In 2020, the MLA Board of Directors approved a motion by the MLA Diversity and Equity Task Force (2017-2020) to establish what is now the MLA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. During its term, the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force undertook numerous actions consistent with the areas of action outlined in its charge (MLA Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Goal):
- MLA defining documents, including vision, mission, values, and code of ethics statements;
- MLA publications, including the Journal of the Medical Library Association and MLA News;
- MLA programs, including the annual meeting, education, and credentialing;
- formulating position statements, including scope of issues and processes;
- engaging members in a constructive discourse on sensitive issues;
- encouraging a diverse audience to participate in MLA leadership.
Research and Dialog
Members of the task force conducted research on the approach of other library association in the area of diversity and inclusion.
The task force also organized events to engage MLA members in an ongoing conversation on Diversity and Inclusion, including a fishbowl at MLA'18 that comprehensively identified the topics that matter to MLA members.
Statements and Language
The task force submitted a motion to the MLA Board of Directors on inclusive language, for consideration at their May and August 2019 meetings, including:
- MLA Vision statement
- MLA Mission statement
- MLA Values statement
- MLA Code of Ethics statement
- Use of specific language throughout MLA documents (Latinx, gender neutral, under-represented)
- Mx as an additional profile prefix
Annual Meeting Planning
The task force collaborated with the Annual Meeting Innovation Task Force and MLA headquarters, to improve diversity, inclusion and accessibility at MLA Annual Meetings, and to provide clear and complete information on the MLA website and online program. The areas include:
- A statement: "Diversity, equity, and inclusion are the threads that strengthen the fabric of the Medical Library Association"
- Appropriate conduct at MLA meetings
- Accessibility information: access, ASL interpreter services, gender identity, all gender bathrooms, nursing room, Ramadan, wheelchair/scooter
- Diversity in programming: around MLA's seven professional practice areas
- Program accessibility
The task force has collaborated with the MLA Communities Task Force to ensure that recommendations on MLA communities transformation integrate diversity and inclusion at the core.
Diversity and Inclusion Statement for Communities
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are the threads that strengthen the fabric of the Medical Library Association:
- Communities are inclusive for all MLA members seeking a place to exchange ideas and experiences.
- Communities reflect the diversity of MLA member interests.
- Communities are a safe space for members to exchange ideas and experiences.
Fundamental Change to the Design of MLA Communities
Diversity and inclusion are at the core of the decision to combine the current two tiers of MLA communities (Sections and SIGs) into a single tier (Caucuses) and to eliminate the cost for MLA members to join communities.
The ability for any caucus to collaborate in advancing the seven practice areas of our profession (through the creation of the seven domain hubs) is an important contributor to diversity and inclusion that is meant to produce better outcomes.
The MLA Communities Transformation Team has launched a dialog for each of the seven Domain Hubs, with all MLA communities who opted to participate. This dialog, at its early stage, is already proving diverse and enriching.
Diversity and Inclusion present in Domain Hubs
The task force specifically did not recommend to create a Domain Hub that would encompass affinity groups based on identity. Instead, it supported the Domain Hub design aligned to health information professional practices, and encouraged all affinity groups to broadly participate.
Two Domain Hubs include areas of practice that are important to diversity and inclusion:
- Professionalism and Leadership: all effective leadership needs to include ethics, diversity, inclusion and equity as core values and strategies
- Global Health and Health Equity: in the area of equity in access to health information
The task force started a dialog with members on establishing a vision for the future allocation of scholarships. This dialog is in its beginning stage (no recommendations at this time). Areas of thought are:
- Centralized vs. community funding and decision for awards
- Funding priorities (e.g. education, annual meeting, travel, recognitions)
- Fundee priorities (e.g. need, identity, role, etc.)
- Governance (who does what)
The task force started a dialog with members on committee appointments.This dialog is in its beginning stage (no recommendations at this time). Areas of thought are:
- Alternatives to committees in creating collaboration spaces for members or communities to create
- Alternatives to current committee appointment process
- Collection of profile information (currently not being asked), to affect committee appointments
In 2019, MLA ensured that all members 272 member who applied to volunteer were appointed to a committee or jury. This is a 63% increase since 2015, and a 15% since the prior year (2018), likely a result of a positive culture change at MLA.
The task force launched the #MLADiversity Twitter hashtag, and has posted articles (or encouraged others to post) on diversity and inclusion activities and topics: