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Building Better Libraries Through Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: 2018 OCULA Spring Conference

by Catherine Fournier and Helen Tang

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are core values in librarianship … in theory, at least. But what are libraries doing, or what could libraries be doing, to better support these goals?

How can we achieve greater equity and inclusion in our hiring practices to build stronger and more diverse teams? How do we create inclusive library spaces where our diverse populations feel valued, respected, and supported? How do we build balanced collections that reflect the diversity of people and ideas in our communities? What barriers are there to achieving these goals, and how can we overcome them? These are some of the questions that will help guide our discussions during this one-day conference.


We are very pleased to welcome Professor Nadia Caidi as this year’s keynote speaker. Caidi is a Professor at the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on human information behaviour, societal implications of information and communication technologies, and information policy. One of her key research areas is diversity by design, including how institutions’ values, tools, practices and payrolls are or ought to be altered in light of the changing demographic realities.

Professor Caidi will introduce and expand on the concept of ‘diversity by design’ that she and Professor Keren Dali, Assistant Professor at the School of Library & Information Studies, University of Alberta, first wrote about in the Library Quarterly Journal (Caidi & Dali, 2017). By promoting the idea of diversity as “integral and structural,” rather than a “mere add-on” (p. 89), Caidi and Dali’s approach encourages the field of library and information studies to look beneath the surface and start, at times, uncomfortable conversation within our circles, our conferences, and in our boardrooms about the personal, social, familial, historical, and community-wide causes of diversity tensions. In so doing, they surmised that libraries, archives, and museums could well become sites of potential disruption; a worthwhile aspiration if we are serious about being truly inclusive, and about making space for other ways of knowing, learning and being in our practices, processes, values and payroll.

Lightning Talks

Our colleagues from college and university libraries will speak about the initiatives, policies, and practices in their libraries that support diversity, equity and inclusion. They will discuss everything from how they staff their libraries to library space design, library services, and collection development, as well as the challenges they are facing. These include the opening of Canada’s first academic library family study space, the importance of cultural competence for collection development, the active recruitment of diverse student employees, and the creation of a current and extensive Indigenous collection.


In addition to Professor Caidi’s keynote presentation and the lightning talks, this year’s conference will feature roundtable discussions which will engage participants in challenging and uncomfortable conversations, as well as an afternoon workshop facilitated by Sandra Carnegie-Douglas, Anti-Racism and Cultural Diversity Officer at the University of Toronto.


This year, we are excited to host this event at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) Library on the downtown campus of the University of Toronto.

We look forward to meeting you Friday, May 4, 2018 for this special one-day conference, as we explore how we can better support diversity, equity, and inclusion in college and university libraries.

Registration will remain open until April 20, 2018.

Find out more at OCULA Spring Conference.


Catherine Fournier is Management Librarian at University of Ottawa. She can be contacted at catherine.fournier [at] uottawa [dot] ca. 

Helen Tang is a Public Service Librarian, East Asian Library, at University of Toronto. She can be contacted at helent.tang [at] utoronto [dot] ca


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