Recent actions by the new administration in Washington have produced exceptional levels of uncertainty, as new executive orders begin shaping national policy. A resulting sense of disarray felt by many has moved numerous organizations to pause and reflect on their missions and roles in society.
I was moved by the recent messages to the Ohio State community from President Dr. Michael V. Drake , who said, in part:
“I want to affirm the university’s unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion and the value that members of the international community continue to bring to our pursuit and sharing of knowledge. We will honor our obligation to create an environment that inspires discovery and knowledge, values and celebrates diverse opinions and is welcoming to all — now and for generations to follow.
I want to make clear that we are steadfast in our commitment to academic freedom, the rights and well-being of all members of our university community and our resolute support of artistic expression and scientific exploration.
At our core, that is who we are and how we make a difference.”
See President Drake’s full statement here.
So what about libraries? And in particular, what about the Ohio State University Libraries?
Many of our professional organizations have worked to help frame the conversation. The American Library Association (ALA) reminded members that its “core values include access to information; confidentiality/privacy; democracy; equity, diversity and inclusion; intellectual freedom; and social responsibility.”
The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the Association of American University Presses (AAUP) issued a statement this past week reiterating that, “as social institutions, research libraries, archives, and university presses strive to be welcoming havens for all members of our communities and work hard to be inclusive in our hiring, collections, books and publications, services, and environments.”
A little closer to home, the words “Open to All” are engraved over the doors of the main branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, perhaps the clearest, best description of the ethos of library service.
We, at the Ohio State University Libraries, are deep into the process of shaping a new vision and articulation of our strategic intent that will guide the organization into the future. But just as important will be the reaffirmation and ongoing expression of our shared values — the bedrock supporting our work and how we treat others while doing it. Those values include commitments to advancing equity, diversity, inclusivity, and fairness in our collections, services, scholarship, and in how we treat people.
Our libraries are open to all and offer diverse collections that represent the full range of ideas, philosophies, and positions. Anyone entering our facilities should expect to use the Libraries without fear of disruption or confrontation. Our libraries are open to all.
Damon E. Jaggars
Vice Provost and Director of University Libraries
If you find yourself being made ill at ease by the actions of others — or see someone else in such a situation — please report it immediately to the Thompson Library West Security Desk, 614-292-3279. You can also contact the Libraries’ security staff directly (Brent Lewis, Security Manager, 614-292-5069, 614-271-0652, mobile, or David Holbrook, Building Resource Specialist, 614-292-1158), or call the Libraries’ Director’s office, 614-292-4241.
Also, don’t forget the many resources available to the university community through the Office of International Affairs, Office of Student Life’s Counseling and Consultation Service and Student Advocacy Center.