Catherine Finch, WHELF EDI Group Chair has written the following summary of Excluded Voices 2023:


WHELF EDI group hosted the 2023 Excluded Voices (EV23) conference online over two days. With a Wales-focused agenda, our speakers and presenters covered many key themes relating to improving diversity, community engagement and participation to education.

The first day had a strong theme of community engagement and partnership in Wales. Usha Ladwa-Thomas discussed collaborating with the Welsh community in developing an effective anti-racism policy in Wales. The amazing work done by volunteers at The Egypt Centre in Swansea, showed how museums can install an aspirational sense of life-long purpose and learning. Wendy Goodridge showcased their work and achievements with a real sense of pride.

Nancy Roberts delivered an excellent and timely insight into AI and bias. As a self-confessed data analytic nerd and executive of several data organisations, Nancy was able to explain the link between data and AI and how bias and quality of data can affect it.

There was a strong focus on sharing experiences and insights on the second day of the conference and our speakers – researchers, librarians, or community workers across the UK – showcased innovative practices and student engagement with a range of existing projects. 

The first part of the morning looked at collaborative projects with under-represented students in higher education and how much work still needs to be done before libraries can be considered truly diverse and reflective of their students’ backgrounds.  Our thanks to Amanda Foster, Lorna Hibbert and Dr Biddy Casselden from Northumbria University and Dr Christina Kamposiori from Research Libraries UK.

The thought-provoking keynote presentation on Day 2: “Working in Partnership Across the University: Improving Race Equity” was given by Susan Cousins. Senior Compliance Advisor, Race – Religion & Belief, Cardiff University. Susan is the author of Overcoming Everyday Racism and Making Sense of Microaggressions and has also delivered training events to WHELF colleagues.

Librarians from across the UK then shared their exciting and innovative projects: reaching out to students with book clubs to boost study skills in Glasgow Caledonian University (Silvia Spaltro and Frances MacInnes) and an effective Wales anti-racism awareness campaign from Neath Port Talbot FE libraries (Sobia Shafique-Akhtar) amongst several other initiatives all aimed to provide help and support for staff and students wanting to diversify their teaching and learning (Charlie Worthington and L C Chung, King’s College London and Catherine Small, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland)

Many thanks to all speakers and a huge cheer for our attendees for contributing and making EV23 such a meaningful experience. Libraries are often at the heart of universities and communities and early adopters of new technology. With EDI knowledge, we hope that EV23 has provided a good insight into some important developments happening now.

If you attended EV23, you can now access the presentations and links from our Padlet.

So, as 2023 draws to a close, our Excluded Voices and WHELF EDI team would like to wish you all a restful Christmas break and a very happy New Year!