What is the audit?

Why should a library use a social inclusion audit?

Social audits are evaluation tools used in a variety of settings including businesses, hospitals, schools, and other organizations as a means of formalizing, informing, and guiding the process of removing barriers to inclusion in a comprehensive and structured manner.

The audit tool itself is a means to an end, by providing an analysis of the degree to which barriers to inclusion have been removed.

The Canadian Urban Libraries Council (CULC) / Conseil des Bibliothèques Urbaines du Canada (CBUC) has expanded its commitment to social inclusion through the development of this Social Inclusion Audit Toolkit and through the development of a social inclusion and diversity manifesto that binds Canada’s urban libraries together in their efforts to remove barriers to inclusion.

Canadian Urban Libraries Council (CULC) / Conseil des Bibliothèques Urbaines du Canada (CBUC) Statement on Diversity and Inclusion

Canada’s urban public libraries recognize that a diverse and pluralistic society is central to our country’s identity. Public institutions, including public libraries, have a responsibility to contribute to a culture that recognizes and celebrates this diversity.

Libraries can help to encourage an attitude of inclusion by ensuring that all residents of Canada receive public library service that is respectful. Canada’s large urban public libraries recognize and will energetically affirm the dignity of those they serve, regardless of capabilities, or personal wealth. All Canadian residents should be able to seek information and engage in personal discovery free from any attempt by others to impose values, customs, or beliefs.

Critical elements of the social inclusion audit

CULC/CBUC launched an intensive research project in 2008 to develop a Social Inclusion Audit Toolkit using the following methods:

  • Reviewed existing literature to gather information on and perform a critical analysis of social inclusion, social inclusion audits, and social inclusion in both organizational and library contexts.
  • Solicited information and feedback from four pilot library locations using community-based research and participatory methods.
  • Assessed the frameworks used in the development of other social inclusion audits and cultural competency assessment worldwide.
  • Interviewed authors of other social inclusion audits to assess the methods used in the development of the audit tools.
  • Assessed the information gained by the users of existing audit and assessment tools to assess the efficacy and use of these tools.
  • Developed a definition of social inclusion that reflects the library context and reality as an organization and as a community centre.

Upon careful analysis of the information received using the research methods described above, it was determined that the CULC/CBUC Social Inclusion Audit Toolkit should:

  1. Be inclusive – Use community-based participatory methods that engage the community in relevant and meaningful ways in the development, implementation and evaluation of the social inclusion audit tool.
  2. Be brief – Use fewer macro outcome-based questions in the audit tool to prevent audit burnout. Many of the survey tools we assessed were extremely lengthy and use of the tool by community organizations was limited as a result.
  3. Be engaging – Provide an easy point of entry for libraries who are new to the work of social inclusion while providing latitude for libraries who excel in this area to further refine their work. The audit tool must engage libraries with different and diverse skills, expertise, and exposure to social inclusion.
  4. Be smart – Focus on what is important. We determined that the concepts of “openness,” “intentionality,” and “inclusion” are the key indicators to guide the development, implementation, and evaluation of social inclusion work.

    In particular, and of utmost importance to the success of removing barriers to inclusion, is the degree in which an organization demonstrates its ongoing commitment to remove barriers to social inclusion at every level.

    As this was seen to be an integral part of effectively removing the barriers to inclusion, the audit tool emphasizes and assesses this commitment – or level of intentionality in a variety of ways:

    • ensure that the tool captures the library’s current status of the implementation of measures to remove barriers to inclusion – and ensure the tool captures progress as a marker that emphasizes intentionality as well as openness and inclusion;
    • provide a toolkit that supports the commitment to social inclusion, and also supports the development, implementation, and evaluation of a wide range of strategic and operational infrastructure that supports inclusion.
  5. Be realistic – Provide a context for the results of the audit by providing each library with the ability to compare their performance over consecutive years and to compare their performance to peer libraries through the Canadian Urban Libraries Council (CULC) / Conseil des Bibliothèques Urbaines du Canada (CBUC).
  6. Be timely – Complete the audit on an annual basis and compare the results with peer libraries, and with the library’s previous audit results.

Introduction to the CULC/CBUC Social Inclusion Audit

The following represents the definition of social inclusion used in this toolkit. This definition formed the basis for the development of the three indicators of inclusion and the outcome-based “questions” used in the social inclusion audit.

What is Social Inclusion?

Social inclusion is the participatory, authentic, and accountable manner in which institutions uphold and reinforce the principles of access, equity and thus, social inclusion for all.

In particular, social inclusion is the manner in which institutions:

  • are open to understanding and engaging in their communities;
  • explore, view, and challenge barriers, values, and behaviours;
  • develop, implement, and evaluate systems, programs, policies, and procedures;
  • provide equitable access to services and decision making opportunities;
  • demonstrate the level of inclusion through tangible outcomes.

What are the Social Inclusion Indicators?

Our research into social inclusion has suggested inclusion is best measured when an organization assesses the degree in which it is open to engage with the community in a meaningful way, and intentional about removing barriers to inclusion.

As such, CULC/CBUC’s social inclusion audit includes indicators that assess openness, intentionality, and inclusion.

  1. Indicator of Openness – How well the library knows the community
    The degree in which an organization is “open” can be assessed by understanding how well the library knows its community. A library is open when it understands its community as well as its community’s needs.
    – The social inclusion audit questions 1 and 2 relate to this indicator.
  2. Indicator of Intentionality – How well the library reinforces the principles of social inclusion
    The degree in which an organization is intentional about removing the barriers to inclusion is also dependent upon how the library reinforces the principles of social inclusion in the short- and long-term. Removing barriers to inclusion is a long-term process that requires commitment and ongoing attention.
    – The social inclusion audit questions 3 to 9 relate to this indicator.
  3. Indicator of Inclusion – How well the library is the community
    The degree in which the library is open and intentional about the work of social inclusion will determine the degree in which it successfully removes barriers to inclusion. A library is inclusive when it collaborates with the community and when the community is reflective in the library’s strategies, operations, human resources, programming, and collections.
    – The social inclusion audit questions 10 to 12 relate to this indicator.

To facilitate ease of use, the 12 outcome statements – audit “questions” – are all brief and clearly stated, easily assessed, flexible so that libraries can adapt the outcomes to specific groups, have some depth to allow for variation, and include status and progress assessments.

Who Should Use the Social Inclusion Audit Tool?

Members of a library’s working committee on social inclusion should likely complete the audit, or provide assistance to a small group of library staff members. The community advisory committee should not participate in the completion of the audit itself. Please share the results of the audit tool with the community advisory committee to receive their input and feedback on the ratings. This will help you learn more about the library’s progress in removing barriers to inclusion.

What Are the Benefits of Using this Tool?

The social inclusion audit can be used to track an organization’s status and progress on the work. Section III should be used in conjunction with the implementation of the audit tool to raise awareness of the ways an organization can work to remove barriers to inclusion.

Tip: Key points to remember

  • Careful consideration should be taken when deciding who is the best person or group of people to complete the CULC/CBUC Social Inclusion Audit Tool.
  • Be as honest and accurate as possible when scoring the outcome statements – this will ensure the library gets the most value out of the Audit Tool.
  • Follow up – using the Social Inclusion Audit Tool should become part of the library’s evaluation process.

The Framework

The CULC/CBUC social inclusion audit:

  • includes 12 questions stated as outcome statements;
  • provides a scoring scale from 0 to 4 – based on the number of achieving items in each outcome statement;
  • requires that each question is scored twice:
    1. once to assess current status in meeting that outcome; and
    2. a second time to assess progress in meeting the outcome over time.

Below is an annotated description of the question structure.

The Scale

As mentioned above, both status and progress are scored using a scale from 0 to 4. The description of each score is outlined on the following page.

Status Scoring Scale Per Question

  • 0. Not in place / not started / organization does not meet requirements
  • 1. Organization meets minimal requirements
  • 2. Organization meets partial requirements
  • 3. Organization meets substantial requirements
  • 4. Organization meets all or most

Progress Scoring Scale Per Question

Assess progress over time ranked on a scale 0 – 4 per question

  • 0. Not in place / not started / absent / stopped
  • 1. Declining
  • 2. Improving
  • 3. Stable performance
  • 4. Exceptional gains

The Scores

As each of the 12 questions is scored for both status and progress, the “auditor” will tally the total score for both status and progress.

Aggregated Status Score Scale

The summary status score provides an assessment on the library’s capacity to meet the requirements stated within the 12 social inclusion outcomes.

Aggregated Status Scores Result
0 Not in place – not started yet – does not meet requirements
<12 Meets minimal requirements
13 – 24 Meets partial requirements
25 – 36 Meets substantial requirements
37 – 48 Meets all or most requirements

Aggregated Progress Score Scale

The summary progress score demonstrates the direction of growth of the work to remove barriers to inclusion within the 12 social inclusion outcomes outlined in the social inclusion audit.

Aggregated Progress Scores Result
0 Not in place – not started yet – does not meet requirements
<12 Declining
13 – 24 Improving
25 – 36 Stable performance
37 – 48 Exceptional gains

The final summary score – Social Inclusion Status and Progress Scores

As mentioned earlier, there are three main indicators for social inclusion – openness, intentionality, and inclusion.

The 12 questions contain two questions that audit “openness,” seven that audit “intentionality,” and three that audit “inclusion.”

The scores in the outcome-based questions for each indicator are tallied so that there is a score for each indicator of inclusion and a total score.

Indicator Number of questions in the audit tool Total Score
Openness 2 / 16
Intentionality 7 / 56
Inclusion 3 / 24
TOTAL 12 / 96

The Interpretation

Total Scores – Interpretation

The total score will be between 0 and 96. The following table is a guide to what the library ought to do next based upon the social inclusion status and progress score.

Status and Progress Scores Interpretation and Recommendations
0 – 26 Be Open to Change
27 – 48 Become Intentional
49 – 70 Refine Your Work
71 – 96 Mentor Others

Assessing the Combined Scores

To get a more detailed interpretation of the library’s score, the Status and Progress scores can be separated and plotted on the chart below. This chart is modelled on the SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis.

Sample Total Score Interpretation

The following example shows how you would plot the results where the total status score was 10 and the total progress score was 34. This combination of scores reflects low status and high progress.

In this scenario it is recommended that the library refine the social inclusion plan as its intentions are strong but it is lacking the momentum necessary for implementing actual change.