Presenter: Dr. Tami Blumenfield, Kui Ge Scholar of Ethnology (Yunnan University) and Adjunct Research Assistant Professor (University of New Mexico)

Organization Name: School of Ethnology and Sociology, Yunnan University and Department of Anthropology, University of New Mexico

Co-Presenter: Mēgan Oliver, Head of Digital Projects, University of Missouri-Kansas City

Area of the World: South Carolina, United States

Presentation Language: English

Target Audience: Anyone interested in improving diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusiveness of their digital collections, particularly at academic libraries

Short Session Description: This presentation discusses an internship-based effort to systematically audit digital collections at an academic library for diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility, and provides ideas for implementing similar low-cost audits at other institutions.

Full Session Description:

Academic libraries have become increasingly aware of their responsibilities to ensure appropriate language and ethical practices are used as they carry out their missions of being information stewards and connecting their communities with knowledge generated over a period of centuries. Challenges facing libraries include 1) disparities in the types of information collected, archived, and digitized; 2) overrepresentation of certain worldviews and epistemes over others; 3) problematic language use; and 4) inaccessible practices (Cruz, 2019; Lazzaro et al., 2014). These challenges are particularly visible in digital collections. Although these collections can theoretically enhance access to the vast array of archival materials held by university libraries, the scanning and description processes involved can also exacerbate problems of equitable representation and inclusion.  

While these problems are well known and a cause for much concern, finding strategies for dealing with them has proven extremely difficult. Furthermore, decisionmakers may be reluctant to allocate funds and other resources to systematically review the vast array of already digitized materials.

This presentation discusses an innovative, internship-based effort that attempted to address diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion within a university digital collection in the U.S. South. The unpaid internships offered a low-cost, low-risk way to begin systematically auditing digital collections and recommend strategies for addressing shortcomings. The presenters will explain methods used to conduct the audit, discuss challenges involved with investigating an enormous amount of materials, and provide ideas for implementing similar audits of diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility at other institutions. We hope that audience members who have navigated similar situations at their institutions will also contribute their ideas and offer feedback, as we join together in working toward improving atmospheres and fostering belonging in information spaces.

Relevant Websites / URLs:

Session Recording and Slides: 

Session Recording: YouTube Recording

Slide Deck: PowerPoint File 

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