Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is a strategic focus area of the IFLA Acquisition and Collection Development (ACD) Section, whose standing committee has a diverse membership. One initiative in the ACD work plan this year is to explore the global landscape of DEI in acquisition and collection development, to prepare for the coming changes in this area. We explore a Swiss example of DEI to demonstrate its application to acquisition and collection development practices.

Switzerland has a multi-lingual population that balances religious denominations and has a diversified political system. Yet, it seems to be free from the struggles of former empires or the oppression of ethnic minorities.  Switzerland’s libraries harbour a wealth of material from diverse sources. Private collectors have provided colonial heritage documents and notable information for the study of different cultures and nations.

At Basel University Library, one of the biggest and oldest university libraries in the country, diversity is a key goal that is promoted by private foundations and donors. The library acquires up to 17,000 print books annually in German, English and other languages. Although Basel’s population is mostly German speaking, there are residents from 190 countries who speak many languages.

A few years ago, a Basel-based foundation of an Italian philanthropist approached the library offering to enhance its collection of Italian books, which comprised just six percentage of written works. This may reflect the percentage of Italian speakers in the Canton of Basel-Stadt, but Italian acquisitions are decreasing due to a move towards e-books, and by subsidized printing in Italy. The financial support of the foundation raised awareness of language diversity and motivated university library staff to continue purchasing Italian books. This example shows diversity blossoming due to talks between public and private stakeholders.

Authors: Lilly Hoi Sze Ho (Chair) and David Tréfás (Secretary), Acquisition and Collection Development Section