Identifying diversity, equity, and inclusion enhancement opportunities through an online mixed methods library survey

J Med Libr Assoc. 2022 Oct 1;110(4):438-448. doi: 10.5195/jmla.2022.1436.


Objective: A mixed methods survey was conducted at a health sciences library to assess patrons' perceptions of the library's digital and physical environments in relation to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

Methods: Developed by the library's DEI Team and preceded by a pilot assessment, the survey posed 17 Likert Scale questions and 2 free-text response questions on the topics of belonging, inclusivity, equitability, emotional and physical safety, and commitment to DEI. The survey was created in Qualtrics, pilot tested, and launched in February 2020 for approximately 12 weeks.

Results: Objective question responses were received from 101 individuals, with 24 open-ended responses. The quantitative findings showed largely positive perceptions of the DEI climate. Questions about feeling welcome and feeling physically safe were among those with the highest responses. The three lower-scoring questions indicate areas for improvement, including services for people whose native language is not English, for individuals with disabilities, and for families. The qualitative findings indicate the library's strengths include its exhibitions, welcoming atmosphere, and LGBTQ+ inclusivity initiatives. In contrast, opportunities for enhancement encompass non-English language resources, website updates, and accessibility to some physical spaces.

Conclusion: The DEI Team is using the online survey data to enhance library services, staffing, programming, policies, and spaces. These improvements include looking into providing a space for patrons with families, expanding services for individuals whose first language is not English, assessing library accessibility for people with physical disabilities, and enhancing the physical space with quiet areas, improved lighting, and meditation spaces. Employee DEI training is ongoing, using results from a training needs survey to identify knowledge gaps. The library has a history of successful partnerships with campus entities, which will help the DEI Team to move forward with their work.

Keywords: Diversity; equity; health science libraries; inclusion; medical libraries; mixed methods; online surveys.

MeSH terms

  • Disabled Persons*
  • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion*
  • Humans
  • Library Surveys
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires