Goal Two of the RAILS Strategic Plan (2022-2025) is: RAILS models best practices in equity, diversity, accessibility, and inclusion. This goal focuses on three objectives and will be the basis of RAILS' EDI work for the next three years. This pulse page will provide updates on what RAILS is doing, a list of upcoming and recorded EDI events, and EDI-related resources for our members. If you have comments or questions about the issue of equity, diversity, accessibility, and inclusion, please add them to the Comments section at the bottom of this page.

RAILS Initiatives

RAILS Strategic Plan

RAILS Strategic Plan (2022-2025): The RAILS Board approved a new strategic plan in January 2022 that includes a model for best practices in equity, diversity, accessibility and inclusion (under Strategic Goal 2).

  • Objective 1: RAILS will provide leadership in developing and providing resources that will support member libraries' efforts to provide equitable, diverse, and inclusive services.
  • Objective 2: Examine all aspects of RAILS policies, procedures, and core services through an equity lens and make needed improvements.
  • Objective 3: Work with RAILS members of all types to identify and implement ways to diversify library governing bodies and staff to increase representation and better reflect the communities they serve.

New Digital Accessibility in Libraries Pulse Page (May 2024)

To keep libraries informed and compliant with details related to digital accessibility, RAILS has released a new Digital Accessibility in Libraries Pulse Page. This page will be updated frequently with more information on digital accessibility issues, federal laws and guidance, resources for libraries, CE events, and more.

Freedom Lifted

As part of RAILS' ongoing commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) we are offering a new online course to RAILS members: Social Justice in Public Libraries from Freedom Lifted. This course content is relevant and applicable to all library types. Freedom Lifted founder Mia Henry says that the content allows learners to transition “from surface talk about diversity and inclusion to real, honest conversations about justice.”  This asynchronous course is a flexible learning opportunity that is suited for individual learners or a group learning environment. 

EDI Learning Cohort

The current RAILS Strategic Plan addresses our members' expressed need for EDI leadership by including it as one of our four strategic goals. With this in mind, RAILS launched an inaugural equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) learning cohort. Thirty-five RAILS members participated in the cohort, which began in October 2022 and ran through May 2023. Cohort members were selected from libraries across our service area and serve in various roles at their respective libraries. This special learning opportunity engaged participants in a collective discourse on critical EDI issues in a supportive setting and helped them learn together how to navigate the opportunities and challenges in the communities they serve. Contact Joe Filapek, RAILS Associate Executive Director or 630.734.5132 with any questions.

RAILS Board EDI Committee

E-Resources

  • eRead Illinois Axis 360 includes a curated list of racial justice titles with numerous anti-racism bestsellers. eRead Illinois Axis 360 members can access all of the titles in the bestsellers list. The list can also be added to an eRead library's Axis 360 site:
    1. Go to your Axis 360 admin page and login
    2. Navigate to Settings > List Management
    3. Click on the button next to "Hide Disabled Lists"
    4. Switch the lists status button for the Racial Justice list to "Enabled"
    5. The Racial Justice list should now appear on your Axis 360 homepage

EDI Training Grants

To support continuing education (CE) for member library staff throughout our service area, RAILS offers training grants of up to $2,000 for libraries, networking groups, or library consortia.

To qualify, CE events must be made available to all RAILS member libraries and of interest to a wide range of library staff.  In addition to prioritizing geographic diversity and training for multiple library types in evaluating grant applications, RAILS will also prioritize events focused on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.  Funding is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Internal EDI Initiative

RAILS is working with a consultant on an internal staff EDI initiative. We need to examine and make the necessary changes to our own culture so we can authentically work with others on equity, diversity and inclusion. We will share our experiences as they develop via this pulse page.