Bridge Building, Intersectionality and Inclusion
Addressing equity issues in our communities with a results-based approach can be challenging and overwhelming. Where does an organization even start? This was the problem faced by Los Angeles County Public Library (LACPL) leadership. LA County is one of the largest and most diverse jurisdictions in the country and faces daily issues with race inequity, homelessness, immigration struggles and more. With 87 libraries, LACPL is strongly positioned in its communities, but wanted to enhance efforts to make a lasting impression on customers' quality of life. To accomplish this goal, the iCount @ the Library initiative was created. iCount: Removing Barriers to Equity @ Your Library is Los Angeles County Public Library's innovative service model that ensures LACPL is making a conscious effort to design services and programs that address the needs of the diverse community it serves, which includes customers of different age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, socio-economic status, physical ability, nationality, legal status and more. iCount reduces barriers to access and engages all levels of staff to be part of the solution by guiding them through the process of creating Library Equity Action Plans (LEAPs) for each of their communities. For the past two years, LACPL staff have participated in an annual iCount training to educate them on challenges faced by underserved populations, and to increase their understanding of topics such as implicit bias. Supervisors also learn how to facilitate discussions in each of their branch libraries on these different equity issues, then work together to develop and implement their LEAP. The iCount initiative empowers staff to become more aware of key social issues in their local communities. They learn to identify areas of inequity and become more sensitive to customers’ unique needs, purposefully designing programs that provide localized solutions. Participants at this workshop will receive a copy of the equity tool to use. They will be walked through the iCount toolkit, including the process of leading staff discussions around equity and developing a community-responsive Library Equity Action Plan. Participants will also hear about the actual LEAPs developed by libraries to use as inspiration in their own organizations.