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SpringyNews - Communities Reimagined

July 2020

Using LibGuides to support racial justice & create inclusive communities

Twanna HodgeGuides can provide necessary and helpful information and resources, but the work does not stop at creating a guide. Fighting for racial justice and creating inclusive communities is a consistent, life-long journey that takes time, effort, and resources. Racism is pervasive and permeates all areas of society, including libraries. Libraries do not operate outside of society, and isms and phobias are inherent in the people who work within them and the very structures of our organizations. Lean into your discomfort. Fail forward.

Twanna Hodge
Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Librarian
University of Florida

What are resources guide owners can provide that non-BIPOC creators tend to overlook?

Resources that are overlooked or included to a lesser degree are:

  • Including your libraries definitions and examples of diversity, equity, inclusion, and racial justice
  • Evidence or examples of impactful racial justice or racial healing work, initiatives, and projects 
  • Names of individuals and organizations that are leaders, experts, and organizers to learn more about
  • Acknowledging the First People, indigenous nations, Native American land, and settler’s colonialism through a land acknowledgment,
  • Information on the sociopolitical and economic factors that have contributed to racial injustice 

As you identify resources, consider the resources that BIPOC may have access to and trust. Invite BIPOC to be contributing members, and think about the compensation, attribution (internally so that they are not harassed), and emotional labor that their participation entails.
Promoting inclusivity means inviting those most affected to be a member from the beginning.

How can guides be built to make all users welcome and promote inclusivity?

By interrogating their ability to make all users feel welcome and understanding which users have not or currently do not feel welcome that could be due to misrepresentation, underrepresentation, censorship, erasure, and more. 

Some suggestions are: 

  • Providing content wherever possible that is multilingual and translated into different dialects, patois and more 
  • Demonstrating language inclusivity -  removing outdated, offensive and obsolete terms 
  • Realizing and addressing anti-blackness 
  • Centering BIPOC and marginalized identities 
    • Listen to them, incorporate their views, and honor their identities 
  • Decentering whiteness and the privileging of Eurocentric systems of knowledge
    • Acknowledge the entrenchment and bias of whiteness, for example, read and incorporate tools from this resource: Whiteness and White Privilege by Racial Equity Tools

Inclusivity is everyone’s job. Understanding our identities and the power and privilege tied to them are crucial ongoing work that all employees need to be a part of.  

How can guides be used to start, continue, and move the conversation forward and to action?

Starting, continuing, and moving not only the conversation forward but to action needs resources, time, and effort. Your intention is necessary, but the impact is what ultimately matters. 

Some suggestions are: 

  • Acknowledging historical and intergenerational trauma caused by institutions and adopting a trauma-informed practice 
  • Including the statements and messages created about ending or eradicating racism 
  • Incorporating action-oriented steps such as building or restructuring supports for education and professional development centered on racial justice and healing that is embedded into the infrastructure that allows individuals to communities to institutions engaged in
  • Outlining how accountability is handled by using SMARTIE Goals Worksheet
  • Learning and implementing anti-racist practices 

There will be ebbs and flows, moments of great successes, uncomfortable and, at times, painful situations, resource scarcity, and abundance in pursuing racial justice and inclusion. Engaging in self-critique and self-reflection are tools necessary for moving forward to healing and equity. 

Twanna's LibGuide Examples

  • Simmons University Library's Anti-Oppression Guide is superb and a high-quality model for others. 
  • The Arizona State University Library's Black Lives Matter guide is a good example with its section of podcasts and other media.  
  • Capital City Public Charter School Black Lives Matter 2020 guide is another fantastic example of how it is organized with the categories and sections.  
  • The University of Denver Anti-racist Resources guide is an excellent guide due to their disclaimer, scope and how to use the guide clearly explains what the user can expect and get out of the guide. Also it connects to and highlights different experts internal and external that folks can contact for more information or assistance.
  • The Take Action section from California State University San Marcos Library's #BlackLivesMatter guide is a great example of the library explicitly stating their commitments and actions to take.

Putting Advice Into Action with LibGuides Tricks

We’re so thankful to Twanna for dedicating her time and expertise for this piece. This page wouldn’t be “LibGuides Tricks” without a few guide and site tricks as well! :) To that end, we rounded up a few tips to pair with her advice and resources above — specifically ones related to promoting inclusivity and making guides welcome and usable for all.

Inclusivity Tip Actionable LibGuides Trick
  Speak their language
  • In addition to adding important information and commonly asked questions in multiple languages on your guides, you can copy your existing guides and translate and replace their text.
    • LibGuides CMS sites can create new groups for each language and assign the corresponding translated guides to them, so you can easily share Spanish guides as a group and even create a Spanish header/footer.
    • Groups also have their own base language and default text options that will automatically translate the system text on public pages.
  • You may not have the staff time to manage more than two or three separately translated guides, but modern web browsers are increasingly adding translation settings. Try linking to their help documentation (here's Chrome and Microsoft Edge).
    • If you lend Macbooks or Chromebooks, consider adding a language preference question to the lending form so staff selects it in the device's settings ahead of time.
  Access for all
  • Check your guides for color contrast issues. Run your LibGuides colors through a tool like the WebAIM Color Contrast Checker.
    • WCAG 2.0 level AA requires a contrast ratio of at least 4.5: 1 for normal text and 3:1 for large text.
    • WCAG 2.0 level AAA requires a contrast ratio of 7:1 for normal text and 4.5:1 for large text.
  • Adjust Your Monitor - Turn down the contrast on your monitor and see if you can still read your LibGuides. 
  • Try a browser extension - View your website's colors through the eyes of colorblind users.
  • If you're unable to add closed captioning to your videos, create a transcript and add it to your guide below the video, using a Document asset.
  • For more, check out our Best Practices for Building Guides & Accessibility Tips training session!
  Showcase media
  • Embed audio and video that tell personal stories, share new perspectives, and help inform patrons with the Media/Widget asset. Not sure how to do this? Take a look at our Embedding Videos on Your LibGuides training video.

We hope our new spin on LibGuides Tricks has you looking at your guides in a new light with some helpful, insightful, actionable advice. And inspiration for how to effect more positive change as a librarian. Thanks for all you do for your coworkers, your patrons and students, and your community!