Women make up 80% of the library workplace and 56% of the student body population in higher education (Department of Education, 2017). They make up 53% of the faculty, staff, and administration in public universities in the United States (Chronicle of Higher Education, 2017). Yet, it was easy for us to overlook a smaller, specific population: How was our organization serving moms? The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) Criss Library staff saw a need within our own work place for employees, which opened our eyes to a larger problem for patrons: a lactation space. Where could new mothers go to express breast milk or to feed their child (in a clean and private place) before going back to work or to a campus event? This led to a discussion between library units and eventually to collaborating with the UNO Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of Women (CCSW) to advocate for the construction of a lactation space within the library for all mothers. This self-advocacy not only strengthened employee morale internally, but also strengthened our connection with CCSW and campus leadership as library advocates.
This presentation will review the logistics for advocating for a lactation space, finding best practices, and our challenges and how we overcame them (including budgeting, retrofitting a space, and administrative red tape). Additionally, we will share updates about the construction of our lactation space and lessons learned from this project. The recruitment and retention of female students and employees matters in higher education and this lactation space is a physical representation of our family-friendly and inclusive policies at Criss Library and UNO.
Blackburn, Heidi and Neujahr, Joyce, "Making Room for Moms: Advocating for a Lactation Space in the Library" (2018). Criss Library Faculty Proceedings & Presentations. 95.
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