UNC Charlotte’s J. Murrey Atkins Library has been spotlighted for its outstanding commitment to fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion, earning the prestigious 2024 Library Excellence in Access and Diversity (LEAD) Award from Insight Into Diversity magazine. The accolade recognizes the significant strides academic libraries make in promoting diverse, equitable, and inclusive practices through various initiatives ranging from research and technology to community outreach and exhibitions.
Set to grace the March issue of Insight Into Diversity, Atkins Library stands out as one of only 56 institutions nationwide, and notably one of just two in North Carolina, to clinch this honor.
Denelle Eads, Atkins’ diversity coordinator, highlighted the library’s proactive stance on inclusivity, stating, “Atkins embraces and supports the spectrum of human and social identities and strives to create and maintain equity for all employees and users.” She further emphasized the library’s dedication to fostering a welcoming and supportive atmosphere through deliberate efforts in programming, collections, events, and continuous improvement.
Key initiatives like the Black Student Experience Study exemplify Atkins’ commitment to addressing the needs of UNC Charlotte’s growing Black student demographic. Additionally, the library’s focus extends to accessibility, with a comprehensive 2022-25 Accessibility Plan developed in collaboration with the campus community and the Office of Disability Services.
The library also celebrates the rich diversity of Charlotte’s community through its Popular Reading books displays and educational programs that highlight significant cultural and heritage celebrations. Collaborations with local organizations such as the Levine Museum of the New South and the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture further underscore Atkins Library’s role in sparking dialogues on societal issues.
Interim Dean Stephen Weiter expressed pride in the national recognition, saying, “The award illustrates Atkins’ commitment to cultivating an inclusive environment where everyone feels welcome, and differences are valued and respected.”
This LEAD Award adds to a growing list of accolades for Charlotte, reflecting its broader commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, including receiving INSIGHT Into Diversity’s Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award for two consecutive years.