In the last issue of the Agenda, I wrote about the role of our Values and Principles and reflected a bit on the primacy of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion among them.
Now that the final version has been posted publicly to our website—you can find them here or by navigating to About > Mission, Vision, & Strategic Plan on the Libraries’ homepage—I wanted to take some time to discuss the changes that Cabinet made.
You will see that this document is not considerably different from what was initially recommended to us by the Values and Principles Taskforce. However, we thought it was important to add some prefatory remarks to describe the function of these values and principles within our organizational culture and explain the order in which they are listed:
Rutgers University Libraries’ values and principles inform our efforts to support and enrich the instructional, research, and public service missions of Rutgers University. Our values represent our core beliefs, while each of the supporting principles describes how these values can and should be manifested in our day-to-day work. Serving as a compass to guide our interactions and decision-making, these elements differ from our annual priorities, which describe the “what” of our work rather than the “how” and “why.”
We also acknowledge the difficult truth that not all of these values fully reflect our current reality. For this reason, we have chosen to foreground our commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in recognition that we must do more to create a workplace that embraces individuals with a diversity of backgrounds, identities, and roles. Moving forward, we pledge to strive toward these standards of thought and behavior so that we may become an organization distinguished by a culture of fairness, respect, and opportunity for all.
From the perspective of our leadership group, it is especially helpful to have these values and principles in place at this moment, when we are tasked with making difficult decisions related to budgetary reductions while continuing to provide excellent library service, all despite the challenges and uncertainties of the ever-shifting environment created by the pandemic. With this document as our “North Star,” we can continually look inward, examine our thoughts and behaviors, and make sure we are living up to the standards we have formally set forth.
We should also not shy away from the fact that these values and principles are in some ways aspirational, particularly when it comes to our commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. While we have made some strides in this area over the years through various programs, policy changes, and other activities, there is still work that remains to be done. Acknowledging our current situation is an important first step for us, as is the work that will be undertaken by the newly formed DEI Committee.
Please do take the time to read back over these values and principles and reflect on how they can be brought to bear on your own day-to-day work and in your interactions with patrons and colleagues. Remember, as an organization, we have all contributed to the development of these ideals—and it is now our shared responsibility to collectively embody them.