Rod Library recognizes diversity as the broad range of experiences and backgrounds our community brings together to create a rich learning environment. We support the university’s vision of celebrating individuality while creating an inclusive community. Our goal is to empower all users to learn and grow together in a welcoming and safe climate. As Diversity Library Assistant Cindy Bancroft says, “Libraries are a place where communities can come together and people can meet and you can have those discussions and have that learning. It’s a neutral space. We serve everyone, and everyone is welcome.” Within the current school year alone, many exciting steps have been taken to help create and support diversity initiatives that will make the University of Northern Iowa and Rod Library a welcoming, inclusive environment for all people.
Rod Library has expanded our assistive technologies to enhance information access. The Assistive Technology Area on the main floor of Rod Library offers computers with OpenBook text-to-speech scanner and reader and Merlin CCTV for text and object magnification. Study room 315 is also available for student use and includes a desktop computer, ZoomText screen magnifier/reader with speech, ZoomText keyboard, Transformer HD CCTV, 55-inch monitor, webcam, and motorized, height-adjustable table. Additionally, all computers in the Rod Library Learning Commons are equipped with Read & Write Gold toolbar to provide word prediction, advanced spell checking, and dictionary functions. These computers also offer access to JAWS screen reading software and ZoomText screen magnifier.
In addition to creating new initiatives to expand diversity within the library, Rod Library is committed to supporting diversity initiatives as a part of the larger campus community. Interactive displays around the library encourage students, faculty, and staff to engage with Rod Library and the University of Northern Iowa to learn more about issues surrounding diversity that affect our campus community and beyond. Displays on Hispanic Heritage Month, LGBTQ Rights History Month, The Race Card Project, and White Rage highlight speakers and events happening around campus and increase learning and awareness about these important issues.
Not only does Rod Library work to educate students about diversity issues, but we are also working to help our own faculty and staff better understand this important issue as well. The day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day is known as the “Day of Racial Healing” across America. On this day, Rod Library faculty and staff participated in discussions about how to support diverse co-workers and heal the wounds created by conscious and unconscious biases.
Finally, Rod Library has recently purchased DVDs and e-books with the help of the Student Technology Fund. Rod Library continues to acquire works by and about diverse people and to select resources that encourage individuals to explore numerous viewpoints.
Rod Library has many exciting plans for diversity initiatives in the coming months that include partnering with many departments across campus.
On Thursday, February 22, over 800 first-grade students will visit Rod Library as part of UNI’s 12th annual African American Read-In. First-graders will have the opportunity to learn from award-winning author and illustrator Done Tate and to hear stories told by storyteller-author Dr. Tiffany Flowers. Library staff, faculty, and student workers will be coordinating sessions highlighting African American children’s literature, exploring Adinkra Symbols, and sharing the work of African American composers and musicians. The Read-In is part of a national event sponsored by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and NCTE and endorsed by the International Literacy Association. UNI’s African American Read-In is connected to the annual African American Children and Families Conference; more information is available here.
Rod Library’s Digital Scholarship and Cataloging and Metadata units have been working to create a digital collection of women’s suffragette postcards, celebrating their use in the fight for women’s right to vote. This collection has been assembled by Catherine Palczewski, professor in the Department of Communication Studies, over the course of 15 years, and it is now accessible to the public through Scholarworks.