DEI Initiatives

Promoting diversity, access, and inclusiveness

Fondren seeks to take proactive measures in promoting diversity, access, and inclusiveness. We took new steps in 2020-21 in the following areas.

DeEtta Jones Associates (DJA) conducted six listening sessions in November 2020, with Latinx Employees, Black Employees, Asian & Pacific Islander Employees, Managers, All Employees, and Senior Leaders. The observations were organized in the following sequence:

  • High-level themes
  • Unique reflections from the Latinx, Black, and Asian & Pacific Islander Employees

One of the consistent themes of the report was the desire for training. All Fondren staff completed the DJA online course "Essentials of Cultural Competence," in January 2021. The course involved individual and group study, and was completed over a period of five weeks. 

Textbook Affordability 

Fondren staff members collaborated with staff representatives from the Student Success Initiatives (SSI) office to brainstorm ways to help students, resulting in a dedicated fund to be used for library books and journals to support the SSI office and increased willingness to purchase library copies of textbooks. A research guide for First-Gen/Low-Income students was created with links to online resources and support.

Expansion of Fondren Accessibility Committee to include inclusion and diversity

Fondren Library values diversity in its patrons, staff, and resources. To meet the needs of patrons and staff who have been historically underrepresented and/or feel unwelcome, the Accessibility and Inclusion (A&I) committee expanded from the core mission of the Accessibility Committee in the summer of 2021. 

Fondren Library forms Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement 

In order to address Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), promote understanding, and increase the sense of belonging at Fondren Library, we will:            

  • Recruit and retain a diverse library staff.
  • Train and develop staff in cultural competency.
  • Promote understanding of implicit bias, and work to shape our organization to limit it.
  • Intentionally find ways to be more inclusive. 
  • Promote equity and accessibility in collections, and the allocation of resources to support DEI initiatives in all areas of Fondren Library

Note: In addition, The Association of Research Libraries defines diversity and inclusion (DEI) as “embracing the full spectrum of human and social identities, including, but not limited to, race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, and gender identity and expression, sexuality, ability, veteran status, class, and religion.” 

Black Lives Matter collaborations

The summer of 2020 was a time of historic protests for racial justice and civil rights in the wake of George Floyd’s death (a Houston native), and many others before and after him. During this time, many Fondren staff contributed and worked to raise awareness around issues of racial justice through our collections and curation.

Based on feedback from the Rice for Black Life student organization, and with assistance from UX Office student assistant, Raiya Myren ’23,  Fondren Library staff purchased and processed books and ebooks to support the Rice community, and gathered resources into a BLM LibGuide

Book Exhibits

Fondren Book Exhibits focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

Starting in September 2021, Fondren staff members Shannon McKirchy (Access Services) and Jeanette Sewell (Cataloging and Metadata Services) established a monthly book display to pique the interest of patrons from various backgrounds and foster an educational and enriching environment. 

The inaugural display in mid-September 2021 focused on Hispanic Heritage Month, and the displays quickly embraced the library’s mission of promoting diversity, access, and inclusion to highlight diverse voices, cultures, and perspectives. Future displays celebrated staff picks (January 2022), Black History Month (February 2022), and Women’s History Month (March 2022). The April 2022 Books for Peace exhibit focused on the history and culture of Ukraine, as well as literature by Ukrainian authors.

The display has grown and evolved over the months to include two bookcases and engaging elements including coloring pages, puzzles, bookmarks, and buttons. Future plans include displays on Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage months, Pride Month, and Banned Books.