MU School of Health Professions introduces traveling diversity library

The collection of books and movies will be moved into a different faculty member’s office every few months.

MU’s School of Health Professions created a traveling library this summer, in collaboration with the dean’s Ad Hoc Committee on Diversity and Inclusion. The library focuses on educating staff and faculty about unique issues their students may be facing regarding race, religion, sexual orientation, social class or disabilities, associate clinical professor Dr. Kristin Flynn Peters said.

“[The library] really is designed for faculty and staff for continuing their education,” Flynn Peters said. “The idea was for our learning and our education because the students were saying, ‘It’s not my duty to teach the faculty how to be more respectful and more understanding of race or racism. Go educate yourself.’ This bookcase is a response to our duty to be better educated regarding diversity and inclusion.”

Other initiatives the School of Health Professions has created to help encourage inclusivity and diversity include online resources, speakers and workshops.

The library will move locations every few months so different departments of faculty and staff get to use its materials and benefit from the education on diversity and inclusion. It currently resides in Gina Scavone’s office in Lewis Hall 514.

“At the moment, we’re planning on having the traveling bookcase for as long as there’s interest,” said Stephanie Reid-Arndt, associate dean for academic affairs of the School of Health Professions. “We just want to make sure that everybody has easy access to the books and videos.”

There are unique advantages to having the library travel as opposed to assigning it a permanent location, Flynn Peters said.

“It’s a traveling library. Part of that is because we don’t have a lot of extra space here,” Flynn Peters said. “Where are we going to put a bookcase here and keep it safe?”

So far, the library has been well received by the staff and faculty members that have accessed its resources.

“I think our faculty are very interested in this,” Reid-Arndt said. “A lot of our faculty have brought in their own suggestions about materials that we should have for the library, and so I think it’s nice to have this kind of central place to have the materials available so people know their suggestions get shared with other people.”

The library includes book and movie titles such as The Glass Castle, Esperanza Rising, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Slavery by Another Name and When God Was a Woman.

When passing the library to another department, the previous caretakers will put on a short presentation explaining which books and films they found the most impactful and educational.

“[This library] will just be another way to build a community around our goals of having a more inclusive environment,” Reid-Arndt said.

Edited by Olivia Garrett | ogarrett@themaneater.com

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