2021-2022 EQUITY, DIVERSITY, AND INCLUSION COHORTS:FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
LEO has been awarded a grant funding six regionally-based cohorts in rural Oregon, supporting library staff, board members, and key volunteers in a year-long commitment to move equity work forward in rural, conservative communities.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who Are The Facilitators?
The EDI Cohorts project will be led by the incredible Christina Fuller-Gregory, who has been a longtime member of and has served as co-chair of the Public Library Association's EDISJ (equity, diversity, inclusion, and social justice) committee. Christina played a critical leadership role in developing PLA's EDI work, including the regional trainings offered pre-pandemic and the EDI-focused Leadership Lab. Christina will be joined by two additional session facilitators, Tiffany Russell, who is well-known for her social work perspective and experience with trauma-informed library service, and Charity Tooze of Dancing Hearts Consulting, a consultancy based in southern and central Oregon. Dancing Hearts Consulting led the We Count Oregon Census 2020 efforts and is active in redistricting efforts.
What Will The Cohort Meetings Cover?
The work of the cohorts will be based on the Oregon Library Association's EDI & Antiracism Committee's recently developed and released Anti-Racism toolkit [PDF] with a focus on each session putting the learning into practice, supporting cohort participants in implementing what they have learned at their libraries and in their communities. We thank the EDIAC for their incredible work developing the toolkit.
Together, in regionally-based groups of no more than 15, participants will work together, learning, developing, and implementing skills and best practices that are critical to introducing lasting and successful EDI initiatives in small, rural, and conservative communities. The cohorts are intended to be a space for library staff to gain and deepen understanding of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) concepts and, through personal, supported study and exploration, gain confidence to promote equity work in their communities, partnering with existing groups and community members of color as an authentic advocate and ally. These are public library services best practices; true access for all is an essential part of what libraries need to do.
The first meeting of the cohorts will focus on exploring the concepts in the Anti-Racism toolkit, offering a "gentle point of entry," in Christina Fuller-Gregory's words, to the essential learning embedded in the toolkit. Training topics overall are informed by the OLA Anti-Racism toolkit. Participants can expect to learn about:
Power, Privilege, and Oppression
Equity in Action
Funding EDI Work.
This will be an opportunity for both those new to equity work and those experienced with equity work to learn more and begin to work together. The cohorts are safe spaces for learning, growing, and community building.
In addition to providing equity training and learning led by nationally recognized thought leaders, the cohorts seek to reduce the barriers for library staff in many small and rural communities in engaging in professional development, coordinating a multiple-session geographic cohort-based model that addresses time, travel distance, and funding.
When Are The Cohort Meetings?
The first two cohort sessions will be full-group virtual meetings, held on Tuesday, October 19, 2021 from 8:30am to noon and Thursday, January 13, 2022 from 8:30am to noon. The following two sessions will be in person, with cohorts located in Grants Pass (two cohorts), Prineville, Pendleton, La Grande, and Ontario. Dates vary for these sessions based on the facilitator, but will be between March and early June of 2022. There is no travel until spring 2022; if COVID remains an issue, social distancing, cleaning, and masking protocols will be in place according to state guidelines.
Who Should Participate?
In Oregon, library training opportunities, as well as the sharing of best practices and lessons learned, in equity, diversity, and inclusion work, almost exclusively take place or are centered on the experiences of library workers in western Oregon, leaving library colleagues in rural Oregon feeling left out or challenged to implement learning gained. The EDI Cohorts project seeks to support library workers outside of the Willamette Valley with deep, engaging training in equity, diversity, and inclusion topics, with a special focus on implementing learning in their libraries and communities.
Please note: the framework of the cohort learning prioritizes participation of interested library staff of color, while also ensuring participating library staff of color do not have the burden additional and undue emotional labor.
What Are The Expectations for Participants?
Each participant chosen for a cohort will be expected to make a commitment to actively take part in all four learning sessions as well as engage in the implementation projects between sessions. You must come with a learner's mind, ready to engage in the learning (and unlearning) necessary to truly explore the concepts in the OLA Anti-Racism toolkit.
The four meetings will take place between October 2021 and June 2022. The first two sessions will be virtual, and are scheduled for Tuesday, October 19, 2021 and Thursday, January 13, 2022, with both sessions running from 8:30am to noon Pacific time. All participants will be part of the same online session. The final two meetings will be held between March and the end of June 2022; dates will vary depending on location. Virtual meetings will be approximately 3 hours; in person meetings will range between 4 and 6 hours. Participants will have homework assignments between sessions. We anticipate the overall time commitment to be approximately 40 hours between October 2021 and June 2022.
Building a network of support amongst cohort members is an essential element of the Cohorts project. Successful participants will not only come prepared to engage in their own learning, but to provide empathetic and open support to your fellow learners; there will be opportunity for individual and group learning.
What Financial Support is Available For Participants?
The grant funds the travel expenses for all participants, as well as a pool for substitute coverage for both the virtual and in-person sessions for our colleagues in solo libraries. Libraries were encouraged to send more than one staff person, and extend the opportunity to key volunteers and Board members.
For the two in-person meetings, each participant will receive a stipend to cover mileage expenses, meals, and other incidentals. In addition, one night of hotel will be organized by LEO, and coffee, tea, water, morning snacks, and lunch will be provided at the cohort meeting location. Participants will not receive a bill for participating in the program; this may be of use for library staff in communities who are not supportive of equity training.
For our colleagues working in solo libraries, LEO also has a pool of funds available to cover hiring a substitute to allow you to travel to participate. These funds may be used to cover attendance at the virtual sessions as well as the in-person sessions.
It is our hope that the barriers that library staff in Southern and Eastern Oregon face to take part in training, including often needing to travel long distances and the cost of supporting that travel, will be removed for cohort participants.
In our virtual sessions, we will ensure attendees have the supports needed to fully participate.
Where is the Funding From?
This project is made possible by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the State Library of Oregon. The Oregon Library Association, the Public Library Association, the Association of Small & Rural Libraries, and the Southern Oregon Library Federation all supported the Libraries of Eastern Oregon in pursuing the project, and ensure learning from the project has a broad reach. Host libraries support the project through meeting room use and making refreshments available.
Additional funding for the project came from the Libraries of Eastern Oregon.