The following post was authored by Michelle Peralta, Resident Archivist for Yale Special Collections, Manuscripts and Archives.
During the past several months, staff in Manuscripts and Archives met to discuss our responsibility to address bias and discrimination in our work and workplace. After several lengthy discussions with the entire department, we developed the following Statement of Affirmation. It outlines our commitment to implementing more equitable policies and procedures, remediating prior practices and deepening our understanding of diversity, equity, inclusion issues as they relate to libraries and archives.
In creating our statement, we drew inspiration and guidance from various sources including the Archives for Black Lives in Philadelphia and the Alabama Department of Archives and History, as well as the Society of American Archivists.
Our Statement of Affirmation is included on the departmental blog but will also live on our department homepage as a first step in our efforts to improve transparency and communicate more broadly the ways in which we are carrying out this work.
Statement of Affirmation
Manuscripts and Archives (MSSA) affirms our commitment to adhering to the Yale University Library community values and to addressing bias and discrimination in our collections, services, spaces, and workplace.
- In doing this work, we acknowledge the following:
Archives and archivists are not neutral. Archives exist within systems that have traditionally privileged and welcomed narratives of the wealthy and powerful, particularly cisgender, heterosexual white men, and have often perpetuated practices that marginalize, suppress, and harm those with other perspectives and experiences.
- We cannot fully understand the experience of marginalized communities.
- We are not experts in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work. This work, however, is an ongoing departmental priority and deserves our dedication, engagement, and willingness to act and to listen.
- We recognize our institutional and individual privileges as well as our responsibility to collaborate with local and professional communities in addressing DEI issues.
Moving forward, we strive to do the following:
- Embed our commitment to address DEI issues in our strategic planning, department and unit work plans, and individual goals.
- Embrace transparency in our work so we can be held accountable internally and externally.
- Address biases in our services, collection development and stewardship, descriptive practices, spaces, and workplace.
- Cultivate a safe workplace that empowers staff members and encourages open discussion.
- Educate ourselves and those around us on DEI issues, recognizing the various experiences and engagement of staff with DEI work.
- Assess progress on our efforts at least bi-annually.