23 May 2022
Woman holding a sign that reads "We All Belong"

Voices of Belonging is an interactive exhibit, created as a collaboration between several entities at Northern Illinois University: Northern Public Radio, the Divisions of Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development and Academic Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, as well as various campus and community partners. The exhibit is part of a continuing community and campus program focusing on belonging. The exhibit aims to deepen the communiversity understanding of belonging and othering by exploring personal lived experiences of campus and community members, and the insights of national belonging thought leaders. The NIU Library served as the inaugural site for the exhibit, drawing in a good crown for the opening as well as a continuing flow of visitors for several weeks. Various local libraries are involved in the DeKalb Belonging Project, which includes the Belonging Council, exhibits, and Diversity Dialogues.

Voices of Belonging features eleven residents and students sharing their stories in their own voices. The unrehearsed interviews conducted by WNIJ producers are honest and captivating. The exhibit also includes interviews with experts who help to define belonging. Featured is a rare recording of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. speaking to Ohio high school students about belonging. Angela Baron Jeffrey, who moderated NIU’s community conversation with dr. james a. powell, serves as the audio host. Visitors to the exhibit can use QR codes to access the audio portions. Reflection questions are provided to encourage personal contemplation at both the individual and community level.

This exhibit had its grand opening at NIU’s Founders Memorial Library on March 31, 2022. It then travelled to the DeKalb Public Library and Kishwaukee College. It will continue to travel around the DeKalb area, probably visiting other libraries as well. You can see more about the exhibit and hear audio at www.northernpublicradio.org/voices-of-belonging

Our guest blog post today is by Gwen Gregory, Associate Dean, Collections Management at NIU.