Thumbnail Image

Social Justice Partners: A Service Design Toolkit for Library Response to Campus Tensions

Academic libraries exist at the very center of our campus communities; they are the literal and figurative geographic hearts of our colleges and universities. At our best, libraries aim to provide safe and welcoming spaces, both virtual and physical, for reflection, engagement, critical debate, and learning. This powerful role is both a responsibility and an honor. Libraries should take great care to prepare themselves to respond quickly, appropriately, and firmly in the face of rising anxieties or tensions on our campuses related to racial, cultural, social, or political instability or any local trauma. Recently, the University of New Hampshire- Durham (UNH) Library renewed its commitment to providing a space for discourse and learning and to act as an ally in the face of discrimination, bullying, and intimidation. In order to better prepare the library to activate this commitment in tangible ways following rising tensions, librarians are creating a crisis response plan. Using principles of service design, librarians are investigating the needs of library employees, including student workers, and strategic campus partners to inform their approach. The resulting plan will serve as a guide for supporting all users at UNH, particularly marginalized or vulnerable populations, during times of upheaval. This preparation will position the library as a ready and engaged leader when its services are most needed. Drawing on disaster management literature and service design principles, this project seeks to offer a structure for preparing to provide immediate, compassionate, and well-coordinated support when traumatic events or other upheavals to the campus climate inevitably occur. The presenters will detail the process of developing a “Campus in Crisis” response plan and offer a repurpose-able toolkit for localized applications. Workshop attendees will practice and discuss identifying partners, understanding social justice work in libraries, and examining campus culture.