LITS is praised for excellence in access and diversity

Mount Holyoke College has received the 2024 Library Excellence in Access and Diversity (LEAD) Award from Insight Into Diversity magazine.

Mount Holyoke College received the 2024 Library Excellence in Access and Diversity (LEAD) Award from Insight Into Diversity magazine. This award honors academic libraries’ programs and initiatives that encourage and support diversity, equity and inclusion across their campuses. These efforts include, but are not limited to, research, technology, accessibility, exhibitions and community outreach. Mount Holyoke College, along with 55 other recipients, will be featured in the March 2024 issue of Insight Into Diversity magazine.

“Being honored with this award in its inaugural year is a distinct honor on behalf of the entire LITS team,” said Alex Wirth-Cauchon, chief information officer and executive director of Library, Information, and Technology Services. “As a learning community committed to purposeful engagement in the world, our staff continually examine and confront our own individual biases and historic and continued systemic racism within our professions, and we are committed to effect meaningful change that addresses racism through frequent, consistent, equitable choices and actions. We are continually reshaping the Williston Memorial Library and ensuring that its physical and virtual resources are more accessible and inclusive.”

Insight Into Diversity magazine selected LITS at Mount Holyoke College for its effort within the Five College Consortium to largely eliminate fines and other circulation penalties, given their disproportionate impact on first-generation and Black, Indigenous and people of color patrons. The magazine also highlighted the partnership between LITS and Mount Holyoke’s First Generation Network, as well as the Division of Student Life, to design and implement a semester-long laptop lending program as part of the College’s Student Safety Net Fund. Each semester, more than 25 students receive a LITS-issued laptop as part of this effort. Additionally, they have the opportunity to borrow laptops throughout the summer months, reducing barriers to participation in College-supported internships and research opportunities with faculty.

The magazine also noted LITS’ annual presentation of a variety of displays, including those dedicated to Black History Month and Transgender Day of Visibility. The Access Services library fellow, a student position, routinely supports these efforts and creates a virtual companion to the physical displays of books. Additionally, LITS recently co-sponsored a Teach Banned Books event with the College’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the Zinn Education Project. “Teach Truth: A Protest Against Anti-History Education Bills” was a part of a nationwide day of action in defense of banned books and the right to teach and learn history.

LITS has also partnered with the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in implementing Mount Holyoke College’s pronouns policy and chosen name policy. The goal of these policies was to create a single point of change where a community member could enter their information, subsequently disseminating it across numerous systems that work behind the scenes to keep the College running — from professors’ roster sheets to library cards to the health care center.

“We know that many academic libraries are not always recognized for their dedication to diversity, inclusion and access,” said Lenore Pearlstein, owner and publisher of Insight Into Diversity magazine. “We are proud to honor these college and university libraries as role models for other institutions of higher education.”

The call for nominations for this award was announced in October 2023.

For more information about the 2024 Library Excellence in Access and Diversity (LEAD) Award, visit insightintodiversity.com.

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