Intentional Inclusion: Disrupting Middle Class Bias in Library Programming


A PLA 2020 Virtual Conference On-Demand Session

PLA 2020 Virtual Conference logo. What could be wrong with traditional middle class principles such as hard work, achievement, self-sufficiency, and planning? The reality is that these dearly held values alienate many library customers and impede our ability to truly meet their needs. Pima County (Arizona) Public Library is successfully offering programs utilizing restorative practices for youth, community conversations for those experiencing homelessness, and expanded reference services for incarcerated individuals. Learn from our experiences around implementing radically inclusive programming.

Originally presented as part of the PLA 2020 Virtual Conference on February 28, 2020.

This session aligns with the pathway for Public Library Stewards in PLA's Theory of Change for Professional Development. To learn more, please visit

Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of this on-demand webinar, participants will be able to:

  • Define how middle class values fuel bias within the institutional structure of the public library and begin using critical analysis to identify your own bias;
  • Understand how to design library programs to meet the needs of vulnerable populations through an equity-focused conversational model rather than a traditional prescriptive paradigm; and
  • Explain why this shift in mindset is necessary for delivery of equitable and inclusive services to library patrons.

Who Should Attend

This on-demand session is intended for those with no previous knowledge of the topic.


Em Lane is the interim branch manager at the Wheeler Taft Abbett Sr, Library. Em has worked in libraries for over a decade, having had the opportunity to serve youth for a majority of his career. Em is a founding member of the Restorative Practices for Youth Team, which won a ULC Top Innovator Award in 2018 and he believes that all library customers deserve to be given opportunities for growth..

Kassy Rodeheaver currently oversees reference services at the Pima County Public Library’s Joel D. Valdez Main Library in downtown Tucson, Arizona. In this role she is responsible for directing the activities and staff of AskaLibrarian and Infoline, PCPL’s centralized phone, email, and letter reference services. She is an advocate for public libraries supporting incarcerated people through reference services in Arizona and beyond.

Kate DeMeester is a library services manager for Pima County Public Library. She is also the manager for the Joel D. Valdez Main Library in downtown Tucson. Kate is dedicated to advocacy for those experiencing poverty or homelessness and represents PCPL regarding these issues on internal Pima County committees and broader community coalitions. She is passionate about reducing barriers to access, especially those that are created and replicated by libraries as a middle class institution.

Matt Landon is a librarian at Joel Valdez Main Library in Tucson, Arizona, where he coordinates the arts and exhibits on site and organizes programming for adults, including programs for marginalized populations like those individuals in the downtown community experiencing homelessness. In the ‘On the Streets’ program, people gather for a meal and conversation, play games and do art, and hear from local experts on the topics of housing, employment, and health.

Important Registration Information

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This on-demand webinar is closed captioned in English (United States).

If you have a physical or communication need that may affect your access to this on-demand webinar, please contact us at or 800-545-2433 ext. 5PLA (5752) prior to registering so we can attempt to provide appropriate accommodations.

Tech Requirements

To play this on-demand webinar you should use a browser with native HTML5 support. Please use the most up-to-date version available of Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, or Edge. A fast Internet connection and computer is recommended.


This webinar is presented by the Public Library Association (PLA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA).

If you have questions or problems accessing a recording, send a message to or call 800-545-2433 ext. 5PLA (5752).

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