Georgia Public Library Service Statement on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility

We are driven to empower libraries to improve the lives of all Georgians. We strive for continual improvement and are guided by the following principles and values. Learn more in our strategic plan.

Georgia Public Library Service recognizes, values, and actively affirms the dignity of those it serves, regardless of heritage, education, beliefs, race, income, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, and physical or mental capabilities. GPLS welcomes and respects the diversity of our patrons and employees, and is committed to equal opportunity in the development of our policies, programs, procedures, and practices.
GPLS recognizes diversity as a core organizational asset that drives innovation. We believe that an inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible workplace enables us to more effectively support our staff, libraries, and the public through:

  • an increased ability to attract talented and diverse employees;
  • an increased ability to retain an excellent team;
  • a respectful, trusting, ethical, understanding, and transformational workplace culture;
  • the fostering of creativity and empathy;
  • greater economic and financial performance;

all of which result in higher productivity and more meaningful impact for Georgia’s libraries.

Inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility (IDEA) are organizational and service imperatives for Georgia Public Library Service, and we aspire to model this commitment through our actions. We join COSLA in acknowledging that past and present inequity exclude many from the wide range of benefits provided by libraries, and commit to eliminating these barriers to library service. GPLS condemns racism and violence in all its forms, and commits to honest reflection and the support of racial equity initiatives in public libraries.

Our Commitment to Our Staff

  • We commit to building, retaining, and sustaining an inclusive, diverse, and equitable workforce;
  • We commit to supporting and empowering all of our staff through development and promotion, as well as through the provision of a holistic approach to personal well-being, including mental health services, continuing education, and financial literacy;
  • We commit to annual IDEA training to support staff in cultivating the self-awareness, sensitivity, and empathy needed to value difference and work toward equity in our offices and beyond;
  • We commit to incorporating equity and social justice initiatives into our strategic and long-term planning.

Our Commitment to Our Libraries

  • We commit to expanding our services and creating equitable access to technology for library workers and staff;
  • We commit to diversifying the state professional collection, with particular emphasis on the inclusion of resources related to IDEA principles and the cultivation of diverse circulating collections;
  • We commit to promoting equity and inclusion in library leadership and convening meaningful conversations about IDEA principles and practices in public libraries;
  • We commit to upholding the principle of equal and free access to unaltered historical information, and to uplifting the records of historically underrepresented communities;
  • We commit to proactively pushing for change in our profession at the state and national levels on policies, procedures, and longstanding practices;
  • We commit to serving as a “town square” for Georgia’s library staff, where all members of the profession can share ideas, discuss challenges, and find fellowship;
  • We commit to incorporating equity and justice initiatives into our strategic and long-term planning and trustee training services.

Our Commitment to the Public

  • We commit to engaging with diverse communities to identify and address public need;
  • We commit to cultivating a sense of belonging for the people and communities we serve;
  • We commit to providing a broad range of resources and services to Georgia’s libraries to support their efforts to better serve diverse communities statewide;
  • We commit to abiding by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) standard to support universal access to all of our online content;
  • We commit to supporting state and local organizations working to end economic, racial, and social disparities;
  • We commit to prioritizing access to primary and archival resources that reflect the history and culture of under-documented or marginalized communities in Georgia;
  • We commit to promoting professional excellence among the library staff that serve the diverse people of Georgia.

Additional Resources for Libraries and Communities

The GPLS IDEA Committee has curated a variety of resources on training, connecting with the community, and policy development. Click here for more: https://idea.georgialibraries.org.

Approved July 1, 2021 by Julie Walker, State Librarian