Bringing DEI Into Focus: Barrie Public Library

Ongoing efforts to increase diversity and inclusion within Canada’s public sector continue—the library industry included. By prioritizing inclusivity and working to reflect the demographics of their communities, libraries have the potential to drive equitable change.

One recent survey revealed the ability to foster equity, diversity and inclusion is one of the top three skills necessary for library directors in 2020, up from 2019. Karim Boughida, Dean of University Libraries at the University of Rhode Island, expresses the importance of consulting experts to develop these skills and meaningful strategies to address systematic DEI issues.

Fostering an inclusive environment

Passionate about collaboration, inclusion, and diversity and always seeking opportunities to cooperate and build connections, Barrie Public Library reached out to Learning Snippets for guidance in this realm.

Aware of the gaps and challenges within the library industry, Barrie Public Library was eager to change the status quo. Their ultimate goal was to ensure their staff are well-equipped to support their colleagues and community, in turn continuing to foster an inclusive environment welcoming to all members of the community.

Facing challenges

In their pursuit to achieve improved diversity and inclusion, Barrie Public Library was faced with three main challenges:

Partnering for change

Partnering with Making Change, a not-for-profit organization, whose goal is to spark broad community interest and foster conversations around inclusion and diversity, and Camille Dundas, a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant, Barrie Public Library started their DEI journey. Participating in executive and all-staff custom training sessions, Dundas offered a historical perspective of the industry, highlighting ways libraries have upheld systematic oppression. Moving from reflection to action, she then provided tools to help employees create more equitable libraries, engage in allyship, address microaggressions and avoid bias in the hiring process.

“It is crucial that library staff remain committed to both learning and unlearning; our responsibility is to our diverse community, which includes remaining active in developing equitable and inclusive spaces for both staff and patrons alike,” Maria Romano, Community Librarian and Learning Snippets participant.

As a follow-up, Making Change also offered Learning Snippets, allowing participants to put what they learned into action through helpful scenario-based questions.

Learning Snippets

Dialectic’s DEI-focused microlearning platform, Learning Snippets, helps build inclusive behaviours and offers a variety of courses to suit DEI training needs. The sole purpose of the scenario-based approach to learning is to drive real behaviour change. Having key takeaways from Dundas, employees were able to practice what they learned through consecutive programs:

Inclusivity 101
Anti-Black Racism

Rethinking biases through reflection

For those that participated in the training sessions, what was the experience like?

Participants from Barrie Public Library reported having an excellent user experience. They found the scenarios engaging, interesting and looked forward to seeing new Snippets in their inbox. After the training, many reported feeling ready and motivated to participate in inclusive behaviours.

“It’s made me think a lot more about internal bias and I’m trying to reckon with this as much as possible,” says an anonymous participant.

Most participants say that Learning Snippets made them think about DEI in a different way while increasing their confidence about handling DEI situations.

“The learning Snippets have made me think twice about my own wording when joking around. I actually had an encounter with someone and I had offended them but I didn’t realize I had said something that was hurtful to that person. I apologized and then we discussed the encounter further,” says another anonymous participant.

Results and lessons learned

Once the training session was complete, employees began using the tools in their day -to-day. They had an increased desire to learn and felt ready to champion inclusivity in the workplace.

Learning Snippets also helped to boost these individuals’ awareness of anti-Black racism and provided them with actionable insights to help them shift to being more ready and motivated to begin their inclusion journey.

“The program has addressed nuanced, intersectional situations that many individuals may not have considered previously,” shares Romano. “The small, case-study format makes the training accessible and easy to discuss at meetings amongst colleagues. I found this feature to be the most impactful in that they inspired discussion without feeling overwhelming.”

Other notable survey metrics

"Learning Snippets have created the opportunity for conversation around matters of inclusivity, which has dovetailed nicely with other training the organization has implemented around vulnerable populations using our space. I love that the situations are so real-life that I can absolutely imagine them taking place in our workplace, and that there is a really rich learning experience available, regardless of the answer you choose,” Jane Little, HR Manager.


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