IndyPL's Commitment to Racial Equity

08/03/2021
IndyPL's Commitment to Racial Equity
IndyPL's Commitment to Racial Equity

One of the many challenges facing American institutions today is the need to acknowledge and examine histories that have resulted in the exclusion of Black, Latina/o/x, Native and Indigenous people, immigrants, the LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities, and other groups with intersectional identities. We recognize the past and share this history. We must work to undo the systems that have influenced library service models and impeded equitable service to underrepresented members of our community.


We work every day to establish trust with both staff and patrons. We want to be of service to you and know there is much more to be accomplished.


Libraries play an important role for many in the community. We at IndyPL remain committed to fostering a positive workplace for staff members and welcoming environment for patrons, volunteers, and partner organizations. While our efforts do not make up for our failures, our work to become an antiracist organization is of paramount importance. We acknowledge the work ahead needed to improve racial equity efforts within our organization by listening and by taking action to improve opportunities and outcomes.


Our 570+ dedicated staff members and board of trustees are committed to making improvements in several areas via training, strategic initiatives, and more, and look forward to sharing new and ongoing efforts. Please see some examples below of our diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) commitments.


Despite these efforts, we know that good intentions are meaningless without positive outcomes. Our staff should not experience racism and if they do, we must do a better job to acknowledge and address it. The challenges we face demonstrate our failings and room for growth. We strive to be an antiracist organization so that we can best serve our community, and we hope you will join us. As we look to the future, our staff and this library system will continue to grow and improve.


We would like to hear from our entire community so that we may continue to grow, learn, and serve.


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Some recent advancements to improve The Library:

2017
  • Created and launched the Center for Black Literature & Culture (CBLC) at Central Library
2018
  • Engaged a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion consultant for the CEO and Board
  • Created an executive-level position of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Officer to help lead system-wide efforts
2019
  • Ongoing since 2019 - All staff have been attending Racial Equity Training through IPS or Child Advocates.
  • Completed a compensation study with corresponding intersectionality assessment of race, gender, and age, resulting in a pay increase for 99% of staff and pay minimum elevation for 70% of staff
2020
  • Officially joined the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE)
  • All IndyPL staff read Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, plus facilitated group discussions and hosted a staff speaking engagement with author Jason Reynolds
  • Creation of a staff-led Equity Council
2021
  • IndyPL went “late fine free,” enhancing accessibility for those to whom late fines present a barrier to our materials.
  • Approved and implemented our strategic plan, which intentionally leads with racial equity as both an organizational value and priority initiative.

Ongoing actions and intent as a result of our commitments:

  • The CBLC continues to host robust programs for the community. An expansion of CBLC services, including a new website and interactive kiosks, will be launched in the Fall of 2021.
  • As a direct result of our commitment to GARE, IndyPL implemented a completely new approach to vendors and spending, more than doubling our minority-, women-, veteran-, and disability-owned (XBE) business vendor utilization from 2019 to 2020. As of May 2021, we have spent more with XBE vendors than non-XBE vendors (59%).
  • Every library program plan being developed for 2022 is required to utilize an adaptation of the GARE Racial Equity Toolkit.
  • Our systemwide goal for 2022 is for 75% of our public-facing programs to involve community partnership so that our programming is built on a foundation of direct community participation and feedback.
  • In 2021, IndyPL began offering Bystander Intervention training for staff.
  • All managers and executive leadership are currently participating in a three-part Unconscious Bias Training.
  • We are continuing to purchase materials for and prominently display our Racial Equity Collection prominently at all branches for staff and patrons to explore the issues of race and racial equality as a collective of engaged community members.
  • Our collection management department improved ordering processes for identifying and ordering African American and LGBTQ+ books, movies, and materials, and committed to spending 45% of IndyPL’s annual collection budget each year through 2023 on diversifying our collection.
  • To support this effort, a new position for a world language and diversity collection development librarian was created.
  • All current and future IndyPL Board of Trustees Members will voluntarily attend the same Racial Equity Training as staff.
  • We are undertaking a study to assess and address the workplace climate across the IndyPL system, as well as developing a new employee grievance reporting system.