Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Libraries: JJ Pionke, librarian at University of Illinois

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Libraries are for everyone. Inclusion and accessibility are at the very heart of libraries' mission, and librarians are playing an essential role in facilitating the full participation of people with disabilities in society.

No one exemplifies this mission more than JJ Pionke, Applied Health Sciences Librarian at the University Library of the University of Illinois.  We recently spoke with him about the value of embedding the principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion into his work and learned more about projects he’s undertaken, including the development of a series of disability libguides, the creation of reflection rooms for students, and his work with special populations, like veterans.

As a disability rights advocate, he champions accessibility and inclusion in his campus library because, to him, it’s personal. As someone who identifies as disabled as well as transgender, JJ says it’s natural to take up this work: “That's how I got into this. I've always been in it, but I wanted to go forward and try to make my new home, librarianship, into a space that I really wanted to be in. And a space that really reflected who I am and not just the values of librarianship as a whole, or the values that I learned about in school, but about me. Because it is my community.”

Librarians, check out JJ Pionke's Disability LibGuides and visit the ALA website to learn more about equity, diversity, and inclusion in libraries.