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2021 SAA Research Forum

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Introduction: In 2012, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) was designated as a Minority-Serving Institution (MSI) in the United States. As of 2019, UNLV serves approximately 26,000 undergraduate students with 31% reporting as Latino, 16% Asian, 8% Black, and 10% as multiracial. The Las Vegas metropolitan area also indicates diverse demographics with 31% of the population reporting as Latino, 11% as Black, and 10% as Asian. UNLV Special Collections and Archives (SCA) serves as an intellectual hub for the interdisciplinary study of Las Vegas, the Southern Nevada region, and the international gambling and gaming industry. Preserving, promoting, and supporting the use of archival collections that tell the story of UNLV, Las Vegas, and Southern Nevada is a core theme of UNLV’s University Libraries strategic plan. In 2020, the presenters conducted an internal audit of their own collections, strategic plans, and programming in order to assess how well SCA is doing to meet this strategic goal. They sought to discover to what extent the collections and programming at SCA reflect the diversity of UNLV’s student body and the greater Las Vegas metropolitan area.

Problem Statement: In a data-driven institution, how can existing archives data be used to advocate for increased resources focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)? As many archives aim to build more diverse collections, equitable practices, and inclusive environments, it can be overwhelming to identify exactly how to begin to move from statements to actions. How can we demonstrate that there is still significant work (collection development, re-processing and re-description, metadata cleanup, digitization priorities, etc.) to do? In conducting this analysis the presenters hope to answer the following query: if our goal is to protect and preserve stories outside of the traditional narrative (white, cisgender, heteronormative), how will we know if we are making objective progress towards that goal? The presenters hope that their research and findings will provide a framework for other archives and special collections to assess their own progress.


Library and Information Science

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