Abigail Chabitnoy


The Libraries recently added resources that address the needs of the community in deepening our understanding of the challenges in achieving justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) in our lives. This collection is available to the campus community through a new online platform for the Libraries, OverDrive. (OverDrive may be familiar to many as the online ebook and audiobook catalog available from their local public libraries on the Libby app.)

Library staff members on the OverDrive JEDI Collections Group selected the initial offerings, choosing works that speak to the realities of being minoritized or marginalized, whether in race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, mental health, and more. It also offers works that provide guidance, advice, and practical actions to address iniquities both in workplaces and in people’s lives. The group drew on the expertise available across campus, such as the UMass Office of Equity and Inclusion, the UMass Stonewall Center, and the UMass JEDI Collaborative, to inform choices.

“Our selection takes a holistic approach to information on how we may all integrate JEDI into our lives, our work, and our recreation,” wrote group members Isabel Espinal, humanities research services librarian; Michael Mercurio, executive assistant to the dean of university libraries; Deborah Place, borrowing specialist; and Melanie Radik, science and engineering librarian. “Inclusion of popular works speaks to representation: It is important for people to see themselves in genres and stories that were once dominated, or still are dominated, by the majority. We intend this collection to encompass accessible content that sparks interest across the community, as well as scholarly works that address the teaching, research, and workplace goals of the university.”

The collection supplements ongoing efforts. All Library selectors are charged with selecting books in their fields using a JEDI lens. The Libraries continuously collect in support of communities and academic fields such as African Studies, Afro-American Studies, Latin American, Caribbean & Latinx Studies, East Asian Studies, Judaic & Near Eastern Studies, Native American & Indigenous Studies, Spanish & Portuguese Studies, and Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies. The Libraries also have assigned liaisons to groups such as Disability Services, the Stonewall Center, and the Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success (CMASS).

Writing the Next Chapter

Library Authors Contribute to Book on Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Libraries

Two teams of UMass Amherst Libraries authors contributed Chapter 1 and Chapter 9 of the forthcoming book, Perspectives on Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Libraries, edited by Nandita Mani, PhD, Dean of University Libraries, and published by IGI-Global.

Librarians Isabel Espinal, Kate Freedman, Anne Graham, and Maria Rios wrote Chapter 1 on a case study of a program to support library staff who identify as Black, Indigenous, and Persons of Color (BIPOC) using a historical lens, and the spirit of W. E. B. Du Bois as a through-line to contextualize the Libraries’ JEDI initiatives. Chapter 9, co-authored by Carol Connare, Jennifer Friedman, Adam Holmes, Nandita Mani, and Michael Mercurio, addresses why the Libraries have made JEDI a core component of its mission to embody a holistic “One Library” philosophy.

book coverPerspectives on Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Libraries examines how JEDI initiatives and actions have been incorporated into all aspects of librarianship and various types of libraries. The book serves as a collection of exemplary cases across all settings of librarianship to showcase how this work is being implemented and to provide commentary on implications and future opportunities for growth. Covering key topics such as community, ethics, and inclusive spaces, this premier reference source is ideal for administrators, policymakers, academicians, researchers, scholars, practitioners, librarians, instructors, and students.

Both chapters will be available as open educational resources (OERs) in recognition that OERs contribute directly to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion by eliminating traditional barriers to both publication and access, enabling free generation and dissemination of information.

Indigenous Poetry and Poetics

Abigail Chabitnoy
Abigail Chabitnoy

The Libraries have received a mini grant of $5,000, drawn from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant awarded to Five Colleges, Inc., under the name “Gathering at the Crossroads: Building Native American and Indigenous Studies at the Five College Consortium.” The terms of the mini grant stipulate that the funds be used to purchase books or other resources to support a specific faculty member whose work is rooted in or related to Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS).

The faculty member identified for this grant support is Abigail Chabitnoy, an award-winning poet and assistant professor in the MFA Program for Poets & Writers. Chabitnoy is a Koniag descendant and member of the Tangirnaq Native Village in Kodiak, Alaska, and is the author of In the Current Where Drowning Is Beautiful (Wesleyan, 2022), How to Dress a Fish (Wesleyan, 2019; winner of the 2020 Colorado Book Award for Poetry), and the illustrated chapbook Converging Lines of Light (Flower Press, 2020). Following the announcement of the awarding of the grant, Professor Chabitnoy met with Nandita S. Mani, Dean of University Libraries; Isabel Espinal, area studies librarian for NAIS; Kat Berry, head of Information Resources Management; and Michael Mercurio, executive assistant to the dean, to begin thinking through the possibilities for using the grant funding. In keeping with her focus on Indigenous poetry and poetics, Professor Chabitnoy will purchase poetry collections and craft books by Native American and Indigenous writers and practitioners to enhance the Five College holdings on these subjects.

Below is a poem by Abigail Chabitnoy, published in the latest issue of Paperbark Magazine, which is co-sponsored by the Libraries, and made possible by generous donors to the Libraries’ Sustainability Fund.