Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Public Libraries: Identifying Key Themes for Success

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Public Libraries: Identifying Key Themes for Success is an ode to the incredible work Victorian public libraries are doing every day to make all people truly valued and welcome, as well as a call for consistency and collaboration with community to keep up the momentum and do more, better.

Originally published as part of the State Library of Victoria’s 2023 ‘Shared Leadership Program’, the report and findings within are intended to be used by services around Australia to inspire new offerings, validate good instincts about ‘where to next?’ and provide a flexible framework drawing on expertise and eight case studies from across Victoria’s diverse public library system.

This presentation will create the space and time for participants to reflect on and consider how public libraries are for everyone, rather than just confirming that they should be. It will provide a nuanced conversation about balancing the traditions of public library services, motivations and fears of library workers, challenges for management and opportunities to build on what’s existing as well as change what needs changing. Serving the breadth of our diverse communities is not an easy task, but it’s something that we can achieve with strategic partnerships, thoughtful program design, needs-based outreach, consideration of existing offerings and genuine, patron-centred relationships. To best engage in these practises going forward, our sector can focus on a number of workforce strategies today, including investing in the skillsets and confidence of our staff, creating new roles and recruiting to reflect community demographics and values, co-creating policy and planning with teams and building in time to share learnings, network and contribute to sector-wide resources.

As a public libraries network, we are committed, compassionate and capable of achieving DE&I hand in hand with our communities. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Public Libraries: Identifying Key Themes for Success will provide not only practical suggestions on how to approach this work, but also the momentum to continue being brave and ambitious. This is where it matters most.

Alan Sewell

Branch Manager, Your Library

Author Bio

Alan Sewell (he/him) is a Branch Manager at Your Library in the Outer East metro Melbourne. Alan has worked in public libraries in Victoria for the last 10 years and has witnessed the sector continue to advocate for libraries to be more inclusive and welcoming spaces, particularly for those in the community who may have traditionally thought that libraries are not for them. Alan has a passion for innovation and continuous improvement in library service models that embed the diversity, equity, and inclusion lens at the centre of any change.

Gabrielle Ryan

Senior Team Leader, Library Partnerships and Engagement, Maribyrnong Library Service

Author Bio

Gabrielle Ryan (she/her) is Senior Team Leader, Library Partnerships and Engagement at Maribyrnong Libraries. An alumna of the Shared Leadership Program 2023, Gabrielle is passionate about library sector engagement and collaboration, diversity and inclusion, and the power of libraries to foster community and connection. Having presented to Library Managers across both online and in-person settings, Gabrielle has also MC’d many author events at Maribyrnong Libraries.

Dylan Oosterweghel

Team Leader of Community Engagement and Outreach, Yarra Libraries

Author Bio

Dylan Oosterweghel (he/him) is Team Leader of Community Engagement and Outreach at Yarra Libraries in Melbourne’s inner north. Joining the Library sector in 2020, he is passionate about the supportive role libraries play in communities’ lives as they grow and develop. Dylan takes pride in creating safe and welcoming spaces and fostering an inclusive environment that meets the demands of communities. He is excited to be in the sector as library spaces continue to evolve and develop as pivotal spaces for development within a thriving community.

Georgia Karavis

Coordinator Social Policy and Inclusion, Latrobe City

Author Bio

Georgia Karavis (she/her) has built her career around working with communities to create special, dignifying moments. Before joining Latrobe City leading Library Programs and Engagement, she worked in the not-for-profit and local government sectors with a special interest in food systems and young people. Georgia is enthusiastic about building systems which prioritise the needs of those who have historically faced barriers to participation, and bringing people of all kinds along for the journey. She believes that for a commons to survive, it must continually reflect and adapt – this is her aim within the library sector.

Leah Williams

Prevention Conservator, State Library Victoria

Author Bio

Leah Williams (she/her, a devoted Preventive Conservator in Melbourne, brings over nine years of expertise to State Library Victoria. Her unwavering passion lies in fostering safe, equitable, and inclusive spaces for diverse communities. Leah excels in preserving invaluable collections, overseeing rehousing projects, and leading preventive conservation programs. She actively contributes to collection surveys and digitization efforts, all while maintaining preservation materials. As an esteemed alumna of the 2023 Public Libraries Victoria / State Library Victoria Shared Leadership Program, Leah’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in libraries ensures welcoming spaces for all. Her dedication safeguards cultural heritage and promotes library inclusivity, benefiting Melbourne’s community and beyond.