Reflecting on Our Values and Principles

As I’m sure you’ve seen in your email or the Cabinet minutes, the Libraries’ Values and Principles Taskforce recently completed its work and issued a final recommendation to Cabinet for consideration. We are still in the process of finalizing our values and principles and will post them to our website soon—but in my mind, this work could not have come at a better time, as the COVID pandemic, the shift to online-only, and now, planning for the phased return to our buildings, have all forced us to take a step back and determine what is core to library service.

Our values and principles are different from our goals and priorities. The latter identify “what” we do, while the former describe the “how” and “why.” When these are finalized, we will have a set of ideals that we can use to guide our decision-making in the future—and in some ways, they have already begun to do so. For example, at the last Cabinet meeting, during which we discussed the taskforce’s recommendation to us, we decided to move the value of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) to the top of the list. This was a recognition of the importance of this value to us as a leadership group and an organization, as well as an acknowledgment of the reality that we have work to do in this area. Our first step forward is charging a new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, which will take stock of our current environment in order to guide and recommend processes within the Libraries that embrace DEI. As a reflection of our ongoing commitment to this value, the DEI Committee will be a permanent group designed to provide continuing guidance on these issues, not a working group tasked with producing a single report or planning a one-off training.

Of course, this is only one example of how our values and principles can serve as a compass for us. Moving forward, we should consistently refer to them as a guide when there are hard decisions to make or difficult conversations to have. When we embrace these values—DEI, Inquiry, Access, Service, and Collaboration—with the intent of truly living them, we can be confident in our ability to move forward in a way that meaningfully advances the missions of the Libraries and the university.

I would once again like to thank the members of the taskforce—Mina Ghajar, Tom Glynn, Samantha Kannegiser, Elizabeth Surles, and Geoffrey Wood—for their extraordinary work. Their job was certainly not an easy one, and the way in which they sought input from faculty and staff across the Libraries was admirable. I encourage you to review our values and principles once they are posted and reflect on how you can embody them in your own day-to-day work.

Krisellen Maloney