Fant Library

COLUMBUS, Miss.--The cooperation and teamwork inspires Amanda Clay Powers.

As dean of library services at Mississippi University for Women’s Fant Memorial Library, Powers knows how hard the library faculty and staff have worked to create community values and an internal mission that make The W a more inclusive and accessible institution.

The creation of the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) Committee and its work with the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Council and several other groups on campus helped pave the way for Fant Memorial Library to receive the University Impact Initiative Award. The award recognizes a unit that exemplifies the excellence that is The W through its efforts to enhance diversity, promote cultural diversity and cultivate an inclusive campus community.

“The entire library has been involved in this work, from running our book discussions and retreats, to choosing and cataloging the new materials to support campus efforts, to creating opportunities for discussion about more inclusive opportunities for undergraduate research, to making these efforts more visible to campus and beyond,” Powers said. “We are honored by this award. It really encourages us to continue the work we are doing to know the campus and administration think we are headed in the right direction. This is a process for us, rather than a destination.”

Powers praised the work of Russell Brandon, Brianna Brooks, Kelsey Damms, Rachael Damms, Robin Holliman, Victoria Jones, Nichole Larson, Leslie Massey, Linda Morgan, Bailey Phillips, Anita Pintado, Hillary Richardson, Stephanie Salvaterra, Jared Quist and Elaine Walker for helping the library earn this award. She said the entire library held a series of retreats after the murder of George Floyd. Powers said the retreats helped everyone become more grounded and united as a library community. 

PowersPowers said the library then offered similar workshops to the DEI Council and several other groups on campus. For more about what the library has been working on at its IDEA website go to: https://libguides.muw.edu/IDEA

Powers said the library hopes to continue to be responsive to needs on campus and that it recently shifted the focus of its “IDEA Book Club” to support broader IDEA discussions raised by the monthly IDEA book pick. This allows people who haven’t read the book to participate in discussions about the topics raised in books like January’s pick “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria and Other Conversations About Race.” 

“We believe coming together as a campus and sharing our experiences is a critical part of facilitating IDEA work,” Powers said.

Richardson, an associate professor, undergraduate research coordinator and information literacy librarian, agrees and said the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) is paying more attention to who participates in research on campus and who might be left out. As a result, she said the library is now recruiting faculty for a program that will allow students who are eligible for federal work-study (FWS) to be paid to do research as their job.

“The experiences FWS jobs provide on campus now is great, but this will offer these students’ paid opportunities to tackle complex problems and communicate their solutions,” Richardson said. “The OUR is trying to be more inclusive of students through outreach to faculty mentors by giving workshops and providing online resources that demonstrate ways to address bias in their disciplines and discuss the importance of mentors who value the whole student.”

The addition of the LGBT+ Alumni Oral History Project to the library’s online institutional repository, Athena Commons, is something Jones, who worked as Archives and Special Collections librarian, enjoyed the most. You can access the repository at: https://athenacommons.muw.edu/lgbt/

“One very important aspect of archival work is to highlight, share and reclaim underrepresented voices,” Jones said. “By making these stories available online, we are ensuring that voices of these individuals can be easily accessed and heard by nearly anyone in the world. It seems like a small thing, but I believe sharing these could have a big impact.”

Powers said the library will continue to build its current and historical resources related to history, literature and research on underrepresented and institutionally marginalized communities. She said the library’s internal work and broader discussion in the library field provided a broader and deeper collection focus that it will pass on to the campus.

“We hope that we are providing the resources campus needs now, and we will continue to grow these collections going forward to create a fertile ground for teaching, research and learning,” Powers said. “We are completely open to suggestions from faculty, staff and students about resources to add to the library collections that will enrich and support campus IDEA efforts, both in and outside the classroom.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 21, 2022
Contact: Adam Minichino
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