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Defending Diversity: The Challenges and Opportunities for DEIA Positions in Libraries (Part 1)

Feb 27, 2024





How are libraries still doing the work of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) across their systems with or without dedicated staff? This three-part series brings professionals from all levels and types of libraries together to discuss how the work of DEIA is going and ongoing considering the Supreme Court’s overturning of Affirmative Action, state budgets defunding DEIA initiatives, the disappearance of “diversity roles” after three years of prolific hiring to these strategic roles only to see resignations and firing of DEIA organizational leaders from these same roles. We’ll discuss if libraries have moved the needle towards becoming inclusive libraries and what should be the priorities for libraries going forward. Panelists will share their experiences, progress, challenges, and changes in doing the work of DEIA in their respective libraries.


Shamella Cromartie is Associate Dean for Organizational Performance and Inclusion (OPI) at Clemson University Libraries. At Clemson University Libraries, Shamella supports the success of the Clemson Libraries as an organization and its employees, focusing on organizational development and equity, diversity and inclusion. She leads the OPI division, including assessment, IT infrastructure, learning environments, strategic planning, and communications and marketing.

Nikhat Jehan Ghouse is the Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility at the University Library System of the University of Pittsburgh. Nikhat is also an Organization Development Consultant through her firm, Jehan Consulting with expertise in change management, process consulting, strategic planning, leadership development, team building, coaching and equity, diversity, & inclusion. With over 20 years of professional library experience and eight years in organization development, Nikhat used her expertise to help individuals and organizations grow and manage change. Nikhat received her Master of Science in Organization Development from American University, her MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh, and her Bachelor of Arts in History from Cleveland State University. Name pronunciation: https://namedrop.io/nikhatghouse(opens in new window)

Jerome Offord, Jr. is the Associate University Librarian (AUL) for Antiracism. Expanding upon the library’s strong record of diversity initiatives, the AUL for Antiracism collaborates extensively to develop strategies for systemic change through the library’s workforce, services, collections, and spaces. Before joining Harvard, Jerome served as the Vice President for Business and Administration at DeEtta Jones and Associates. Jerome has held senior cabinet positions at Lincoln University of Missouri, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU), over a span of eight years. Initially hired as Dean of Library Services and Archives, he was soon asked to serve as Interim Provost and Interim Chief Information Officer. He was subsequently appointed Chief of Staff to the President, and then Dean of Administration and Student Affairs.