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University of Maryland Libraries receives 2024 Library Excellence in Access and Diversity (LEAD) Award

Award from Insight Into Diversity magazine brings national recognition to UMD Libraries’ commitment to diversity and inclusion.

LEAD award seal

The University of Maryland Libraries has been named a recipient of the Library Excellence in Access and Diversity (LEAD) Award from Insight Into Diversity magazine. The LEAD Award honors academic libraries that encourage and support diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) across their campuses in areas including research, technology, accessibility, exhibitions and community outreach.    

UMD Libraries was selected from more than 150 applicants to be part of an inaugural cohort of 56 institutional awardees and was recognized for incorporating DEI principles and objectives into its organizational strategies and operational areas. In its “Living Our Values” strategic plan, the Libraries strives for inclusive excellence and accessibility in all of its programs, services, collections and spaces, and to address DEI in its professional development and training for librarians and staff.

“This national recognition affirms the dedication of our library faculty and staff to living our values of diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility, and the meaningful progress we are making to advance our goals, which will benefit our entire campus and the broader community,” said Adriene Lim, dean of Libraries.

In 2021, the Libraries invested in a new DEI officer position to further its efforts related to inclusive excellence. Nneka Chisholm, the Libraries’ inaugural DEI officer, serves as a liaison between the Libraries and campus diversity initiatives, responds to DEI issues, advocates for underrepresented groups, and collaborates with faculty and staff in the libraries to advance the libraries’ values of equity and inclusion.

“Libraries are often considered the lifeblood of research and the cornerstone of community at a research institution. Given this critical role at the intersection of academics and social life, libraries are perfectly poised to lead the way on DEI,” said Chisholm. “This award is a testament to the traction our efforts are getting on campus, and we thank our colleagues who encouraged us to apply for this recognition.”

An active member of the Library Accessibility Alliance, founded by and sponsored by the Big Ten Academic Alliance, the Libraries prioritizes accessibility in both physical and virtual environments and works closely with the campus Accessibility and Disability Service and the President’s Commission on Disability Issues to evaluate and adopt new accessibility policies and practices for its facilities, programs, services, resources, and events. Work is underway to transcribe a curated collection of video materials for audio and closed captioning.

The Libraries is also dedicated to advancing diversity and inclusion within the profession of librarianship itself. The newly established Fisher Family Library Faculty Fellows for Inclusive Excellence program will provide valuable experience and mentorship for two early-career librarians with diverse backgrounds. The fellows will serve as UMD library faculty members for two years, helping them develop a sense of belonging in the field and supporting them as they build their professional networks and launch their careers. Recruitment for the first two fellows begins in January.

In the Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives group, curators and staff intentionally build archival collections representing and recognizing marginalized communities, including the American Labor Movement collection, which links the struggles for equal rights across diverse communities including people of color, women, immigrants and the LGBTQ+ community. The Libraries is a leader of The 1856 Project, the university’s chapter of Universities Studying Slavery, a multi-institutional and international consortium dedicated to sharing best practices for reckoning with the role that human bondage has played in establishing and sustaining their institutions, as well as of Project STAND. Project STAND (STudent Activism Now Documented) concentrates on documenting, through both analog and digital primary sources, the activities of student groups representing the concerns of historically marginalized communities.

The Libraries also has an Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) Committee, a team of staff and faculty librarians co-led by the DEI officer that plans cultural workshops, events, training programs, traveling exhibits and a wide range of heritage month celebrations including the annual Black History Month Read-a-Thon and last year’s Drag Storytime.

“We know that many academic libraries are not always recognized for their dedication to diversity, inclusion and access,” said Lenore Pearlstein, owner and publisher of Insight Into Diversity magazine. “We are proud to honor these college and university libraries as role models for other institutions of higher education.”

UMD Libraries will be featured, along with the 55 other recipients, in the March 2024 issue of Insight Into Diversity magazine. For more information about the 2024 Library Excellence in Access and Diversity (LEAD) Award, visit

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