If you’ve worked with young people for just about any length of time, a teenager has likely shared something painful with you and you may have felt momentarily powerless to help them. I experienced a moment like that on an afternoon when I heard a small group of young teens in my library branch discussing police brutality. I sat down with the teens that day and I listened. They were furious, frustrated, and sad. Absorbing their words and their feelings, I felt those same emotions. I also felt helpless. Their pain was so large and I felt so small in that moment.
Posts Tagged ‘social justice’
The #LibrariesResist movement allows you to be involved in activism in the way that best suits you.
One of the panels on my must-attend list at PLA was “Engaged and Inclusive: Institutional Approaches to Racial Equity and Social Justice” presented by Sarah Lawton, of the Madison Public Library, and Tariq Saqqaf of the City of Madison (Wisconsin), Office of the Mayor. The program focused on the methods, tools, and resources used by the Madison Public Library to address issues of racial equity and to create inclusive social spaces through innovative “equity impact tools” and neighborhood resource teams. As someone who is interested in social justice issues, I was very interested to hear how these concepts integrated with library practices.
Back when I was in school settings, first as teacher and later as librarian, I greatly adored the publication Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center. When I left educational institutions and entered the public library system, my commitment to issues of diversity, equality, and justice remained strong. Over the years in the public library, I have struggled with how to continue to “teach tolerance” while not in the role of “teacher.” I have tried to pursue these values in different ways for not only the public but also for the staff and my library board. For my community, I have engaged these concepts through collection development, displays, and programming. For staff, I have provided both formal professional development opportunities and informal discussion on the distinctions between difference and danger. For the library board, I’ve crafted policy to support these values and explained the importance of being conscious of these issues and implementing policy.
The public library is a go-to place for communities seeking social change to learn, plan, and exercise our rights in the face of widening concerns over police brutality. The Library as Refuge A recent Public Libraries Online, The Little Library That Lent a Hand, detailed how the Ferguson Municipal Public Library District in Missouri remained […]
As librarians, we know that intellectual freedom, education, and democracy are among the most important of our profession’s ethics, values, and foundational principles. These values and principles are codified in the Code of Ethics of the American Library Association and the Library Bill of Rights.