UNC Charlotte’s J. Murrey Atkins Library has received the 2024 Library Excellence in Access and Diversity Award from Insight Into Diversity magazine. The LEAD Award honors academic libraries’ programs and initiatives that encourage and support diversity, equity and inclusion across their campuses. These include, but are not limited to, research, technology, accessibility, exhibitions and community outreach.
Atkins Library will be featured in the March issue of the publication and is one of 56 institutions, and one of only two in North Carolina, to receive the award.
“Atkins embraces and supports the spectrum of human and social identities and strives to create and maintain equity for all employees and users,” said Denelle Eads, Atkins’ diversity coordinator. “We are intentional in our programming, collections, partnerships, events and continuous improvement efforts in order to create a safe and supportive environment that honors the library’s diverse constituencies and employees.”
One effort, the Black Student Experience Study, serves as a tool for the library to best serve and meet the needs of UNC Charlotte’s growing Black student population. Another study focuses on wide-ranging issues around accessibility. The library’s 2022-25 Accessibility Plan was developed with input from students and library employees, along with consultation with UNC Charlotte's Office of Disability Services, considering the needs of library users as well as training requirements library staff need to best serve them.
Frequent Popular Reading books displays – prominently featured on the first floor of the library's main entrance – capture the culture, celebrations, heritage and history of Charlotte’s diverse community. Each month, the Atkins Library's Diversity View Subcommittee of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee highlights significant heritage and cultural celebrations that educate library users on important events taking place.
Atkins Library nurtures collaborative partnerships with local community organizations, such as the Levine Museum of the New South and the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture, to co-sponsor film screenings and panel discussions focused on past and present issues impacting the greater Charlotte community.
“We are excited that Atkins Library was nationally recognized for its programs and initiatives that encourage and support diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Stephen Weiter, interim dean of Atkins Library. “The award illustrates Atkins’ commitment to cultivating an inclusive environment where everyone feels welcome, and differences are valued and respected.”
This is one of several recent national awards Charlotte has received for its outstanding commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. For the past two years, the University has received INSIGHT Into Diversity’s Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award.
Read more about Atkins Library’s DEI efforts.