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Advocates for Inclusion

In front of the library entrance at Riverside High School hangs school media coordinator Jenna Wine’s SILS Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) Advocate Certificate. Surrounding it are posters that say “This is a safe space” and “All are welcome here”. The posters let students know that Jenna is creating a space where all can feel welcome. The certificate proves that she has training on how to make that happen.

“Kids notice things. They notice the pins on our lanyards, so having that physical copy of the certificate is also incredibly important. The kids can see that this is a safe place for them,” said Wine.

Jenna graduated from SILS in 2021 with an M.S. in Library Science and the IDEA Advocate Certificate. She learned about the certificate program in her second year at SILS. She realized that she had already completed many of the requirements in her time at SILS because she was interested in the topic and had already helped organize events for the Queer Library and Information Collective (QLIC) during the onset of COVID-19.

“Having already been a part of SILS, finishing the certificate was easy. I went to some interesting events and learned from other people, which is always super beneficial, and I’ve been able to use the things I learned for my job.”

While Jenna found out about the program late in her studies, Matty Johnson, who graduated with an M.S. in Library Science in 2018, knew they wanted to complete this certificate when they came to UNC.

“I did a lot of work on feminist thory when I was an undergraduate, specifically technology’s place in women’s and gender studies, and the certificate allowed me to learn more about that,” said Wine.

They took two of the certificate’s potential academic courses and reflected fondly on both, saying that they were some of their favorite classes at UNC. Matty also noted how important the classes were as they moved into the working world, first as a librarian at UCLA and now as the Director of Research and Instruction at the University of South Florida’s Tampa campus.

“I can’t imagine going into one of my job interviews without the knowledge of information ethics and how to talk about that with students.”

Despite their different entry times into the certificate program, both were able to mold it to allow them to learn about the subjects that were deeply important to them. Current graduate student Andrew Claybrook has taken full advantage of this, as he was inspired to pursue the certificate by the experiences he had as a circulation supervisor in a public library, especially one he had with a deaf patron.

“Every time I thought I understood what it meant to navigate interacting with deaf patrons there’d be a new twist. With most of my other patrons who spoke different languages, I could use Google Translate for words I didn’t know, and I couldn’t do that with this person.”

He credits those experiences for why he was drawn to SILS for graduate school. He wanted to learn to serve as many different types of library patrons as possible. While there is currently no ASL course at UNC, he worked with faculty and now plans to take an ASL course at the University of Oklahoma to complete at least part of the class requirements for the certificate.

While these three individuals had very different experiences in the program, one thing they all had in common was their thankfulness to the SILS faculty and their appreciation for SILS for having this certificate program.

“Having a certificate like this shows that a person is systematically engaging with these ideas [of diversity and inclusion], it’s not just lip service being paid to these concepts,” said Claybrook.

“I like how much structure there is and how the faculty has created opportunities to engage with that work on campus,” he continued. “I hope that UNC looks at what SILS is doing with this program because this model has been extremely helpful for me.”

For a full list of all the requirements and options for the certificate as well as the registration form, visit the certificate page on the SILS website.


By Will Hassell

Communications Student Intern