What Can We Do?
As a public entity, we recognize that it’s not enough to be non-racist. We must be anti-racist. We must be active and focused in this fight. We must target weaknesses in our core systems and services in an aggressive attempt to undo racist structures and unlearn racist routines.
But what does that mean? For the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library it means a renewed examination of our policies, collections, facilities, programming, and training.
In reviewing our policies, we will explore library-wide anti-racist strategies. We will reassess what we once considered a success and look for cracks in the facade. We will revisit our failures and learn from them.
We will make mistakes, but we will not hide from our shortcomings. We will hold ourselves accountable.
In our collections—our books, multimedia, and resources—we will redouble our efforts to include authors of color and of other marginalized communities. We pledge to provide the tools and information our customers need to combat racism in their own lives and to help them understand different perspectives. We will ensure our black and brown customers hear their own voices and see their own faces in the materials upon our shelves.
Just as important, people of color and all populations must feel welcome and free to be themselves within our walls. A redesign of our building is already underway. As we reconsider our physical space, we’ll put special emphasis on equity and accessibility. We will build a library where everyone is valued.
In our events and programming, in person and online, we will not avoid hard questions. We will embrace the discomfort and guilt one feels when confronting racism. We will work collaboratively with local organizations to provide opportunities for anti-racist discussion and education. We are committed to preserving the library’s platform as a tool for community engagement and actionable change.
For our staff, we will provide the training needed to foster an inclusive environment, and we pledge to focus on voices of color as we continue to learn.
Within these strategies we must recognize how one system of oppression rarely works in isolation. Hate yearns to absorb more hate. And so we must also acknowledge and fight against sexism, transphobia, homophobia, ableism, and all other forms of inequality.
As a library, we recognize we must do more than provide you with anti-racist resources. As a library, we must pledge to be anti-racist. This is the standard to which we ask you hold us accountable.
We believe that black lives matter. We believe in the power of free and accessible information. We believe in our community, and we believe that we are stronger together.
This pledge is posted on behalf of library staff by Director Pamela Westby and is approved by the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library Board of Trustees.
1 24/7 Wall Street, 2017, link
2 DATA USA, 2017, link