Part of our mission is to be:
“…an open, trusted and welcoming home for research and discovery in the life sciences, agriculture, applied social sciences and human ecology. As a New York State land-grant library, we actively support the needs of all who seek knowledge and foster the open exchange of diverse ideas to improve the lives of people everywhere.”
To carry out our mission, we accept our responsibility to further social justice by providing equitable access to information, facilitating the creation of new knowledge, and preserving our history so that we may continue to learn from it. We are committed to recognizing and addressing the history of systemic bias and inequity in libraries and in librarianship, including our collections, spaces, services, and recruitment practices.
Instruction Initiatives and Student Support
Mann Instruction Program
Mann Library has been actively working to build an impactful Critical Information Literacy Instruction Program rooted in critical and deliberative pedagogy that helps equip undergraduate students with the information skills needed to be responsible digital citizens. Three recrafted positions in the department: Emerging Literacies Instruction Support Specialist, Data Literacy Librarian, and Digital Literacy Librarian focus on inclusive learning technologies, data-driven sense-making, and underrepresented digital collections.
Personal Librarian Program
Multiple Mann Library staff members are participants in the Cornell University Library Personal Librarian Program which first launched in September 2020. The Personal Librarian Program is offered to incoming first-year undergraduates who identify as first generation, low income (FGLI) students. Library staff members are assigned a group of FGLI students to reach out to via e-mail throughout the academic year and serve as a personal point of contact for these students, providing extra assistance navigating the complexities of a university research library.
Collaboration with Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives (OADI)
Mann Library staff have worked closely with OADI, developing orientations to library resources, providing office hours for student consultations, giving various presentations to incoming students and the McNair Scholars, and attending the “Tuesday Lunches” series.
Partnership with West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WAACI)
As a partner with WACCI, Cornell University’s Mann Library provides research support and services for graduate students enrolled in the WACCI program. In addition to onsite training, we provide research help, access to resources through Interlibrary Loan, and help with managing information and citations.
Farmworker Service Directory
Mann’s geospatial librarian worked with the Cornell Farmworker Program to develop an interactive map and directory of resources in New York related to housing, banking, legal assistance, education, job training, health services and more. Farmworkers are among the most vulnerable populations in New York. Immigration status and language barriers can make it difficult for them to access services commonly taken for granted by others. This bilingual website can also be viewed in Spanish.
Mann Librarians have contributed to research guides that compile resources to assist instructors with teaching diverse populations:
Hiring, Training, and Development
Hiring and Recruitment
- Mann shares a commitment to increase the hiring pipeline of qualified, talented individuals and our Early Career Residency position is a 3-year opportunity for librarians from historically marginalized identities to work alongside our talented staff and gain valuable experience and support, laying the foundation for a successful career ahead.
- We have adjusted our job postings and hiring practices to attract a diverse pool of candidates and make the interview process as unbiased and welcoming to a diverse candidate pool as possible.
Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging Council (DIB)
Mann staff members contribute to the Library’s DIB Council. DIB Council provides leadership in diversity, equity, and inclusion for Cornell University Library staff through program creation, dissemination of information, and evaluation of existing library programs and structures. DIB Council strives to make the library a more inclusive place for all people through staff development, communication with administration, and resource creation. DIB Council members also collaborate with other Library stakeholders will ensure that diversity, equity, and inclusion are considered at all decision-making levels.
Equity & Empowerment Reading Group
The Equity & Empowerment Reading Group is an informal reading group, open to all library staff, with the goal of creating a more inclusive workplace through shared understanding and education. Colleagues from across the library work together to better understand how libraries and library staff are impacted by structural forces such as racism, sexism, and related injustices. Every other month, the organizers share a selection of readings and discussion prompts on a particular theme, and then meet with interested staff to discuss how we can make meaningful change in the workplace.
Leaders for Diversity and Inclusion
Mann Library participates alongside academic departments and programs within the College of Arts and Sciences (CALS) in a new initiative to create Leaders for Diversity and Inclusion (LDIs). LDI work has been centered most recently on hiring practices and strategic planning initiatives for diversity and inclusion. As part of their work, the LDIs led CALS faculty reading groups of How to be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi in the Fall 2020 semester.
Evidence Synthesis Institute
The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)-funded Evidence Synthesis Institute is a partnership between University of Minnesota, Cornell University, and Carnegie Mellon University, providing 6 intensive institutes for American library staff supporting evidence synthesis across disciplines over the course of 3 years. Institute instructors are committed to inviting and welcoming librarians representing diverse organizations, backgrounds, and experiences to participate in in the institute. By charging no tuition and covering all transportation, food, and lodging costs, these opportunities are available with no need for applicants to provide additional personal or institutional funds.
Information Training and Outreach Centre for Africa (ITOCA)
Cornell University Library’s Evidence Synthesis service has partnered with the Information Training and Outreach Centre for Africa (ITOCA) to develop training and mentorship opportunities for African librarians. The trainings, modeled on the IMLS-funded Evidence Synthesis Institute above, will be offered in the spring of 2022 and 2023.
Collaboration with Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL)
Cornell University is a member of BHL with Mann Library as its most active contributor to the collection. In September 2021, BHL adopted an Acknowledgement of Harmful Content statement which acknowledges the existence of harmful content in many biodiversity science publications and original materials included in its collection. The same page also includes an FAQ describing BHL’s collection management philosophy regarding harmful content and its context in the ongoing history of science.
Collection Development Task Force on Anti-Racism and Just & Equitable Futures
The Cornell University Library’s Collection Development Task Force on Anti-Racism and Just & Equitable Futures, with some Mann Librarian contributors, has drafted a report that provides vision and recommendations for actionable commitment to anti-racism when selecting the content, authorship, and sources of materials for the Cornell University Library Collection. In addition, the report includes a proposed amendment to CUL’s collection development principles that acknowledges and redresses omissions of bias, exclusion, and oppression reflected in library materials, thus supporting research, and teaching that critically examines unjust structures, while also providing a sensitive content statement.
A patron inquiry in 2017 led to the rediscovery of a rare and important historical collection of African American agricultural history held at Mann Library called the Modern Farmer. The Modern Farmer was a serial publication, created by the National Federation of Colored Farmers from 1929-1949 for African American farmers in the south and Midwest. Mann Library has the only known full run physical copy of this publication and digitized the collection in 2019.
Services and Spaces
Elimination of Late Fees
As of July 1, 2021, all Cornell libraries have permanently eliminated late fees for most overdue materials. According to a 2019 study by the Financial Justice Project and San Francisco Public Library, it was found that “[o]verdue fines restrict access and exacerbate inequality by disproportionately affecting low-income and racial-minority communities, create conflict between patrons and the library, require an inefficient use of staff time, and do not consistently ensure borrowed materials end up back on library shelves.” The American Library Association also passed a resolution in 2019 in support of this position, saying the “imposition of monetary library fines creates a barrier to the provision of library and information services.” Mann Library is enthusiastic about joining other academic libraries across the country in this effort to improve affordability for our users and further break down barriers to library use.
During the pandemic, Mann became one of several Cornell libraries to implement a contactless pickup service for our patrons that enables them to borrow materials from our collections without having to find and retrieve them in our stacks or check them out at our busy help desk. For our local community patrons, we also extended this service to include curbside delivery while access to our buildings remained limited. We have continued to offer contactless pickup even as campus as reopened, because it is not only convenient, but also safe and accessible for patrons with disabilities or who may be immunocompromised.
HathiTrust Equitable Access Program
In participation with HathiTrust, Cornell University Library can provide equitable access for eligible patrons with print disabilities to items within the HathiTrust Digital Library. Access is accomplished through a library proxy. Eligible patrons wishing to use this service may refer to this step-by-step guide (PDF) for instructions. Contact CUL proxies through CUL-HTProxy-L@cornell.edu.
- Mann has collaborated with the Cornell Office of Spirituality and Meaning-Making to create an interfaith serenity room at the library that can be used by students for meditation, prayer, or quiet contemplation.
- Mann Library has a lactation room on the 2nd floor of the library for pumping and/or breastfeeding. Storage lockers and a small refrigerator are available. No reservation necessary – please visit the help desk to request the room key.
All library websites and digital content, including research guides and video recordings, meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA requirements to make web content more accessible.