Libraries Staff Members Participate In and Give Back to Diversity Programs

Joyce Douglas and Terri Nelson. Photo by Tyler Stabile/Ohio University Libraries.
Joyce Douglas and Terri Nelson. Photo by Tyler Stabile/Ohio University Libraries.

Dumela! This is a greeting that comes from Botswana, but it means much more than “hello”. It is an affirmation that shows you believe in another person and see their potential. This message is taught at the Summer Institute for Diversity Education (SIDE) organized by Dr. Stephanie Sanders of the Ohio University Office for Diversity and Inclusion.

When they aren’t busy getting new books or answering your research questions, the staff of the Ohio University Libraries also find time to participate in activities across campus. Many staff members from units across the Libraries have chosen to be participants in Diversity Essentials, a shorter program that takes place every semester and SIDE, a much more intense and in-depth summer program.

Both of these programs encourage acceptance and tolerance among the Ohio University staff, students and community, and are open to Ohio University staff and community members throughout the county. The participants learn to apply these values to their job and are encouraged to help facilitate sessions in the future as the program grows. After participating in both SIDE and Diversity Essentials, Joyce Douglas, Library Associate and Terri Nelson, Head of Circulation Services, went on to facilitate sessions in the Diversity Essentials program and have organized a standalone session for the library staff. 

The small size of the groups in each program, which contain about 25 people, allows for the participants to have an intimate learning experience. Within each program, the groups first participate in icebreakers to learn about one another. One example of this is the “Diversity Scavenger Hunt.” Each person has a paper with items such as, “Find someone with relatives from this country,” and “Find someone who knows the seven principles of the Kwanzaa.” These tasks allow the group to talk to each other and learn about new concepts.

After these icebreakers, participants become more comfortable around each other and are able to participate in more intense activities later in the program. The last activities at SIDE let participants talk more about their personal experiences, while also encouraging and positively affirming the group. The program does have some intense moments, but the participants are able to feel comfortable while growing.

If you would like more information about either of the programs, you can contact Dr. Stephanie Sanders at the Office of Diversity and Inclusion or check out their website.