural part of our professional lives?

It is heartening that ACRL is interested in what it can do to help move the needle on the conversation and actual change. Many suggestions were given including ACRL-led trainings, web tools, and documents to help librarians learn and grow as individuals. It is encouraging that ACRL led this discussion, and it was evident that each table was equally interested in actionable outcomes as they listed further ways to improve hiring practices, collection building, and coworker/patron interactions. Once the ideas are worked out, I am optimistic that we will see the changes in equity, diversity, and inclusion that many in the library profession have been waiting so long to experience.

[1] Scott Mendelson, “‘Black Panther’: All the Box Office Records It broke and Almost broke in its $235 million Debut,” Forbes, accessed 2/20/18 at

[2] Walt Hickey, “‘Black Panther’ Is Groundbreaking but Its Shuri Who Could Change the World” accessed 2/20/2018 at

[3] ALA, “Recruiting for Diversity” accessed 2/20/2018 at ALA, “Diversity Counts,” accessed 2/20/2018 at and its main page regarding Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at


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Linda’s Bookbag for a New Year!

Hello everyone,

Target with arrows captioned goal settingHere we are, early in a brand-new year. The most-commonly spoken word at this time of year may very well be the word “resolution,” the definition of which is “a firm resolve to do or not do something.” Considering that very generic explanation, there are days that I tend to make resolutions several times in one day 😊.

So I tend to avoid that word and would rather focus on the word “goal,” “an aim or desired result.” And since we have a 2-part webinar series coming up titled, “Ready, Set, Goal!” (February 16 and February 23), I wanted to talk about how our behavioral tendencies (or personalities) can affect our desire to set goals and our motivation to work toward them.

Many of you know that I present workshops on behavioral tendencies based on the Florence Littauer book and assessment titled, “Wired That Way.” Other words that are sometimes used to describe our behavioral tendencies are “personalities” or “temperaments.” Whatever word you choose to describe how differently we move through the world as individuals, I think we can all agree that our innate behaviors are tendencies and not etched in stone. That means there’s hope for any of those less-desirable tendencies we might have!

So let’s look at some of our differences when it comes to setting goals and why that process can be challenging for each of the styles.

The “popular” behavioral tendency, that person who loves people and fun, may struggle a bit with goal-setting, unless the goal is to have fun 😊. More serious goals can put a damper on living life to its fullest for these folks. They may need to have a very specific step-by-step process to achieve goals and may find it easier to tackle those goals in chunks, which is actually helpful for many of us.

The “powerful” behavioral tendency, that person who is ALL about the goal, may become a bit obsessed with achieving goals, competing, or simply getting it done! They can sometimes choose chasing goals in lieu of actually living life. Unlike other styles, powerfuls may need to step back from the pursuit of goals from time to time to stop and smell the roses.

The “perfect” behavioral tendency, the person who wants to make sure everything is, well…perfect, can sometimes get tunnel vision and not even realize there is an end goal in play. It’s all about the specifics, the logistics, the details – so much so, that progress toward the goal can be painfully slow or even worse, non-existent. The perfects among us may need to realize that a goal achieved is progress and we all need progress, not necessarily perfection.

The “peaceful” behavioral tendency, the person who likes things consistent, nice and easy, and a steady routine, can struggle with even finding a reason we should set goals. Why make life so challenging when the important things eventually – usually! – get done. The peacefuls may need to realize their own goals are often connected to the goals of others – and not accomplishing their goals can affect whether others are able to do so.

As you can see, setting goals and achieving those goals can be challenging to every one of us. That’s why you’ll want to register for that upcoming webinar series I mentioned earlier (Part 1 and Part 2). As a matter of fact, why not make that your resolution for today? 😊 Hope to see you there!

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A New Year – A Better Way of Evaluating the Impact of Our Training Programs

Happy 2018! The beginning of a new year offers us the opportunity to begin anew by examining the past and making plans for changes in the days, weeks and months to come.  What a gift for us as individuals and organizations.

In November of 2017, I completed an extensive three-day training course by the Kirkpatrick Partners on the 4 Levels of Training Evaluation. For many years, the Kirkpatrick family (Father, Son and Daughter) have been challenging the training world to “go deeper” in our evaluation processes, and in-turn to reap the rewards of training as a process, versus training as an event…a one day or hour and done experience.

In their book The Four Levels of Training Evaluation, they detail the four levels of evaluation as:

Level One: Reaction (Did they like the training/trainer/room/food)

Level Two: Learning (What did they learn? Were the training materials relevant/useful?

Level Three: Behavior (Applying what they learned)

Level Four: Results (How did the behavior change affect the business)

Most training programs evaluate their results at Level One and Level Two, partially because those levels are the easiest to measure, and because many organizations see training as an “event”, and not as a process that will go on months after the training day.

The problem with not “digging deeper” as the Kirkpatrick’s encourage us to do, is that we truly do not know that impact of our training dollars, time and resources. We can feel proud that “x” amount of people attended our training and that they had a good experience. We can also point to pre and post test results and surveys to measure what they attendees learned.

But, so what? Did they apply what the learned? Did their behavior change? Did the behavior change lead to the desired results? (Goals achieved…etc?)

In a program that I co-presented with Terry McQuown from the King County Public Library at ALA and the Washington Library Association Conference in 2017 titled “Making Training Stick for Supervisors”, we discussed the impact that the supervisor can have in application of the information learned, and taking our training evaluation to Level 3 and beyond. I recommend that you listen to the webinar that Terry and I recently presented for Infopeople to learn more:
Here is the link to the webinar

As you get ready to launch your next training program, I hope you will give the planning of the evaluation of your training as much time and thought as you give to the training itself.

Find ways to change your organizational thinking about what training is and isn’t. Training should not be a one and done event…instead, it should be viewed as a process. And training is definitely NOT about Level 1 (Reaction) and Level 2 (Learning) results. How will you evaluate your training based on Application and Behavior Change? How will you measure what is really important, and not what just looks good and is easy to measure?

If you have any questions about the Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels Model, please email me at I’m happy to share the knowledge I have learned and am continuing to learn as I consult with libraries and other organizations on getting more bang for our training dollars. And do use the link above for our archived webinar. You just might find yourself thinking about training evaluation in a new way — for the new year.

Note: Be sure to join Andrew’s upcoming webinar “Effective Workplace Communication Skills for New(er) Supervisors and Managers” on February 2nd at 10:00 Central Time. For more information and to register, follow this link…

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Returning to Linda’s Bookbag – Happy Thanksgiving!

GratitudeHello everyone,

As I was thinking about sharing my bookbag with you this month, I realized that some of the things in my bookbag aren’t really books.

I read dozens of books a year and I add to my reading through a host of magazine subscriptions such as American Libraries, Chief Learning Officer, Harvard Business Review, Psychology Today, and one of my favorites for “living life,” SUCCESS Magazine.

When I first saw an issue of SUCCESS several years ago, I will admit my cynicism. I concluded that it must be about how to become a millionaire by the age of 25 or some such fantasy. And although the magazine does sometimes speak to the idea of managing finances or growing a business, what I found interesting then and still find very helpful are the many articles on topics ranging from leadership skills to networking to decision making, to expressing gratitude for each day, which I think we can all relate to, especially at this time of year.

To give you an idea of the breadth of topics, a recent article was titled, “Would Today Be a Good Day to Die?” Sounds rather macabre, eh? Actually, it was written to encourage readers to think about how they move through each day – and how, at the end of the day, they would answer that question. If life must end, and we know it does for all of us, will I be able to look back at that specific day and know that I lived it well? Did I help someone learn something new? Did I simply help someone? Did I do something to encourage my own growth? Did I play with my kitties and throw toys for my dog? Did I enjoy the beautiful Florida weather? Did I notice how blue the sky is or how the birds at the feeder are sharing nicely? Did I take time to reflect on fond memories of those who are no longer with me?

Obviously, we all suffer from “blah” days now and then. Sometimes we even suffer from very bad days! The key is to recognize whether those types of days are the exception or the rule. If the blah or bad days are the rule, perhaps we need to find ways to lessen their frequency.

Although I strive to make most of my days great days, I decided to begin a simple gratitude list rather than a journal. I already use a journal for other writing and I didn’t want this to become another thing on my “to-do” list. Instead, I begin each day by writing at least one thing I’m thankful for – sometimes two or three or more. I actually number them to remind myself of what I have to be thankful for. Even though I only started a few months ago, my list is already close to 500! I amuse myself when I look back and see something I’ve recorded more than once without realizing it – my fuzzy blanket, for instance 😊. Sometimes those duplicates come within days of each other, which seems to indicate that I am particularly thankful for those particular items, since I don’t even realize I already recorded them!

I just jot down a word or phrase that describes what I’m thankful for that day. Sometimes it’s a person’s name. It could be hot water in the shower, an email to let me know someone is thinking of me, a kitty asleep on my lap (when they aren’t asleep, I’m not always so thankful, lol), a new booking I received to conduct training for someone – and a hundred other things if I just pay attention.

This ritual, for me, accomplishes two things: it requires me to look for things I’m thankful for every single day AND it allows me to look back and remind myself that I do indeed have much to be thankful for.

So…what are you thankful for? Was today a day well lived?

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5 Reasons to Eliminate Overdue Fines in Your Library

Over the past year or so, I’ve seen numerous reports of libraries who have eliminated their overdue fines. The more I hear about it, the more I am in favor of libraries eliminating overdue fines. There are several excellent reasons you should consider eliminating overdue fines in your library:

  • Do it for the children! Children and teens are probably the population most affected by the inability to check out materials due to the accrual of overdue fines. It can be difficult for them to get to the library on their own, and they have no control over whether their parents bring them to the library in time to return books.
  • Eliminate some stress for your frontline staff. We’ve probably all experienced the feeling of dread of having to tell a patron that they owe overdue fines on their account. Especially a problem patron, who will argue that they returned the materials on time, they put them in the book drop while we were closed, how dare we charge him when he returned them on time… all while the line at the circulation desk grows longer and longer. (How much am I getting paid for this? Oh, right. Not enough.)
  • Free up staff time. Collecting overdue fines can take up a nice chunk of staff time. Not only is there the interaction with the patron (especially the ones who argue about the fines), but the staff member also has to mark the fine paid in the ILS system, print the receipt, possibly ring up the fine on a cash register, and make change for the patron.
  • Foster goodwill in the community. We want the community to feel good about the library, not to have horror stories of unpaid overdue fines, collection notices, and disapproving librarians. We want people to feel welcome, not fear that they are going to be called out because they owe us 30 cents.
  • Libraries are about providing, not restricting, access. The American Library Association issued a policy statement on Library Services to the Poor, which states, in part, that ALA is in favor of “Promoting the removal of all barriers to library and information services, particularly fees and overdue charges.” ( Many times, overdue fines prevent access to those patrons who need it the most.

Yes, but…

I hear some of you saying, “But we’ve always had overdue fines!” “How will I replace that money in my budget?” “Won’t this teach people to be irresponsible?”

As far as your budget goes, figure out how much is actually overdue fines (not replacement materials). Many libraries find that it’s less than 1% of a library budget. Maybe you can make up that money in other ways. Perhaps your Friends group or your Foundation would be willing to host an annual fundraiser to make up that money. Maybe a group of local businesses would be willing to offset the overdue fines in return for good press. You could also place a donation jar on the circulation desk that says, “Since we eliminated overdue fines, we are requesting donations to make up the loss.”

As far as enabling people to be irresponsible, I ask this: Are we the morality police? Is there anything in your library’s mission statement or the ALA’s Library Bill of Rights that says we must teach people how to behave responsibly? (I looked – and there isn’t.)

I’m not suggesting that libraries not charge for “lost” items. Sending a notice two to three weeks after the due date for the replacement cost will ensure that most patrons will bring those materials back, stat. When the High Plains Library District in Colorado eliminated their overdue fines, they found that 95% of materials were returned within a week of their due date. (Long Overdue, Ruth Graham, 02/06/2017).

Not ready to take the plunge?

Consider a pilot program. Test it out and see what happens. Or start with eliminating fines for children and young adult materials. You could also consider charging overdue fines, but not blocking a card for owing fines. In this case, you would only block cards of patrons who have not returned materials.

What do you think? Has anyone tried it? Anyone willing?

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What do Customers Really Want??

We’re going to take a break from Linda’s Bookbag to discuss an upcoming webinar topic.

The discussion of customers and what we can do to really impress them with our service is what might be called an “evergreen” topic – it never dies!

Just when we think we have all the bells and whistles they might want in materials, programming, databases, and even technology (if that’s ever possible!), they still don’t seem to be what we might call “delighted” with our service. Why is that?

Let’s take a moment to think about what’s going on in our world. As hard as organizations work to figure out what you might like, much of that attempt has become automated by technology. Have you ever searched Google only to have something pop up that you looked at the day before? Maybe even asking if you are sure you don’t want it? It’s almost scary, isn’t it? Although I’m sure Google thought they made my day by wishing me a happy birthday last year (complete with dancing cupcakes!), it really felt almost creepy.

I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want someone looking over my shoulder and invading my space through technology when I am simply going about my business. So, from my perspective at least, I don’t think the latest and greatest in programs and/or technology is the be-all and end-all of making customers very happy with our service. Do we need dynamic, ever-changing programming? Sure. Do we need to stay up-to-date with the latest technology as much as possible? Of course.

Instead of expending all our energy in those areas, though, maybe there are other areas we can look at to see if we are really pleasing our customers as much as we think we are.

Let me give you a personal example. Some of you know that my husband passed away in March of this year after 10 years of health issues which had escalated over the past 3 years. Just before he went to the hospital for a minor surgery, I picked up a routine prescription that he would need when he got home. Sadly, he never made it home. In my frantic effort to gain some control over my life during that awful time, a few days after his death, I took the prescription back to my pharmacy – Publix. I was certain they wouldn’t be able to take it back and sure enough, the pharmacy tech informed me that wasn’t permitted through their system. She asked the pharmacist and he agreed. They were not permitted to accept the drugs back. Now…here’s where the “delight your customer” attitude comes in. The pharmacist expressed his condolences and told me they would give me full credit, even though they couldn’t accept the drugs. The other pharmacist on duty came from behind the counter to give me a hug. Wow. It was “only” $47, but $47, especially in those circumstances, can seem like a lot of money going down the drain. But they gave me that $47 back. Could they afford it? Yep. They probably do $47 in business every minute! Did they have to do that? Nope. Do you think I will ever get prescriptions through any other pharmacy if I can help it? No, I surely will not.

Okay, so that’s a pretty dramatic example of exceptional customer service. But let’s look at life through the lens of your patrons.

What “stuff” are they bringing with them when they enter your library? Personal health issues? Relationship problems? Financial problems? An argument with the teenage child? Too many obligations? A negative customer service experience with some other entity in the past 24 hours? As we all know, those kinds of experiences are all too common these days!

If you think about it, the chances of them having had an exceptionally good customer experience in the recent past – with anyone – is fairly small these days. At least that’s the way it feels to a lot of people I speak with as I travel in my work.

So, what can we do to delight our customers in our current “customer-centric” culture? That’s just what we’ll talk about in our upcoming webinar on Thursday, September 14, 2 p.m. CT. Register now!

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What’s in Linda’s Bookbag?

Those of you who’ve met me or attended any of my training sessions know that I love to learn. And of course, one of the best ways to learn (besides attending training, of course!) is to read. I don’t often have an opportunity to attend training sessions unless I’m presenting them, but I do love to read. Imagine that!

The term “personal development” sometimes gets a bad rap these days, but if you think about it, those of us who help others learn in any context are really helping with their personal development, aren’t we?

In light of that, in my PLAN blog posts, I’d like to share some of the tools that have helped me in my own personal – and professional – development.

One book that quickly comes to mind is Continue reading “What’s in Linda’s Bookbag?”

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Addressing Legislators for Library Funding


I delivered the following 3-minute address to Senator George Gainer and Representative Brad Drake at the Washington County Legislative Delegation Meeting yesterday. My purpose was to ensure ongoing funding for Florida’s Multitype Library Cooperatives. Renae Rountree, the Director of Washington County Public Libraries, and PLAN’s Board President, was also present and spoke for State Aid for Libraries funding. Speakers were allowed three minutes to address the delegates.

“Good morning Senator Gainer and Representative Drake. My name is Charles Mayberry. I am the Executive Director of the Panhandle Library Access Network (PLAN). Thank you for the opportunity to speak here today.

I’m here to thank you for your ongoing support for Florida’s five Library Cooperatives. Continue reading “Addressing Legislators for Library Funding”

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Digital Natives?

Danah Boyd in her book, It’s Complicated, discusses the misunderstanding of the term, “digital native.” Young people are adept at using technological devices but don’t understand the basics behind them. Those of us who learned to use a computer and other technology gradually have a much better understanding of how it all works.

For instance the first computer I used was DOS based. While I may have forgotten much of the command line language, I still have an understanding of file structure and basic computer functions. The millenials and those who came after them grew up in a WYSIWYG world of point and click. They seem to know intuitively which button to push (or maybe they are not afraid to try them all), but they don’t understand how it works.

For example, my daughter received a digital camera for Christmas. This device needed a firmware update which required using an SD card and a computer to transfer the required file. I learned that my fifteen-year-old doesn’t know how to copy or move a file on a computer.

As the parent of a high school student, I can testify that the schools assume students know more about technology than they actually do. It not just about the hardware and software. Students also need to learn to navigate the digital world in an informed way: determine validity of information, protect their privacy, communicate effectively using technology, etc. The schools aren’t teaching this and many parents don’t have this knowledge either. Many teachers are too intimated by this topic to cover even a small portion in their existing classes. Media specialists have become an endangered species in the high schools in my county. University libraries teach information literacy to their students.  Public libraries offer classes for adults. What about the teens and tweens?

If your library offers information literacy classes to this age group I would love to hear about your experiences. Do teens come to your library? Does your staff go out to the schools to teach about any of these topics? Librarians have a role to play in educating young people about making the best use of technology. Let’s make sure they are not neglected.

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Summer Reading Workshops

The days are getting shorter and winter is getting closer, but it is time to start thinking about next summer’s library programming!71eac357-f8c8-42be-8dd6-f5dc9c772189

The Division of Library and Information Services will be holding Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP)/Florida Library Youth Program (FLYP) workshops for the 2017 Summer Library Program. Youth services staff, media specialists, and adult services staff are invited to attend these free, all-day workshops that will be held across the state. The theme for next summer is “Build a Better World.” Dress casually and plan to be inspired!

The presenter for the youth workshops in the Panhandle is Zedra Hawkins:

  • January 6, 2017, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Central), at the Milton Public Library (5541 Alabama St. in Milton), Santa Rosa County
  • January 9, 2017, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Central), at the Calhoun County Public Library(17731 NE Pear St. in Blountstown), Calhoun County
  • January 12, 2017, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern), at the Wakulla County Public Library (4330 Crawfordville Hwy. in Crawfordville), Wakulla County

Register for a youth workshop

The presenter for the adult workshop in the Panhandle is Donna Bachowski:

Register for the adult workshop

For more information, please contact Jana Fine at or 850-245-6629.

For ADA assistance or other workshop questions, please contact Sena Heiman at or by phone at 850-245-6628, or Jana Fine at or by phone at 850-245-6629.

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