2022 EDI Assessment Recommendation Efforts

Issue a statement that explicitly recognizes historic racism in Evanston and commits the Library to social justice. (Completed)

  • The Evanston Public Library Board approved our Equity statement at the April 2020 board meeting. 
  • In 2022, the Board adopted a Land Acknowledgment with input from its Racial Equity Task Force and assistance from Jasmine Gurneau (Oneida/Menominee), director of Native American and Indigenous Initiatives at the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion at Northwestern University. 

Invest in cultural competence development for EPL leadership and staff. (Ongoing)

  • Evanston Public Library participated in mandatory, yearlong training using the Project Ready curriculum that began in January 2020 and has continued through 2022.
  • In addition to Project Ready, Library staff attended numerous professional development workshops and seminars on EDI topics such as “Becoming a Trans Inclusive Library” from the University of Illinois, “We Know Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion are Important…Now What?” and “Creating Pathways to Civil Legal Justice” from WebJunction, and Racial Healing Circle training from the YWCA.
  • Staff annual review goals reflect a commitment to completing EDI training and reviewing their work through an equity lens. EPL will be repeating Project Ready’s initial modules for new staff. Existing staff wishing reinforcement of the content may repeat modules and/or continue their learning through the study of additional modules.
  • At the Robert Crown Branch, our Branch Assistant was selected to join RAILS’ EDI committee and is presenting on inclusive programming for its Reaching Forward Conference. Our Branch Assistant also participated in a YWCA workshop on Power, Privilege and Oppression, is a board member of Environmental Justice Evanston (EJE), and attends monthly meetings of a local White Anti-Racist Group.
  • In 2022, the Administrative team worked with the Anew Collective consulting group to build their racial literacy skills, consciousness, and capacity as a collective of leaders through an intersectional lens.

Develop a talent management plan that identifies goals for hiring, developing, and promoting people of color. (Ongoing)

  • Our Robert Crown branch library staff reflects and serves our diverse community in English and Spanish.
  • Our recruitment efforts expanded to place job notifications with Illinois Library Association, American Library Association Black Caucus and REFORMA (Latinx Caucus) and locally with partners such as Cherry Preschool, Evanston Township High School, and Youth Job Center which serve our diverse students and families.
  • BIPOC staff enrolled in accredited MLIS programs and participated in tuition reimbursement. Across the library profession, MLIS degree requirements are an often-cited barrier to equitable representation in leadership roles.
  • Job descriptions have been rewritten to attract a more diverse pool of applicants.
  • In 2021, two new Family Engagement Coordinator positions were staffed to connect with and foster deeper engagement with Evanston’s Black and Latinx communities, and we added a new paid intern position for the Citywide STEM challenge that is specifically for Black and Latinx young adults.

Create a group focused on equity and race composed of Library staff and community members. (Ongoing)

  • The Racial Equity Task Force (RETF) comprises 10 community members, 2 library trustees, and is supported by 4 staff persons. The Task Force was launched in 2018, and in 2021 advised the library on approaches to encouraging library cardholders to voluntarily share their race/ethnicity and language spoken at home with the Library. The RETF welcomed new members in 2022. 

Create and use metrics to assess and adjust efforts in support of the Library’s EDI values. (Ongoing)

  • In 2022, EPL launched its initiative to track race, ethnicity, and language-spoken-at-home data from new cardholders who volunteer to share this information while registering. This data is protected and used in aggregate to track our efforts to better serve our Black and Latinx  community members.
  • In 2021, the Library’s metrics program collectionHQ introduced a way to evaluate DEI metrics. We can now see which items slated for removal fall into DEI categories (Black authors, Indigenous content, etc.) and can instead highlight them in displays so that they circulate. We are currently inputting additional information to make these DEI metrics as accurate as possible. When the DEI metrics began in September of 2021, around 280K items were analyzed. The metrics indicated that 44K or 16.2% of the collection could be categorized as DEI. By December of 2022 we had weeded down the collection, so only 265K items were analyzed. The metrics indicated that 61K or 23.2% of the collection could now be categorized as DEI. We will continue to track these numbers and improve visibility of historically marginalized voices in our collections.

Create an innovative approach to space and services in Fifth Ward. (Ongoing)

  • We continued discussions with groups seeking to redefine the future of the Family Focus facility.
  • EPL has enhanced our presence in the 5th Ward through partnerships with Y.O.U., Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Evanston Own It, Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center, Family Focus, Gibbs-Morrison Cultural Center, Freedom School, Teen Baby Nursery (IWSE), Home Daycare Provider Book Bag Delivery (4 daycare homes), YMCA Headstart, EvanSTEM, Connections for the Homeless, Over the Rainbow/Hill Apartments, Jacob Blake Manor, and Ebenezer Primm Tower.
  • We provided Foster Seniors Group with hardware and training to support their virtual meetings during the pandemic.
  • We continue to provide free weekly afterschool STEM programming at Family Focus for grades 5th-8th, and in partnership with Family Focus, Fleetwood-Jourdain and Evanston Grows, we’ve launched farmstands that engage youth participants with ecology and distribute food to the community at the Fleetwood-Jourdain and Levy Centers. 

Expand book collections that reflect the needs and interests of the Black and Latinx communities. (Ongoing)

  • In 2018, we began to track book purchases of Black authors and subject matter. The total number of purchased titles (not number of copies) was 447. This did not include Urban and Romance titles. In 2019, we expanded to include those genres as well. In 2020, the number of purchased titles was 485. This in spite of a 35% budget decrease.
  • After tracking book purchases, by the end of 2022 we now knew that we had purchased at least 2410 individual titles with Black content and authors and 236 Latinx titles. In 2022 we starting using these lists to make sure we also had these titles available as ebooks, eaudiobooks, audiobooks, and large print. 
  • The 101 Great Books for Kids 2022 list was released in October 2021. This list exemplifies the wide diversity and variety of children’s literature published that year.
  • We conducted a diversity audit of the Adult Fiction section giving us a baseline to improve upon in the future.

Continue supporting culture-specific engagement specialists. (Ongoing)

  • We hired staff for two new Family Engagement positions serving our Black and Latinx families.
  • Black Family Engagement Coordinator and Latino Engagement Librarian positions have developed deep partnerships in the community in support of creating a two-way communication loop between EPL and the Black and Latino communities. Programs such as the Cafecitos, citizenship and homeowner opportunity information sessions, Dedicated to the Dream, and Story Quest are examples of the outcome of these partnerships.
  • Both positions also work internally to support the EDI Committee and the RETF.

Shift the focus of communications from the multitude of programs and services to engagement. (Ongoing)

  • We continued to work with the Racial Equity Task Force, and piloted new ways to communicate with Black and Latinx residents.Through a competitive grant and working with the Racial Equity Task Force, EPL created a series of videos to promote library materials and services to our Black and Latinx community. 
  • In 2022, we produced comprehensive, cross-departmental summer engagement calendars to promote our engagement programs in the community alongside our regular summer programming. 

Embed EDI into the Library’s ongoing communication strategy. (Ongoing)

  • We continue to work with the Racial Equity Task Force and seek new ways to communicate with Black and Latinx residents.
  • Our strategic messaging has been revised to focus on and promote equitable access to literacy and other resources and equity in who, where and how we serve the community.
  • In partnership with EvanSTEM and District 65, we focus our STEM program marketing to target BIPOC students and girls.
  • We contracted with a translator to remove inequitable burdens on our bilingual staff and develop professional written communications in Spanish. 
  • In 2022, EPL began the multi-year implementation of Patron Point, a new email marketing platform integrated with our ILS that will allow us to track our progress in engaging across segments of our residents and patrons.  


Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.

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