Submitted by JJ Pionke, Applied Health Sciences Librarian at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Lunch Roundtable: Diversity is the Whole Package
I wasn’t sure what to expect going into the luncheon but I knew that I wanted to connect to others who were either doing diversity work or at least interested in diversity. My research revolves around disability and the closest areas that I have found for discussion of disability is under the diversity umbrella. It has been hard for me to find other MLA folk who are interested in disability or diversity work so I saw the luncheon as a prime opportunity to meet others with my same interest and passion.
The topic of diversity was somewhat popular as we were at two tables. I spotted someone I knew at one of the tables so I made a beeline for them. Our table was made up of a lovely mix of professionals with a wide variety of interests in diversity. Conversation was jovial and warm in the kind of way when like-minded individuals come together for a rousing discussion of a much loved topic.
Discussion ranged all over the place including talking about the use of cultural competencies, microaggression training, the integration of diversity into our everyday lives (work and otherwise), diversity as a fad/interest of the month by administrations, recruitment and how to retain diverse individuals, positive things that are going on at our institutions, and we shared out resources. I mentioned my disability LibGuides: http://guides.library.illinois.edu/alacwgdisabilitytoc, Project ENABLE which is a training program around disability out of Syracuse: https://projectenable.syr.edu/, and the Targeting Autism forum: https://targetingautismlibs.com/about/.
We also ended with a call to action. One of the concerns we had about MLA was that there seems to be less diversity presentations/posters/discussions. We decided to send letters to the MLA president pointing out this issue (some Special Interest Groups haven’t had a single panel in two years) and asking for a review of procedures to be more inclusive of all interests.
I would like to thank MW/MLA for the “Free Lunch” award. As a still relatively new professional in the field, being able to meet with others and discuss the topic of diversity was invaluable. I came away invigorated by the discussion and fired up to talk about diversity with colleagues. I also feel like I made new friends.