Cultural Diversity

As the 20th century neared an end, Illinois’ population had significant percentages of African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Asian-Americans, and other cultures. The State Library recognized the need for diversity in Illinois librarianship. With a growing number of non-English speaking households, it was clear that standard library programs of the past would no longer work. As a result, the State Library’s Diversity Program was launched in 2003 to provide equity in library programs, events, and activities for the wide array of non-English cultures in the state. Illinois libraries were assisted in seeking out and serving diverse populations through cultural and heritage programs and collections. One example of the work of the Diversity Program was the 2004 Human Rights Video Project Grant, awarded by National Video Resources and the American Library Association. The grant allowed for a collection of 12 human rights videos that discussed current issues of minorities and people of color worldwide. Module programs were developed by the State Library from these videos, which were available on loan to all Illinois libraries.  Over 3,000 people attend Diversity Program offerings each year. In 2005, the State Library participated in a Spanish-language library outreach program funded by the Gates Foundation to provide training for Illinois librarians to serve Spanish-speaking residents and increase awareness of library services available to them.998