Mercy Libraries Launch Special Collection to Reflect Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Photo from first community conversations event

Last summer, the Mercy University Libraries received a $10,000 grant from the American Library Association (ALA) to build a special library collection focused on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). The 2023 grants were awarded to only 17 institutions nationwide, with a special focus on libraries that serve marginalized or underrepresented segments of the community.

The DEI Collection at Mercy University will be developed through the efforts and oversight of a committee of library faculty, headed by Moddie Breland, Ed.D., MSLS, assistant professor and director of libraries at Mercy. The resulting collection of digital and physical assets will be available at Mercy’s Westchester, Bronx and Manhattan Campuses.

To shine a spotlight on the new collection and encourage input from the Mercy community, the library hosted the first of a planned series of Community Conversations, designed to promote an interactive discussion of works that might be included. The October conversation featured a new book by Michelle Alexander, “The New Jim Crow,” which explores the mass incarceration of minorities in the U.S.

“It’s important for Mercy, as a Hispanic Serving Institution, to take steps to ensure that our libraries reflect the diversity and inclusive values of our community,” said Breland. “There’s no better way to foster a more inclusive and welcoming environment than by reflecting the ideas and interests of every voice that wants to be heard.”

Breland said that inviting the Mercy community to suggest titles for inclusion is what sets this collection apart. “We want people to share their ideas about materials they feel have an important place in the understanding of diverse cultures and experiences,” he said.

Through an online form, students, faculty, alumni, and staff can suggest books, recordings, and other materials. The selection committee will consider all suggested items, ranging from academic works to popular titles and children’s literature, and rationale for why the book might deserve a place in the DEI Collection at Mercy.

Joi Sampson, Ed.D., Director of Academic Engagement, Equity, and Inclusion who also served on the library planning committee, said, “Working together, we can build a DEI Collection that reflects the full scope of literary diversity, both at Mercy and beyond.”

Breland said he hopes to present future Community Conversations that will continue to showcase materials written by and about diverse individuals, communities, and experiences. “We want to call attention to the DEI Collection and inspire the Mercy community to help build it together,” he said.  “Every person should be able to see themselves in Mercy’s DEI Collection, and we want them to be able to say, ‘I had a hand in building it.”

The members of the DEI event planning committee are: 

  • Jeff Zelaya '23, Mercy University student
  • Miranda Montez, Mercy University assistant professor
  • Allison Murphy, Ph.D., Mercy University assistant professor
  • Yu-Hung Lin, Mercy University assistant professor
  • Ilene Rothschild, Ed.D., Mercy University associate professor
  • Joi Sampson, Ed.D., Mercy University director of academic engagement, equity and inclusion

Suggestions for books, recordings, and other materials to be added to the Mercy University Libraries’ DEI Collection can be submitted to the selection committee at