After an extensive literature review and conversation with colleagues, we crafted this space as a first step towards discussing our collections through a social justice and antiracist lens. After a review of existing methodologies for assessing academic library collections for ethnic and racial diversity, it became clear that those methodologies and any we could imagine were problematic for different reasons. Additionally, they are likely unnecessary, since it is already clear that our collections are dominated by white voices. Instead, we feel a necessary first step is to acknowledge the root causes for the lack of diversity in the academic publishing world and focus on building more inclusive practices for building collections. This requires an active effort to identify the often unseen forces of Whiteness and the ways in which our white-dominant culture stifles diversity in our collections.
We recognize that creating a truly just collection will require dismantling the white supremacy built into the scholarly knowledge ecosystem which include libraries, academic institutions, and publishing. While libraries cannot single-handedly change this system, we can stop upholding and reinforcing it. To this end we have tried to identify the ways collections are both shaped by and contribute to a White Institutional Presence, and create reflective questions that suggest how we move forward with building collections that contribute to a positive campus learning environment for all. We recognize that building an inclusive and just collection requires reflection on how, by whom, and for whom, collections are built. With the creation of this space, it is our hope to spark conversation and to collectively move closer to our commitment to diversity and inclusive excellence.