Pikes Peak Library District established the new public service area of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) in January 2021. With this newer public service and dedicated staff, we can ensure our spaces and programs are welcoming and accessible for every resident. This includes those with disabilities, members of the military and their families, older adults, those of different faiths, people of color, immigrants, LBGTQIA+ individuals, those who live in more rural parts, and many other identities within our county.
Here’s a snapshot of their focus and goals: “Pikes Peak Library District is committed to treating all individuals with respect and dignity by embracing the principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion. We will achieve this by following PPLD’s new vision, mission, and values; ensuring our policies and programs promote the representation and participation of all El Paso County community members - past, present, and future.”
This small team provides EDI-focused services and outreach to our community, along with guidance to staff, to name a few things. For example, the EDI team now directly oversees our accessibility resources, services, and programs for the public. This includes ADA accessibility needs, assistive technology available at our Library locations, and our Library Explorers program that’s open to people of all abilities.
They also provide resources and programs specifically for older adults, so people can avoid isolation and loneliness, learn about Medicare, and find whatever else they need at this stage of life. In addition to this, our EDI team has expanded Library outreach to military families and veterans, as well as the faith-based community. They often collaborate with other entities to ensure anyone seeking support can access what they need.
Thanks to our EDI team and other Library staff, we can fulfill a part of our new mission – cultivating physical, digital, and other spaces for belonging – and being here for everyone in our community.
Interview with Shirley Martinez, PPLD’s Director of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
This was originally featured in our Winter 2022 issue of the District Discovery magazine, and we’re resharing now to address some of your most common questions.
What is equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI)?
Equity is about making sure individuals are treated equitably, not just in jobs. It could be at the grocery store. It could be at the doctor's office. It could be pay.
Diversity is about story. It's about the things that make up who you are, your experiences, your education, background, where you come from, the things that you do.
Inclusion is about the action. It's about the things that you do to include people in decisions, programs, marches, art… That's what inclusion is about.
EDI is about the story that is told and being equitable in order for people to feel like they belong.
It's about ensuring that everybody has a seat at the table, that they have an outlet for their voice. And this doesn't mean that it stops anyone else from having a voice. It's about having dialogue and being able to have courageous conversations and not be offended. You don't have to like what somebody says. We're not there to make everybody change their minds. We're there to educate and provide tools. Hopefully, they get something from it.
What are some common misconceptions about EDI?
I would say 50% of the people think that EDI is about race and race issues between blacks and whites. But when you dig a little deeper, you understand that it's also about individuals with disabilities. It's about women. It's about LGBT. It's about all the things that make us different.
What goals have you set for EDI initiatives at the Library?
One of them is improved staff perception and giving them meaningful work on how to help the Library move itself into a place of being truly inclusive. If we're open to the public, we need to be open to all.
Another way is continued compliance with ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act], with Title II [which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in all services, programs, and activities]. We look at equipment, our books, our posters, our facilities… Can people use our systems with JAWS [a computer screen reader program]? Are they able to check out a book at the self-checkout?
We also want to build and strengthen relationships with our patrons and contribute to the Library’s community engagement and outreach. We need to reach out to the military veteran community and the faith-based community.
Also with diversity, we need to look at benchmarking, program measures, and accountability. We need to identify what measures are working.