Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives
Simmons SLIS recognizes that the land on which we work and study is the rightful heritage of peoples known, including the Massachusett, Pawtucket, Pocumtuc and Nipmuck peoples, as well as peoples unknown to us. We gratefully respect not only their attachment and claim to the land, but the centuries of stewardship which allows us and our institution to prosper here. As grateful, but uninvited guests on this land, we will continue to work to be accountable to the needs of Native American and Indigenous peoples.
SLIS actively encourages students of underrepresented racial, ethnic, and language backgrounds to apply. As of Winter 2023, our students self-reported as 0% American Indian or Alaska Native, 2.1% Asian/Asian American, 2.3% Black/African American,6.1% Hispanic/Latinx of any race, 0% Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, 3.1% two or more races, 7.8% undisclosed, 77.9% White of any ethnicity. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are major facets of the 2022-2025 Strategic Planning Framework for SLIS. Also, Simmons University’s Office of Organizational Culture, Inclusion & Equity (OCIE) is dedicated to developing our inclusive excellence University-wide.
Graduate Student Fellowship
In 2016, in response to student activism and the work of the SLIS Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, a new fellowship was established with a focus on diversity. The Dean's Fellow for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives assists in planning activities and events related to diversity, social justice, and inclusion. The Fellow's responsibilities include attending the monthly SLIS student leader meetings and the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA, formerly DEI) committee meetings, maintaining and updating the SLIS webpage on Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives, identifying, advertising, and promoting workshops, lectures on related topics to the SLIS community, and gathering and creating resources and reading lists on diversity, social justice, and inclusion in LIS.
The Dean's Fellow also functions as an advocate on behalf of marginalized students' needs in discussions relating to campus climate, curriculum, and response to current events, and can be reached at [email protected].
The IDEA committee is tasked with spearheading various DEI and Accessibility initiatives and working with faculty and faculty committees to implement these initiatives at SLIS. This school-wide committee is composed of faculty members, librarians, and the Dean’s Fellow for DEI Initiatives. The committee works toward making SLIS a more inclusive, equitable, and welcoming school by contributing to the advancement of the school’s strategic IDEA priorities and aligning its work with the Simmons Office of Organizational Culture, Inclusion, and Equity. Some examples of the current IDEA Committee’s projects are the MLIS curriculum DEI audit, course design accessibility audit, and developing and facilitating DEI discussions among faculty members.
- Presentations on Design Justice and Equitable Technology Services and Policies in Public Libraries
- Listening Sessions
- Core Course Study Sessions with a focus on neurodivergent learning methods
- Self-Defense & Bystander Intervention Workshops in coordination with Impact Boston
- Group Leader in Women's March for America
- DERAIL (Diversity, Equity, Race, Accessibility, and Identity in LIS) Forums
- Guide to Changing Your Name (both on campus and legally in Massachusetts)
- Equity & Inclusion Resource/Readings list for SLIS faculty
- Office of Organizational Culture, Inclusion & Equity
- Report a Potential Incident of Bias, Microaggressions, or Prejudice to OCIE
- The Collective: Simmons Student Affinity Organizations
- Black Excellence in LIS Syllabus [external document]
Increasing Diversity in the Student Population
Since the inception of the ALA Spectrum Initiative Scholarship program sponsored by the American Library Association, Simmons has successfully recruited over forty scholars, one of the highest numbers among LIS programs. Past Spectrum Scholars have been active in promoting the Spectrum program by holding annual fundraisers.
We take pride in the contributions of these students as active leaders on campus and in the profession. Simmons University may match the $6,500 Spectrum award. Note: Scholarship restrictions may apply including, but not limited to, maximum award limits and baseline performance metrics.
In the last ten award cycles, the following Simmons students were awarded Spectrum Scholarships:
- 2022-2023: Caitlin Abadir-Mullally (Rainbow Round Table Scholar), Marian Toledo Candelaria, Janin Escobedo-Garcia, John Garcia (ProQuest Scholar), 2021-2022: Zahra Garrett, Kathryn Kuppens, Berenice Sylverain
- 2020-2021: Dymond Bush, Charlotte Cotter, Arianna McQuillen (LITA/OCLC Scholar)
- 2019-2020: Jossel Kay Franco, Nix Mendy, Sarah Yasuda
- 2018-2019: Moonyung Kang-Larsen, Cristian Alejandro Martinez (YALSA Scholar), Daisy Crystal Muralles, Elise Riley, Mallory Elizabeth Walker
- 2017-2018: Maya H. Bergamasco, Sandra R. Delaney, Rebecca L. Gordon (Inspire AASL Scholar), and Sony Prosper (Calloway Scholar)
- 2016-2017: Marcela Aristizabal, Meia Geddes, Nancy Loi, Arielle Petrovich, and Ayoola White (ProQuest Scholar)
- 2015-2016: Priya Charry, N. Suzana Chilaka, Joyce Gabiola, Hannah Mills, and Sara Powell
- 2014-2015: Dhyana Berry and Darren Young
- 2013-2014: Anastasia Green, Micha Broadnax, Ashley Dean, and Andrea Devlin.
In 2022, the Simmons University Library and the School of Library and Information Science initiated the Library Fellows program. With a mentorship model, this program is designed to prepare a diverse group of candidates with different perspectives and experiences for careers in libraries and archives. The Fellows enjoy various opportunities to explore their professional and academic interests, strengthen their skills, develop an understanding of professional standards and ethics in practice, and benefit from networking and career preparation opportunities while building their profiles. Additionally, the Fellows can demonstrate their cumulative learning and potential through a capstone project.
In its first year, the following students were awarded the SLIS Library Fellowship:
- Aijaeh Hennessey - Collections & Access (Simmons University Library)
- Zoe Johnson - Archives & Digital Initiatives (Simmons University Library)
- Jasmine Vandermark - Curriculum & Research (Simmons University Library)
- Amanda Zhang - Graduate Collections Assistant (Loyola-Notre Dame University)
Faculty Projects & Research
In 2020 Dr. Rebecca Davis was awarded a 3-year IMLS grant to support research into the experiences of Black and African-American students in academic libraries. Her findings will provide academic librarians with practical support in designing and implementing welcoming spaces and services.
In 2022 Dr. Danielle Maurici-Pollock joined the IMLS-grant funded project Improving Digital Inclusion and Broadband Infrastructure in Native Communities. Conducted in partnership with the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries and Museums (ATALM) and in conjunction with five tribal libraries, the research in service to practice seeks to address a gap in the library and information science literature by pursuing the following research question: Guided by Indigenous ways of knowing about technology and an affirmation of tribal sovereignty, how can a participatory community informatics approach address the digital inclusion needs and aspirations of tribal libraries?
Dr. Rachel Williams conducts ongoing research into the ways in which public libraries support patrons in crisis. She has collaborated with Dr. Lydia Ogden in the School of Social Work (SSW) to better understand the experiences of librarians who provide such services as well as the skills they need, and is currently working with Dr. Catherine Dumas of SLIS to explore how virtual reality tools can be used to train these librarians.
Drs. Davis and Maurici-Pollock are also investigating the experiences of first-generation graduate students to better understand how libraries and graduate programs can best serve them.
Past projects "Cultural Competence, Collaboration, and Courage: Understanding and Overcoming Institutional Racism,” a grant-funded collaborative program coordinated by Dr. Lisa Hussey, Dr. Em Claire Knowles, both from SLIS, and Dr. Johnnie Hamilton-Mason of SSW. This project provided training for the entire Simmons community to raise awareness about diversity and inclusion and resulted in, among other things, an anti-racism study group, speaker and dinner events, and several presentations to faculty, alumni, and students. Dr. Janet Ceja oversaw Eastorias, a community-engaged project that seeks to document the effects of gentrification and urban renewal on Latino communities in East Boston.
Student Affinity/Social Justice Organizations
Students have initiated a focus on social justice and inclusive representation through various student groups.
Students of Color at SLIS
Students of Color at SLIS (SoCS) was founded in the Fall of 2015 in response to a call for a greater sense of community amongst graduate students of color at the Simmons School of Library and Information Science. The purpose of the SoCS is to build and sustain a supportive community for graduate students of color that contributes to their academic development, social growth, and well-being.
- Moonlight (2016 film) Showing
- REFORMA Northeast Chapter Meeting with SoCS: REFORMA is the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking
Spectra is the student LGBTQIA+ group and its purpose is to bring together individuals who share an interest in issues that surround the LGBTQ community in the profession of Library Science. Spectra also offers a safe place for students to discuss issues that they face in the profession. Spectra's goal is to promote discussion of the issues the LGBTQIA+ community faces with allies to foster discussion and promote change within the field of Library and Information Science.
- Career Panel of Trans, Gender, Queer, and Nonbinary (TGNC) and Queer LIS professionals
- Movie Nights
- BYOBook & Craft Night
Progressive Librarians Guild
The SLIS chapter of the Progressive Librarians Guild is a non-sectarian group committed to the ideals of progressive librarianship, and the notion that a fundamental role of libraries is to promote the free exchange of ideas and information for all people. We believe that libraries are essential to maintaining an independent and democratic society.
Email [email protected] for more information
Examples of Past Events
- Book Challenges and Censorship Discussion Panel with Public, School, and Academic Librarians
- Supporting Patrons in Crisis: Leveraging Social Work Approaches to Empower Public Librarians, talk by Professor Rachel D. Williams
- Prison Book Program
- Movie Nights
Diversity and Inclusion-related Courses Offered at SLIS
While SLIS is committed to integrating attention to EDI throughout the curriculum, the following courses are either experimental courses related to the topics of diversity and inclusion or are part of the curriculum. Efforts are underway to cover these topics in the required courses.
- LIS 422: Literacy & Services to Underserved Populations: Issues & Responses
This course provides an overview of the social, economic, and political impact of adult functional illiteracy in the United States; it discusses the issue at both the federal and state level with implications for library involvement at the community level.
- LIS 410: Information Services for Diverse Users
This course examines the special needs and potential contributions of groups that are traditionally underrepresented in information settings. Through readings, discussion, and guest lectures, students will explore diversity issues that impact information services and develop skills for planning, implementing, and evaluating programs for addressing these issues.
- SLIS offers Special Topics Courses to address current events, including Decentering Whiteness in LIS and Intersectionality, Technology, and the Information Professions.
Background of Diversity Initiatives at SLIS
From 2015-2017, the SLIS Diversity and Inclusion Task Force worked to develop recommendations to then-Dean Eileen Abels on increasing access to all SLIS resources, devising methods to gather timely feedback on issues of inclusion and student well-being, and researching best practices on faculty and staff development around diversity and inclusion. The Task Force was a point of connection between students and the Dean, and disbanded at the end of the 2016-2017 academic year once the immediate needs had been addressed and OCIE was created to address Diversity and Inclusion at the University-level. The Task Force concluded with the following reports:
University-wide, the Office of Organizational Culture, Inclusion, and Equity (OCIE) vision statement guides us to become the most inclusive and welcoming academic community in New England. Rooted in the President's nine strategic goals, OCIE offers a vast array of services, as well as educational and social events, programs, and resources that aim to engage, support, empower, and celebrate students, staff, and faculty of color and those of marginalized and underrepresented backgrounds. In Summer 2022, OCIE instituted the Inclusion & Belonging Restoration Protocol which establishes a procedure for reporting a potential incident of bias, microaggressions, or prejudice, establishes a restorative process that may be utilized to facilitate healing and growth, and offers a pathway for engaging members of our community in conversations about our shared responsibilities for mutual respect, inclusivity, and the elimination of unwelcome bias, microaggressions, and prejudice in our daily interactions. For more information about this protocol and to make a report, please visit the OCIE webpage.
In 2020, President Wooten established the President’s Advisory Council on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as a key component of the Office of Organizational Culture, Inclusion, and Equity. Presidential Advisers on Diversity were tasked to recommend a new set of initiatives and actions to engage our whole community in the fight against systemic racism and social injustice.