Biblio-Equity in Action: Advancing Collection Development for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

By Gali Halevi, MLS, PhD
Collection Director at CLOCKSS

As someone deeply immersed in the world of library collections, I've come to recognize the significance of ensuring that our collections, archives, and repositories reflect the rich tapestry of global scholarship and diverse communities. In striving to build library and archival collections that are truly inclusive and equitable, the convergence of "biblio-equity" and collection development takes center stage. Biblio-equity embodies the ideals of fairness, justice, and equal access to library resources. Meanwhile, within the realm of collection development, it encompasses strategic efforts to acquire, organize, and maintain materials that reflect a diverse array of languages, cultures, background, and regions.

Gali Halevi, MLS, PhD
Gali Halevi, MLS, PhD

To establish collection development strategies that amplify historically marginalized voices and scholarship, it is crucial to first acknowledge the long-standing inequities embedded within scholarly collections and coverage. Historically, Black, Indigenous, People of Color, LGBTQIA+, disabled, and neurologically diverse communities have been systematically excluded and marginalized, resulting in their voices and experiences being underrepresented in collections. Furthermore, particularly in English-speaking countries, there exists a historical trend of predominantly acquiring and preserving resources originating from developed nations, with minimal consideration given to scientific output from diverse and developing non-English-speaking countries.

One practical approach to amend these trends moving forward is to deliberately prioritize materials from underrepresented community-led publishers and not solely rely on mainstream content providers. This includes acquiring a diverse range of materials such as monographs, fiction, serials, and audiovisual media that are produced by and give voice to these communities. Additionally, actively involving members of these communities, including BIPOC, LGBTQ+, disabled, and neurologically diverse faculty and students, in the selection and deselection processes would significantly contribute to this goal. By considering these communities as major stakeholders, we can collaborate to expand collections that better reflect diverse perspectives and scholarship.

Moreover, traditional models of collection development that rely on market-based metrics like circulation statistics are insufficient for building inclusive collections. Instead, we must adopt a values-driven approach that challenges the current scholarly "Western canons." This requires a critical examination and reconfiguration of acquisition and description processes to ensure equitable representation.

Including materials such as books, journals, conference proceedings and other scientific output from around the world is of paramount importance as it ensures that a diverse range of perspectives, knowledge, and discoveries are accessible to researchers, scholars, and the public. Deep-seated expertise and insights exist in various scientific areas across different regions, and it is crucial that research and discoveries from these regions are not only acknowledged but also readily available for exploration and dissemination. For instance, in the field of infectious diseases, regions such as Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America have made significant contributions to our understanding of disease transmission, epidemiology, and treatment strategies. Likewise, in agriculture, practices and innovations developed in countries with diverse climates and agricultural systems offer valuable lessons and solutions for addressing global food security challenges. By including materials from around the world in our collections, we not only enrich the scholarly discourse but also foster a more inclusive and collaborative approach to advancing knowledge and addressing pressing global issues.

Biblio-equity involves actively seeking materials from non-English-speaking countries and diverse cultural and underrepresented communities through partnerships with international and local publishers and distributors, utilizing digital platforms for remote access, and prioritizing their acquisitions. Engagement with global and local networks and consortia will enable leveraging collective resources and expertise for efficient acquisition and sharing of materials worldwide.

Integrating diversity considerations into collection development policies ensures representation of varied perspectives and experiences. Through these concerted efforts, we can cultivate collections that reflect the global and local landscape of knowledge and scholarship.

At CLOCKSS, we're not just preserving scholarly works; we're championing diversity and inclusivity in the world of academic publishing. By engaging with global networks and supporting open access initiatives, we're playing a pivotal role in promoting the dissemination of diverse scholarship. With each step we take towards a more equitable approach to collection development, we're advancing the values of inclusivity, accessibility, and representation in the scholarly landscape.

In my role, I will actively engage in this crucial endeavor, leveraging my expertise and experience to uphold our commitment to safeguarding a multitude of diverse communities, regions, and languages. Through close collaboration with our global partners, I aim to sustain our efforts in preserving cultural richness and inclusivity across the globe.

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