Thursday, May 25, 2017

Inclusive Services: A Statement from the Division of Libraries & Technology

Statue of Liberty with collage of synonyms for welcome
Libraries are welcoming beacons for all
For the past year or so, I have made a few posts about inclusive services in Wisconsin public libraries. These posts include:

Inclusive library service is an evolving theory and practice. Many elements are not new; e.g., public libraries as a free and democratic institution, while other elements are more contemporary; e.g., gender identity options on library card applications. For me, my role as a statewide consultant has evolved from a focus on exceptions; e.g. services to special populations, to an emphasis on the exemplar; e.g. libraries are for everyone. 

The prominence of equity as a foundation for inclusive services is directly tied to the mission of my team and the leadership of our agency. The Public Library Development Team (PLDT) provides leadership, advocacy, assis­tance, planning, coordination, and funding for the improvement of public libraries and public library systems so that all Wisconsin residents have equitable access to information. (Italics my own.)

The Wisconsin State Library Agency is an integral part of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI). State Superintendent Tony Evers, alongside The Aspen Institute Education & Society Program and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), released Leading for Equity: Opportunities for State Education Chiefs, a series of commitments for state education agencies to consider to positively impact educational equity.
In consideration of the evolution of inclusive services and the future focus on equity in Wisconsin public schools and libraries, the Division for Libraries and Technology is proud to release a statement defining What Does It Mean to Be Inclusive?. This statement was developed by Wisconsin public library and system staff, PLDT staff, and DPI staff. It is our hope that this statement will provide direction and purpose for future efforts of Wisconsin public libraries, regional systems, and the state library agency. We expect that this statement will be a foundational component of training and resource development in the months and years ahead.

Please read, share, and discuss this statement with your staff, board, and colleagues. As the statement identifies, "Wisconsin public libraries serve everyone, and it is the duty of everyone in the service of Wisconsin public libraries to foster inclusivity."

Written by:
Tessa Michaelson Schmidt, Public Library Development Team