Due to ongoing institutional, structural, and individual racism and discrimination throughout the United States, the Black Earth Public Library is standing with the Black Lives Matter movement for racial equity and justice. Given the government’s long history of implementing racist policies, it is urgent for libraries to recognize and dismantle institutional racism from within.
Our goal is to provide truly equitable services, create diverse and inclusive spaces, and provide the vital resources needed for education on racism and racial equity. By providing a broad selection of materials and an abundance of learning opportunities that center the voices of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) individuals, we can better understand the effects of structural racism, identify our own biases, and build the skills necessary to eliminate both individual and institutional discrimination. Our Racial Equity Plan not only promotes antiracism, but it aims to ensure that policies and procedures are actively working toward equitable opportunities, services, and spaces.
The Black Earth Public Library is taking steps to follow the guidelines provided by the American Library Association and their “Libraries Respond: Black Lives Matter” discussion. Please visit http://www.ala.org/advocacy/diversity/librariesrespond/black-lives-matter to view these guidelines, and to access resources on terminology, antiracism education, and police reform and abolition efforts.
Plans for Action
- Book Discussions (ongoing) – Reading and discussing books that focus on racism/racial equity to improve the community’s understanding. Books read in 2020 as part of multi-week book discussions include White Fragility by Beverly DiAngelo, and How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi.
- Children’s Storytimes (ongoing) – Incorporating picture books that feature BIPOC characters, and are written/illustrated by BIPOC creators.
- Program Presenters (future) – Prioritizing BIPOC presenters when planning future library programs.
- Webinars/Training (ongoing) – Participating in virtual webinars and conferences focused on racial equity and literacy.
- Ripple Project (ongoing) – Participating in the Beyond the Page project that focuses on racial equity and social justice in libraries. The project includes free future library programming, as well as staff training.
- Representation (future) – Working toward better representation of marginalized groups in library staff and board members.
Evaluation of Policy
- Collection Development (ongoing) – Purchasing more materials by BIPOC authors, illustrators, and creators. Purchasing more materials that discuss racial equity and social justice. Evaluating current materials that may be out-of-date, and/or racist in subject matter.
- Displays (ongoing) – Maintaining library displays that incorporate BIPOC creators, and other marginalized groups year round.
- Safe and Equitable Space (ongoing) – Ensuring that our space is welcoming. The library updated policy in 2020 to remove fines and late fees in an effort toward a more equitable space.
- Police Interactions (future) – Revisiting policies involving police in the library. Potential discussions might include deciding when to call the police, and when to call another organization or community member.