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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble Chats with Ex Libris


October 14, 2020 | 3 min read |

Scott Schuetze, Ex Libris

As part of Ex Libris’ effort to increase awareness and visibility into issues of concern within the library industry to our staff, and across society in general, we recently had the opportunity to host and hear from Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble (Associate Professor, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in the Department of Information Studies) during a company-wide staff meeting. At this special session she focused attention and highlighted the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion for organizations involved with knowledge management and technology.


Dr. Noble’s extensive expertise and reputation on this topic is well-established. Her best-selling book on racist and sexist algorithmic bias in commercial search engines, entitled Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism (NYU Press), which has been widely-reviewed in journals and periodicals. She comes from the field of library information and science, which provided a sound basis and orientation to write her book, conduct her past and current research, and present information that resonated with the Ex Libris staff.


Dr. Noble’s insight during this special team meeting delivered an exceptional understanding of how both data and algorithms can perpetuate social inequality within technology services. Using a mix of examples, that are and aren’t within her book, she spoke at length about how and why we should care about misrepresentation, racism, and sexism, can flourish in knowledge paradigms.


She focused specific attention on the potential negative impacts of automated decision-making systems and their predictive analytics, found in AI (artificial intelligence) and algorithms, detailing how they may encroach upon vulnerable groups of people. Additional emphasis throughout the session was placed on the opportunities in front of organizations, such as Ex Libris, to consider the responsibility of managing and organizing content and designing technology services so they have a transformative impact.


The opportunity to have a compelling chat with Dr. Noble is well-timed as Ex Libris continues to embrace the power of our people and services to stand against bias and inequity. As she highlighted, Ex Libris is in the unique position as both a in the future will continue to use its services to acquire knowledge and seek out information.


Ex Libris will continue to help create a better, more compassionate future, as diversity, inclusion, and equity are core values within our organization. We are committed to strengthening our diverse and inclusive workforce, working with those within our communities, and continuing to create products that serve everyone equitably. We encourage you to learn more about Ex Libris support for diversity, equity, and inclusion.


Additional information about Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble is available at


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