Library Policies
IDEA Statement

IDEA stands for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access.

Policies > IDEA Statement

You Belong Here

IDEA is the framework for the Library’s mission, our profession as librarians, our community, and the position of libraries as “the cornerstone of democracy.”

We are committed to creating a space that welcomes and respects the uniqueness and diversity of all people. Our mission is to meet individual needs, embrace and support differences, and empower our community through our collection, services, planning, and decisions.

To further these values, we will:

  • Expand access and remove barriers
  • Protect privacy and free speech
  • Foster learning, growth, information literacy, and digital skills
  • Promote representation of a wide array of experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives
  • Support these values internally through policies, hiring, and training


Steps for the Future

What does diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion look like at Berlin-Peck Memorial Library?

Goal: Expand access and remove barriers

  • Pursue ADA compliance in our building, surrounding spaces, and on our website
  • Provide services for patrons who have difficulty entering our building
  • Offer technology, guidance, and training to help bridge the “digital divide”
  • Dismantle policies that create financial barriers to using the library
  • Maintain a collection that includes accessible or adaptable media formats and help patrons access formats not available at our library
  • Take steps to increase patrons’ comfort in using the library and approaching library staff for help or information

Goal: Protect privacy and free speech

  • Create policies that protect the privacy of both patrons and staff
  • Take steps to protect the privacy of patrons using our public computers or other public technology

Goal: Promote learning and growth

  • Empower our communities to identify, find, critically evaluate, apply, and acknowledge information
  • Offer programming that facilitates respectful discussions and increases understanding of diversity in our community and around the world

Goal: Encourage representation

  • Curate a diverse and inclusive collection featuring a wide array of characters, authors, voices, and perspectives
  • Use cataloging language that reflects accurate and respectful language
  • Offer diverse and inclusive programming
  • Foster partnerships with diverse communities in Berlin, embracing the goal of “nothing about us without us”

Goal: Support IDEA internally

  • Identify and dismantle staff policies that create barriers to access, are discriminatory, or otherwise do not support our IDEA values
  • Hold ourselves accountable by routinely seeking feedback from staff
  • Identify and address hiring, retention, and management practices that have disadvantaged individuals from marginalized groups
  • Commit to our own ongoing learning about the ways in which IDEA can be applied to our work
  • Encourage an atmosphere of dignity, empathy, and respect through staff training and development
  • Create annual objectives with measurable goals in support of this diversity statement
  • Ensure that all levels of staff have a voice and are encouraged to speak up about concerns and share ideas
  • Welcome all library board and staff to provide feedback on the library director’s plans and progress


Steps We’ve Taken

What has Berlin-Peck Memorial Library done to advance diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion?

Physical Barriers to Access

  • We provide Homebound Delivery for Berlin-Peck patrons (residents of Berlin, East Berlin, or Kensington) who are temporarily or permanently homebound or disabled. There is no requirement for age, and patrons do not need to disclose medical information or personal information beyond what is needed to set up a normal library card. Homebound patrons may receive their library card by mail.
  • We offer Curbside Pickup for patrons who can drive to the Library but have difficulty entering the building itself. Library staff will walk items to the patron’s car.
    • At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Library expanded Curbside Pickup to allow patrons to pick up items without entering the building.
  • We offer several accommodations for patrons with vision impairment: a Desktop Electronic Magnifier, a portable hands-free magnifier, and reading glasses in various prescription strengths.
  • In May 2018, construction finished on a new elevator connecting the library to the downstairs Community Center, making it possible for patrons to park in the Community Center’s flatter and more accessible parking lot. Because the library was built on a hillside, it can be difficult to enter the building from the other parking locations—especially for patrons who are carrying items or pushing strollers, patrons who have difficulty walking, or when the weather is poor. All patrons are welcome to use this parking lot. When the Community Center is closed, library staff will escort patrons to and from the elevator.
  • In June 2022, Berlin’s Public Works department leveled the bricks outside the library entrance. These bricks were being pushed up by tree roots, creating a tripping hazard.
  • In spring 2022, we began providing courier service for Berlin teachers, allowing them to request books on specific topics which are then delivered to them at the schools.
  • In April 2022, we purchased chairs that comfortably seat patrons up to 800 lbs.

Economic Barriers to Access

  • In 2021, we went “fine free,” removing all overdue fines.
  • In 2021, we removed fees for library card replacement.
  • In December 2022, we began offering 10 free black and white prints per day.
  • We provide the following types of library cards which give access to individuals who do not live in Berlin:
    • Berlin Access Card for patrons without a physical address
    • Berlin Teacher Card for public school teachers who live and/or work in Berlin
    • Student Temporary Card for students in Berlin Public Schools who live outside of Berlin
    • Berlin Business Card for local Berlin business owners
    • Staff Card for Town of Berlin, Board of Education, and Library staff

Bridging the “Digital Divide”

  • In September 2018, we began providing mobile Wi-Fi hotspots, which can be used to access the internet from anywhere within the Sprint network.
  • We offer a quiet study room equipped with a computer and webcam that can be used for videoconferencing.

Learning and Growth

  • We provide access to professional development for staff within and outside the library community.
  • In January of 2022, we began a series of Courageous Conversations programs to help create a dialog about important social issues within the community.
  • In June 2022, in partnership with BEAT (Berlin Equity Action Team), we offered Juneteenth programming for all ages. Juneteenth programming returned in 2023.
  • In March 2022, an ongoing committee was created to develop strategies for increasing IDEA at the library.
  • In October of 2022, we invited Drakes and Burton Consulting to present our first all-staff IDEA training.
  • We have offered programs on identifying misinformation on social media and news sources.
  • In February 2020, in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association and Hartford HealthCare Center for Healthy Aging, we began hosting an ongoing Dementia Caregiver’s support group.
  • In 2022, we began a partnership with Berlin Social Services (“Anchored in Wellness”) to offer monthly programming on a variety of wellness and mental health topics.


Privacy and Free Speech


Definition of Terms

Given the many possible interpretations of words like diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion, we’ve provided the following definitions to clarify how the Library understands these terms.


Accessibility is “an umbrella term for all aspects which influence a person’s ability to function within an environment”.[1] Put another way, accessibility is a measure of how easily a person can participate in an activity.

Accessibility takes many forms in many places. Physical environments, such as dwellings, offices and other buildings, elevators, ramps and sidewalks are an obvious category. Transportation is another category – an example of improved accessibility here is wheelchair-friendly buses. Web and digital environments fall into another grouping, in which enlarged fonts and speak-to-text features can be used to improve accessibility.[2]

  1. Iwarsson, S., & Ståhl, A. (2003). Accessibility, usability and universal design—positioning and definition of concepts describing person-environment relationships. Disability and Rehabilitation, 25(2), 57-66.
  2. “Defining Accessibility.” Accessible University. Accessed January 5, 2023.

Barriers to Access

Barriers to Access are obstacles that make it difficult or impossible to use the library.

Barriers come in many forms, not just physical. They can include the layout of the building and outdoor areas; media formats that are not readable for all people; technologies that cannot be adapted for assistive devices; financial needs; and procedures or policies that make it difficult to use the library.[1]

  1. “Barriers to access.” Indiana University. Accessed May 23, 2022.

Digital Divide

Digital Divide is a term that refers to the barriers that some individuals face in fully participating in the information society. These barriers may include a lack of internet connectivity at home; lack of necessary hardware or software; and lack of skills, knowledge, or means necessary to access digital resources.[1]

  1. “Access to Digital Resources and Services: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights.” American Library Association, July 7, 2006. Accessed May 24, 2022.


Disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. This includes people who have a record of such an impairment, even if they do not currently have a disability. It also includes individuals who…are regarded as having a disability.[1] [2] A condition does not have to be visible or “readily apparent” to be considered a disability. Many conditions that are not readily apparent to the general population still affect major life activities.[3]

  1. “What Does ‘Regarded as’ Having a Disability Mean?” ADA National Network, 5 Jan. 2023,
  2. “What Is the Definition of Disability under the Ada?” ADA National Network, 5 Jan. 2023,
  3. “Definition of a Disability.” Great Plains ADA Center,


Diversity can be defined as the sum of the ways that people are both alike and different. Visible diversity is generally those attributes or characteristics that are external. However, diversity goes beyond the external to internal characteristics that we choose to define as ‘invisible’ diversity. Invisible diversity includes those characteristics and attributes that are not readily seen. When we recognize, value, and embrace diversity, we are recognizing, valuing, and embracing the uniqueness of each individual.[1]

  1. “ODLOS Glossary of Terms”, American Library Association, September 7, 2017. (Accessed January 5, 2023)


Further Reading

Definition of a Disability, Great Plains ADA Center

Defining Diversity, ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom


Equity is not the same as formal equality. Formal equality implies sameness. Equity, on the other hand, assumes difference and takes difference into account to ensure a fair process and, ultimately, a fair (or equitable) outcome. Equity recognizes that some groups were (and are) disadvantaged in accessing educational and employment opportunities and are, therefore, underrepresented or marginalized in many organizations and institutions. The effects of that exclusion often linger systemically within organizational policies, practices, and procedures. Equity, therefore, means increasing diversity by ameliorating conditions of disadvantaged groups.[1]

A visual metaphor for equality and equity. Equality is depicted with three people of different heights standing on one box each, where the shortest person cannot see over the fence. Equity is depicted with the same three people, but the boxes have been redistributed so that everyone can see over the fence.
Image Credit: Interaction Institute for Social Change | Artist: Angus Maguire
  1. “ODLOS Glossary of Terms”, American Library Association, September 7, 2017. (Accessed January 5, 2023)


Inclusion means an environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully; are valued for their distinctive skills, experiences, and perspectives; have equal access to resources and opportunities; and can contribute fully to the organization’s success.[1]

  1. “ODLOS Glossary of Terms”, American Library Association, September 7, 2017. (Accessed January 5, 2023)

“Nothing About Us Without Us”

“Nothing About Us Without Us” is a motto that refers to the active involvement of persons with disabilities in the planning of strategies and policies that affect their lives. It has been used by Disabled Peoples Organizations throughout the years as part of the global movement to achieve the full participation and equalization of opportunities for, by and with persons with disabilities.[1]


Further Information

Drakes and Burton Consulting has provided staff training and consultation on this IDEA Statement.

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