Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI)
Cary Library is committed to advancing inclusion, diversity, equity, and access for our community. This commitment is reflected in our Mission, Core Values, and Guiding Principles, but more importantly, it is reflected in the staff we hire, the collections we build, the programs we offer, and the services we provide.
The work of advancing racial and social equity begins with the recognition and affirmation of the dignity of individuals; those we work with and those we serve. Regardless of age, cultural background, ethnicity, family status, language, national origin, disability, race, color, religion, sex, education, sexual orientation, gender identity, health, socioeconomic, and immigration status—at Cary Library, all are welcome.
Our ability to serve our community now and in the future depends on our willingness to learn and evolve. To that end, library staff and administration have formed an IDEAS (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access, and Staffing) Team to provide structure and accountability for our DEI work. Our first IDEAS Action Plan 2022-2023 was adopted by the Library's Board of Trustees in June 2021 and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.
We cannot truly fulfill our mission without doing this work, both as a staff and in partnership with the many individuals and organizations in Lexington who are working toward equity. If you have suggestions for how to make Cary Library more equitable and inclusive we want to hear from you. You can reach our IDEAS Team by submitting your thoughts through our suggestion form.
The Cary Library staff and administration have formed an IDEAS (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access, and Staffing) Team to provide structure and accountability for the library's DEI work. The Library's Board of Trustees adopted an initial IDEAS Action Plan 2022-2023 in June 2021. There are currently five teams working on the goals outlined in this Action Plan: Accessibility, Collections, Community Collaborations, Staffing, and Institutional.
IDEAS Action Plan 2022-2023
- Conduct an accessibility audit of the library facility. Timeframe: Summer 2022
- Conduct an accessibility audit of library programming. Timeframe: In process
- Improve accessibility features of library website (new website with improved accessibility features launched in September, 2021). Timeframe: Ongoing
- Assess our ability to serve indivduals who speak languages other than English. Timeframe: In process
- Introduce Sensory Friendly Programs/Hours. Timeframe: To be determined
- Staff Training - serving individuals with disabilities (all staff training planned January 2022). Timeframe: Ongoing
- Assess and enhance the diversity of library collections. Timeframe: Ongoing
- Develop tools and practices to ensure the diversity of our collection moving forward. Timeframe: In process
- Make diversity an ongoing priority in book lists, readers' advisory, and book displays. Timeframe: Ongoing
- Update our Collection Development Policy with language specific to diversity and representation. Timeframe: Winter 2021-22
- Develop a policy/process for reconsidering materials with offensive content, including titles pulled by publishers and authors. Timeframe: In process
- Work with community partners to develop programming that meet their priorities with the goal of celebrating diversity year round. Timeframe: Ongoing
- Develop practices to ensure equity and inclusion of library programming moving forward. Timeframe: Winter 2021-22
- Establish a monthly calendar for celebrations to be honored yearly and featuring own voices speakers. Develop guidelines for programming. Timeframe: Winter 2021-22
- Review hiring process to identify ways to increase diversity (in collaboration with the Town Chief Equity Officer). Timeframe: Fall 2021
- Explore options for supporting staff who experience issues related to DEI, including process for reporting. Timeframe: Winter 2021-22
- Develop multiple internship/vocational study opportunities to build diversity in the profession.
- Partnerships with Cotting School and LABBB Collaborative for student employment skills training. Timeframe: Underway
- Develop paid internship opportunities for individuals from traditionally marginalized communities. Timeframe: Winter 2021
- Increase opportunities for staff to cross-train in other library departments. Timeframe: To be determined
- Staff Training - wide range of DEI topics including active bystander, microaggressions, anticracism. Timeframe: Ongoing
- Adopt the Urban Library Council's Statement on Race and Social Equity. Timeframe: Adopted May 5, 2021
- Develop a meaningful Land Acknowledgement and associated action items. Timeframe: In process
- Incorporate DEI activities into broader strategic planning efforts. Timeframe: Winter 2021-22
- Create section on library website to track progress of library IDEAS work. Timeframe: In process
Adopted by Library Trustees - 6.2.21, updated 11.1.21
It’s been just over a year since the Cary Library formally adopted our first IDEAS (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access, & Staffing) Action Plan 2022-2023. This plan identifies some short and long term DEI initiatives that are currently underway and is updated periodically to reflect progress.
Some highlights from the past 18 months:
- A new Cary Library website featuring better accessibility features was launched. The site includes a section about the library’s DEI efforts, including a form for suggesting improvements.
- The library hosted three banner displays, all projects created by community organizations:
- In honor of Black History Month - The Association of Black Citizens of Lexington (ABCL) Black History Portrait Banners (photo below)
- In honor of Asian American and Pacific Island Heritage Month - The Lexington Asian Pacific Islanders (AAPI) portrait banners, a collaboration of several AAPI groups in Lexington
- In honor of Women’s Equality Day - LexSeeHer Women's Visibility Banners
- In recognition of ADHD and Dyslexia Awareness months, the Library hosted the Dyslexia Parent’s Group of Lexington’s ADHD/Dyslexia Awareness displays in the Children’s Room and Teen Room which featured Lexington youth talking about their experiences with ADHD and Dyslexia.
- A permanent StoryWalk® was installed at Lincoln Park in partnership with the Recreation and Community Programs Department and the Department of Public Works with support from the Recreation and Lincoln Park Subcommittees. Stories featured in this story walk are chosen to celebrate the diversity of the Lexington community. Extension activities are designed to be as inclusive as possible of all abilities.
- Significant efforts to evaluate our collection are underway. New acquisitions, book lists, and displays are being curated with diversity as a criteria.
- Gifts from Cambridge Trust, Eastern Bank, and Enterprise Bank funded the purchase of materials related to racial and social justice as well as titles to increase the diversity of voice in our collections.
- A sensory friendly hour was added to the library’s popular Fairy Tale Ball. This project was a collaboration between the Library and the Recreation Department.
- A bilingual (English/Chinese) library card application was developed and is now in use.
- Student vocational internships were established with Cotting School and LABBB Collaborative programs.
- The Library staff were recognized as “Ally of the Year” by LexPride as part of this year’s Pride celebrations.
Activities for the months ahead:
- The library is partnering with colleagues in Conservation and the DPW to introduce a fully accessible StoryWalk® at Parker Meadow.
- We expect to conduct an accessibility audit, likely part of a town-wide process.
- A Native American Nations map is being installed on the Main Level of the library.
- This fall, we are introducing two new series of programs to cultivate awareness:
- History and culture of Native peoples
- Climate change education and adaptation