Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

Last updated: December 6, 2022

Introduction to the Issue: 

Goal Two of the RAILS Strategic Plan (2022-2025) is: RAILS models best practices in equity, diversity, accessibility, and inclusion. This goal focuses on three objectives and will be the basis of RAILS' EDI work for the next three years. This pulse page will provide updates on what RAILS is doing, a list of upcoming and recorded EDI events, and EDI-related resources for our members. If you have comments or questions about the issue of equity, diversity, accessibility, and inclusion, please add them to the Comments section at the bottom of this page.

What RAILS Is Doing: 
  • RAILS Strategic Plan (2022-2025): The RAILS Board approved a new strategic plan in January 2022 that includes a model for best practices in equity, diversity, accessibility and inclusion (under Strategic Goal 2).

    • Objective 1: RAILS will provide leadership in developing and providing resources that will support member libraries' efforts to provide equitable, diverse, and inclusive services.
    • Objective 2: Examine all aspects of RAILS policies, procedures, and core services through an equity lens and make needed improvements.
    • Objective 3: Work with RAILS members of all types to identify and implement ways to diversify library governing bodies and staff to increase representation and better reflect the communities they serve.
  • RAILS EDI Learning Cohort- The current RAILS Strategic Plan addresses our members' expressed need for EDI leadership by including it as one of our four strategic goals. With this in mind, RAILS is pleased to launch our inaugural equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) learning cohort. Forty RAILS members have been selected to participate in the cohort beginning October 2022 and running through May 2023. Cohort members were selected from libraries across our service area and serve in a variety of roles at their respective libraries. This special learning opportunity will engage participants in a collective discourse on critical EDI issues in a supportive setting, and help them learn together how to navigate the opportunities and challenges in the communities they serve. Sessions will be held via Zoom on the second Thursday of each month from 10 a.m. – noon. Direct questions to Joe Filapek, RAILS Director of Consulting and Continuing Education, or 630.734.5132.
  • The RAILS Board Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Committee.
    Meeting schedule
    The committee charge is to:

    • Develop a shared understanding of the nature of systemic racism and bias in libraries and library-related organizations and how to combat it
    • Advise the RAILS Board and staff about appropriate equity and accountability goals to which RAILS and libraries should aspire
    • Recommend ways to assess progress toward achieving those goals
      ​​The committee will also help to: identify barriers in libraries and the library field and solutions to eliminate them; develop ideas and programs to increase awareness about systemic racism and bias among member libraries, staff and boards; and facilitate system wide discussion about EDI.
    • Programs & Outreach Subcommittee (Last meeting in December 2021, no further meetings scheduled)
    • Recruitment, Hiring & Retention Subcommittee (Last meeting in December 2021, no further meetings scheduled)
    • Staff Training, Leadership & Advocacy Subcommittee (Last meeting in December 2021, no further meetings scheduled)
  • RAILS Selects Seven Recipients for EDI Training Grants (grant info) July 2021
  • RAILS Statement Condemning Anti-Asian Hate Crimes
  • Sparks Podcast Episode 28: Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
  • RAILS EDI Mailing List
    All RAILS member library staff members interested in sharing ideas and best practices related to EDI are invited to subscribe to our EDI mailing list by visiting the Email Lists page in the Members section of the RAILS website and clicking on the Subscribe link for this mailing list.
  • Internal RAILS Staff EDI Initiative
    RAILS is beginning to work with a consultant on an internal staff EDI initiative. We need to examine and make the necessary changes to our own culture so we can authentically work with others on equity, diversity and inclusion. We will share our experiences as they develop via this pulse page.
  • Networking Groups:
    • Chicago Chapter of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (CCBCALA)
      This national organization's mission is to serve as an "advocate for the development, promotion, and improvement of library services and resources to the nation's African American community; and provides leadership for the recruitment and professional development of African American librarians."
    • Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Team in Youth Services (EDITY-YS)
      Library staff interested in meeting with like-minded youth services library staff to discuss diversity of all kinds are invited to join this networking group.
    • BIPOC Library Workers (BIPOC LW)
      This group aims to foster connection, share resources and discuss specific experiences in a safe, welcome, and open space for all library workers members who identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or People of Color.
    • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in Metadata networking group (DEI in Metadata)
      This group aims to foster the importance of a shared understanding of the inclusive library metadata practices in Illinois libraries. This group will also provide advice and support for Illinois libraries to create and maintain more equitable, diverse, and inclusive metadata content.
    • Illinois Libraries Present
      The Illinois Joint Library Programming Group provides high-quality online events at equitable prices for participating member libraries of all sizes and budgets. To provide high-quality, high-profile events that highlight national names and social justice/DEI issues, that would otherwise be cost-prohibitive for single libraries to hold on their own
    • REFORMA Midwest Chapter Afro-Latine Affinity Group
      REFORMA announces the launch of the REFORMA Afro-Latinè Affinity Group (RALAG). The purpose is to increase awareness of the intersection of Blackness and Latinidad plus foster support among REFORMA's Afro-Latinè members and allies. Contact midwestreformachapter@gmail.com with questions


​​eRead Illinois Axis 360:

  • eRead Illinois Axis 360 includes a curated list of racial justice titles with numerous anti-racism bestsellers. eRead Illinois Axis 360 members can access all of the titles in the bestsellers list. The list can also be added to an eRead library's Axis 360 site. See instructions.
  • Lawrence Hill Books: always available quality nonfiction on progressive politics, civil and human rights, feminism, and topics of interest to African Americans and other underrepresented groups.
Library Examples: 

RAILS EDI Committee Member EDI Initiatives

Library Examples

Survey/Member Feedback

  • Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Activities Survey
    Please submit information about your library's EDI activities.
    See survey results here.

Other Resources: