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NYU Libraries is a 2024 Library Excellence in Access and Diversity (LEAD) Award Recipient

by NYU Libraries Communications on 2024-01-18T16:07:00-05:00 | 0 Comments

Insight into Diversity Library Excellence in Access and DiversityInsight Into Diversity magazine, the largest and oldest diversity and inclusion publication in higher education, recognized NYU Libraries with a Library Excellence in Access and Diversity (LEAD) Award. The LEAD Award honors academic libraries’ programs and initiatives that encourage and support DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) across their campus. These include, but are not limited to research, technology, accessibility, exhibitions, and community outreach. 

The NYU Libraries’ primary strategic priority since 2019 has been our commitment to IDBEA (inclusion, diversity, belonging, equity, and accessibility). We aim to increase diversity and equity within our own ranks, as well as to improve the sense of inclusion and belonging among NYU’s students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members. 

Our IDBEA work at the Libraries is guided by our IDBEA Steering Committee, a standing committee comprised of members from across the Division of Libraries that engages faculty, staff, students, and users in efforts to foster an environment within the Libraries that affirms and respects the diversity in our community, and to create a more inclusive, diverse, accessible, and equitable Division of Libraries. The committee supports many working groups and facilitates communication on inclusion, diversity, belonging, equity, and accessibility issues. The committee also partners with leadership throughout the Libraries to monitor progress in advancing a diverse, inclusive culture of equity and belonging.

This work has taken many shapes, including events and exhibits focused on underrepresented groups; the development of inclusive metadata practices; the deployment of increased resources to the acquisition, publishing, and preservation of materials created by marginalized groups; and a transformation of our hiring and advancement practices. As one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, we have aimed to reflect that in the diversity of our workforce and lead when compared to the diversity percentages of our peer institutions. We are committed to recruiting a more diverse workforce, retaining our faculty and staff from diverse backgrounds, and creating an environment in which those faculty and staff can flourish and advance.

At NYU Libraries, our faculty are engaged and robust researchers themselves with vast and diverse backgrounds and research interests—we also support the research of NYU teaching faculty at large. Support for research related to diversity, equity, and inclusion comes in the form of collection development, the promotion and preservation of DEI related materials, the recruitment and hiring of faculty librarians from diverse backgrounds with expertise in these areas, programming that focuses on DEI related research and authors, and collaboration with other research libraries to provide access to a wide array of diverse resources that are needed for research in these areas. In addition, our teaching librarians often collaborate with professors directly on the formation of assignments, syllabi, and class discussions in an effort to focus these important pedagogical structures on DEI. 

The cluster hire initiative at NYU Libraries specifically supports new hires who have research experience and interests in DEI related topics. This effort has already led to the recruitment of professionals from diverse backgrounds at the Libraries with DEI research expertise. Within the clusters, hires can find support for their research, as well as adjusting to a new work environment, in some cases moving to a new geographic area, and the tenure and promotion process among many other forms of support. The Center for Faculty Advancement at NYU also provides monetary support to faculty cluster hires so that they can continue their DEI focused research. 

Our collections and preservation efforts explicitly focus on material created by underrepresented creators. As a result, we have increased the collection of commercially available films by indigenous filmmakers, continue to maintain a vast array of LGBTQ+ centered materials through our Downtown Collection, and maintain the South Asian Born Digital NGO Reports Project. Our collections work is amplified by the work of our global network libraries (NYU Abu Dhabi & NYU Shanghai, among over a dozen other global sites), which also hold unique materials and represent diverse perspectives in exhibits and programming. 

To support greater accessibility, many of our digitized collections provide accessibility features such as captioning, transcription, and alternative text for images. If the material is in need of remediation, we have workflows that allow for us to update the content according to the user’s needs. The libraries offer specialized computer labs with adaptive technology installed for student use. To improve accessibility in our physical spaces, we have contracted with an outside expert on physical spaces to ensure accessibility (wheelchair ramps, elevators, furniture, etc.). When floors are renovated, accessibility is reviewed by a licensed architect. We also have a dedicated librarian to support accessibility and accommodations at NYU Libraries.

We aspire to engage external communities with the Division of Libraries through programmatic opportunities that emphasize wellness, anti-racism, and restorative justice. These programs include special events and workshops, exhibitions, collaborative partnerships, internships and mentorships, and contemplative spaces that create opportunities for expression, connection, contemplation, and celebration, while demonstrating the benefits and potential of partnerships within the Libraries, across the University, and beyond NYU’s campuses.

To support affordability initiatives at the University, the Libraries has highlighted course materials available in the Libraries’ ebook collection in our course reserve system and University Bookstore’s online store. 

As a LEAD Award recipient, NYU Libraries will be featured in the upcoming March 2024 issue of Insight Into Diversity magazine. For more information about the 2024 Library Excellence in Access and Diversity (LEAD) Award, visit

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