A US academic library promotes pluralism with technology

Publication Date09 August 2011
Date09 August 2011
AuthorDeborah J. Margolis
SubjectLibrary & information science
Michigan State University (MSU)
has had an institutional commitment to
promote diversity in all its colleges and
units since 1989. As part of MSU
Institutional Diversity: Excellence in
Action (IDEA), each academic unit,
including the library, was required to
create a diversity committee. Diversity
efforts were to be evaluated annually by
university administration at the highest
levels. MSU IDEA focuse d on the
inclusion of women, traditionally
underrepresented ethnic minorities, and
people with disabilities in all areas of the
university. In 1992 MSU IDEA II
additionally “direct[ed] attention to the
value of diversity as reflected in
individual differences based on
religion, ethnicity, national origin, and
sexual orientation”. The MSU Libraries’
Diversity advisory committee has the
following charge:
[...] plan public programming on
diversity and inclusion for Martin Luther
King, Jr Day in support of the University
theme, and other similar diversity
events/celebrations, as needed. In
conjunction with Libraries’ Human
Resources, identifyandrecommend
programming on diversity and inclusion
for staff.
The MSU Libraries have an “absolute
commitment to diversity” (C. Hyslop,
2010, pers. comm., 27 October).
Concrete evidence of this commitment
is the designated Diversity display
case located prominently on the first
floor of the Main Library, in which
the Libraries’ Diversity advisory
committee regularly organizes exhibits.
Incident, response, and relationships
On 11 September 2010, a desecrated
Qur’an was found in front of the local
Islamic Center, just across the street
from the University. The Libraries
rallied in response to this act of
intolerance. Support for an exhibit in
the Diversity display case was
generously forthcoming from all levels
of the organization. Within three weeks
of the incident, an exhibit and related
online resource guide were available.
Books and media from library
collections on the following topics
were included in the exhibit: religious
pluralism, Muslims in the USA, hate
crimes, book burning, and information
about the incident in East Lansing.
Books on Islamic calligraphy from our
Fine Arts Library were included to
counter the images of a desecrated
Reaching out to organizations
beyond the Libraries enriched the
physical library display and catalyzed
campus and community relationships.
The Libraries’ Diversity advisory
committee contacted the Islamic
Society of Lansing for permission to
use the photographs of the burnt Qur’an
in the exhibit. The Islamic Center
graciously allowed us to reproduce the
photos in the exhibit. We also contacted
the university art museum for
permission to use a photograph of a
manuscript leaf from a tenth century
Qur’an in their collection. The art
museum offered us the original leaf to
display as part of this special exhibit.
Just after the exhibit went up, the
Islamic Center brought copies of the
Qur’an as gifts to the library; a copy of
each edition was added to the display.
A representative of the Islamic Center
[...] I am deeply touched and I am sure
that is how my fellow community
members will feel when they get to
know about this exhibit. I will get the
word out on our web site and I will also
share this as a news tip with some of the
members of the media who are on my
contact list. (T. Sardar, 2010, pers.
comm., 1 October)
Our exhibit was highlighted on the
Islamic Center’s web site, and a
reporter from the campus newspaper
soon contacted the Libraries to write an
article about the exhibit. Next a call was
received from the chair of the Muslim
Studies Program, hoping to work with
the library on a jointly sponsored
event during the time when the exhibit
would be up. A panel discussion,
“Islam and the Qur’an in the
Abrahamic Tradition”, with faculty
and community panelists representing
each of the three Abrahamic faiths, was
planned and added to the fall Library
Colloquia Series.
An online resource guide was
created using LibGuides to extend the
reach of the physical exhibit. Links to
information about the items on display
and a selection of the best subscription
and web resources provided paths to
further learning (http://libguides.lib.
msu.edu/quranexhibit). LibGuides is a
software tool for creating online
research guides, from Springshare.
An added benefit is that one is part of
a community of LibGuides users, and
we were contacted by a library who
requested to use this guide as the basis
for a guide at their institution.
LibGuides also display nicely on
mobile devices.
QR Codes
On the display case was a QR code
smartphone, and would lead to the
exhibit LibGuide. QR codes are simple
Library Hi Tech News
Number 6 2011, pp. 25-27, qEmerald Group Publishing Limited, 0741-9058, DOI 10.1108/07419051111173900 25
A US academic library promotes pluralism
with technology
Deborah J. Margolis

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