Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The Free Library of Philadelphia is a welcoming and inclusive public space and strongly believes in promoting understanding and community engagement.

All 54 of our libraries provide a safe haven for individuals of all ages and backgrounds, providing homework help, English Language Learning (ELL) classes, supportive job search assistance, and much more. We encourage and host conversations about differences and complex social issues. The library exists to provide opportunities for discussion supported by educational resources, access to a vast array of information, and ideas that transform communities, open minds, and promote inclusion.

A Statement from the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer

August marks the eighth month since the creation of the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer position at the Free Library of Philadelphia. In that time, there has been a lot listening, meetings, and opportunities to delve into the concerns facing the library. Information that was shared and data provided served in the creation of foundations that will inform the work. Staff members from all areas of the library provided commentary, feedback, and recommendations for addressing our needs surrounding the tenants of diversity, equity, inclusion, anti-racism, and social justice.

Highlighted actions to date include:

  • Strategic Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Priorities and Action Plan developed and approved
  • DEI Engagement Opportunities developed
  • The By-Laws, Charge, and Orientation for the Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee (DISC) developed and approved
  • DISC Position Statement on Library-wide Completion of the City of Philadelphia's DEI Training Module approved and disseminated
  • The Library executive staff participated in a workshop titled, The Leadership Imperative: Leaders role in advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. The facilitator was Dr. Jamie Washington of the Washington Consulting Group. This workshop was made possible by a grant from the PA Office of Commonwealth Libraries (through the Department of Education)
  • The Employee Resource Group, Rainbow Connection, advanced the concerns of LGBTQ+ staff and community with relevant materials and resources
  • The internal facing DEI webpage content was updated and has gone live
  • The work of establishing DEI goals and objectives has begun with the Free Library executive staff

The work of DEI at the Free Library marches on. The broad commitment of library staff is the fuel that will drive the work and carry us to the outcomes needed. As Albert Einstein stated so eloquently, In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same. With that, the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion at the Free Library of Philadelphia is an utmost priority and remains at the forefront in all we do.

For additional updates, please read the Free Library's Quarterly Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Reports.

Dr. Guy A. Sims, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer
Dr. Guy A. Sims
Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer
Free Library of Philadelphia August 2021