BCLTA Discussion Starter: Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Today’s racial equity and inclusion efforts must flip
that premise on its head. Instead of trying to change
some people to fit the organization, we must focus on
transforming our organizations to fit all people.

Ben Hecht, Moving Beyond Diversity Toward Racial Equity,
HBR, June 16, 2020.

Every person in Canada—regardless of whom they
love, or how they identify or express their gender— has
the right to live free without fear of discrimination,
violence or exclusion, and to be fully included and
embraced in all facets of Canadian society.

Canadian Human Rights Commission, LGBTQ2I+

Board Discussion

Trustees bring a breadth of experiences, skills, knowledge, and questions to public library board work. Board policies and practices vary across the province and BCLTA is focused on common issues of common concern for board development. We support trustees with the “why” and “how” of governance so that each board can respond with the best “what” for their public library and their community.

Your board chair, your library director, and BCLTA all have a role in helping you find further resources specific to your needs. The BC Public Libraries Branch staff are also available for your questions, particularly those regarding the Library Act. The resources found in this Discussion Starter are just a small sample of what is available. They may not be the best sample. Hopefully they trigger a discussion, open ended and curious questions, a place for safe and non-judgmental learning, and further investigation that leads to change.

Encourage your governance team to stay current with news and events and to explore and share writings and other materials, particularly materials by those people who have experienced systemic barriers to accessing leadership and governance in public libraries. Include those that through their stories, opinions, evidence, and experience may make us uncomfortable with the status-quo of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in public library governance.

See the Discussion Starter on Reconciliation for your board’s discussion regarding reconciliation, decolonization, and indigenization.

Your board’s justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion discussions will be ongoing and might cover a wide range of topics such as:

  • The broader local and library community discussions that are informing the environment of your board work such as anti-racism, LGBTQ/2S+ rights, decolonization, and the many other important aspects of building a just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive organization.
  • The disconnect between diversity and inclusion and how equity is key to ensuring that we are open to changing our board and organizational cultures to being not just diverse, but inclusive.
  • Public library statements, policies, strategic plans, and other board level reports regarding justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.
  • The alignment of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion with public library values such as equitable access and intellectual freedom.
  • The importance of addressing justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in your board succession and recruitment planning.
  • Building a shared understanding among the board and staff of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion and what this means to the community the library serves.
  • Supporting the library director so that they are sucessful with their day-to-day work of managing and overseeing what justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion means to library operations.

BCLTA hosts aa webpage of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion and reconciliation workshop facilitators and consultants in collaboration with the Association of BC Public Library Directors and the BC Library Federations. Access the list of consultants with this link.



BC Provincial Government

Local Government

Consult your community’s Official Community Plan (OCP) or recent program and planning documents for statements regarding inclusivity and diversity and for opportunities for the public library to further the justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion goals of the community.

Discuss who is missing from the OCP and what the public library might do, through its unique mandate and role in the community, to further discussion on justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion and to amplify the voices of those not being heard in your community.

Federation of Canadian Municipalities

Library World

Canadian Federation of Library Associations


American Library Association

Open Shelf, Ontario Library Association

Chris Bourg, Director of Libraries at MIT, and popular speaker on inclusivity, diversity and equitable access in librarianship and technology

Tara Robertson Consulting: Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Governance and Organizational Leadership

Moving Beyond Diversity Toward Racial Equity. Ben Hecht, HBR, June 16, 2020.

The Problem with Resilience. Cyndi Suarez, Nonprofit Quarterly, April 21, 2020.

  • Discusses the challenge of resilience giving preference to the status quo and what that means for embracing equity, diversity, and inclusivity.

The Inclusion Imperative for Boards. Deloitte Insights, April 2, 2019.

  • Concise overview of the role of the board in supporting organizational inclusion.
  • Discusses the “why” and the board’s responsibilities in 5 areas (strategy, governance, talent,
    integrity and performance).

Why Are We Still Struggling with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Nonprofit Governance? Elizabeth A. Castillo, Nonprofit Quarterly, November 20, 2018.

Practical Ideas for Improving Equity and Inclusion at Nonprofits. Emily Teitsworth, Stanford Social Innovation Review, September 13, 2018.

How do we Design Workplaces for Inclusivity and Diversity. Dr. Pragya Agarwal, Forbes, July 19, 2018.


Anti-Racist Organizational Change: Resources & Tools for Nonprofits.

  • CommunityWise Resource Centre Calgary, Alberta, Treaty 7 Territory, 2017.

More to Explore

AMSSA: Strengthening Diversity in BC
Black Lives Matter, Vancouver
Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion
Canadian Civil Liberties Association
Canadian Human Rights Commission
  • Up to date information and resources in the “Key Issues” including:
    • Disability Rights
    • Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
    • Indigenous Rights
    • LGBTQ2I Rights
    • Prisoner Rights
    • Racial, Ethnic & Religious Rights
  • Section on employer obligations and discrimination
Canadian Museum for Human Rights
Canadian Women’s Foundation, Resources for Ending Anti-Black Racism June 1, 2020
Creative BC, Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion: Ensuring program access for all
  • A useful example of an organization making a public commitment to incorporate justice, equity, diversity and inclusion into their work.
Disability Alliance BC
  • Advocacy by and for people with disabilities as well as access to the resources and support needed for ending the systemic barriers throughout society experienced by persons with disabilities.
Inclusion BC
  • A federation that is committed to enhancing the lives and rights of those with intellectual and development disabilities. Includes advocacy campaign updates and learning resources.
Laurier Institution
  • Mission: “We collaborate with partners to ignite collaboration, deepen shared learning, and inspire action around equity, diversity and inclusion.”
  • Website includes podcasts, events, and publications
  • Association of member organizations throughout BC that serve newcomers and immigrants and build inclusive communities
  • Offers diversity and inclusion workshops
National Network for Equitable Library Services (NNELS)
  • Resources such as community guidelines for events and a gender-neutral language sheet and services such as workshops and presentations.
Qmunity, BC’s Queer, Trans and Two-Spirit Resource Centre, Inclusive Spaces Help Everyone Thrive.
Neil Squire
  • Committed to “social inclusion, economic equity, and a productive society that includes people with disabilities and gives them equal opportunity to contribute and participate.”
  • Includes a section on information for employers.
SOGI 123
  • Created in collaboration with the BC Ministry of Education this initiative provides educators and families with support and resources for more inclusive and safe classrooms.
  • SOGI stands for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and the initiative connects educators to proven tools and resources for aligning schools with provincial policies protecting people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
Trans Rights BC
  • Information “relevant to the safety and well-being of trans and gender-diverse individuals and their supportive allies across British Columbia.”
Trans and queer supportive spaces: Equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) resource guide, Simon Fraser University, 2019.
  • Easy to understand graphics for how to start a conversation, address an email or confirm someone’s name with gender neutral language.
  • Other helpful resources include how to build gender-neutral surveys and questionnaires and design inclusive spaces.

BC Public Libraries in Action

Organizations value and assess what they state as important.

Statement on Race and Social Equity, Coquitlam Public Library

Fort St John Public Library Strategic Plan 2019 – 2021, Values include “Equitable Access and Reducing Barriers” and “Diversity”

McBride and District Public Library Strategic Plan 2019 – 2021, Values include “We value inclusion: Ensuring a safe, accessible, and welcoming place where everyone is respected.”

Nelson Public Library Strategic Plan 2017 – 2021, Values include “Universal and Equitable Access”

New Westminster Public Library Strategic Plan 2021 – 2025

  • Values include “We are committed to being an agent for social good, and to working through a lens of anti-oppression, diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism.”
  • Goal 4 of the Strategic Plan is for the library to “Advance and Advocate for Social Justice in Our Organization and in Our Community”

PGPL Statement on Anti-Racism, Prince George Public Library

Surrey Libraries Strategic Plan 2019 – 2023, Strategic Theme: Welcoming and Inclusive Spaces (p. 9)

Surrey Libraries Response to Racism, June 15, 2020

Diversity and Inclusion Statement, Vancouver Public Library

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