In the summer of 2020, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests, the Cleveland Museum of Art recommitted to our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion plan. Departments were tasked with developing plans for increasing diversity and anti-racism in their specific fields. The Ingalls Library staff began working collaboratively on a DEI statement in the fall of 2020 to address our existing shortcomings and come up with some specific parameters for improvement. This statement was recently finalized.
“The Ingalls Library and Museum Archives reaffirms and emphatically supports the CMA’s DEI goals, as embodied in the 2018 plan. In support of these efforts, the library and archives will aggressively expand our collections, focusing on BIPOC and under-represented groups and addressing these areas in our bi-annual review of our collection development policy. In addition to the acquisition of new material, we will review and update descriptions of library and archival materials for inclusive language and reparative description. The Ingalls Library and Museum Archives must be a space welcoming to new voices, new ideas, and new endeavors, to become a locus for engagement within and outside the library and the museum.”
While this statement will guide our DEI efforts into the future, several efforts have begun in earnest.
In our Acquisitions department, we are currently working on a project to collect photobooks by Black photographers. This initiative will strengthen an area of our collection that has not had the attention it deserves and will also support the museum’s photography collection.
Reparative description is defined by the Society of American Archivists as, “remediation of practices or data that exclude, silence, harm, or mischaracterize marginalized people in the data created or used by archivists to identify or characterize archival resources.” The Ingalls Library and Museum Archives is currently reviewing our digital collections to remove offensive or outdated language regarding marginalized people and providing fuller descriptions of these people. We are currently focusing on photographs of exhibitions of African art and Indigenous North American art.
The implementation of these efforts is not easy or perfect, and therefore we will enter into an ongoing cycle of evaluation, of both our practice and our collections, to ensure our commitment is steadfast. We will remain transparent regarding our success and our failure to be a model for how efforts like this can be implemented within our field. We welcome feedback from our constituents as we proceed with these goals. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions or feedback related to this statement. As librarians, archivists, and people, we remain humbled to be charged with this great trust.