In June, Orange County Library System published a statement on our website opposing hatred, racism and intolerance. The post was made after protests erupted around the nation, calling for reform in response to the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
As an organization, we feel it’s our role to use our resources to bring people together and to create spaces where everyone is welcome. We have long been committed to creating an inclusive environment for our community, and that commitment has only been strengthened by this tragedy. Over the past month, we have been sharing resources to educate the community about racism, diversity and protest. We’ve had a Read to Understand reading list on our home page, featuring titles from classic and contemporary Black authors on the subjects of race, identity and social justice, as well as titles that are meant to help build your empathy. They’re all available from our collection, and many of them come in print, ebook and audiobook format. Our librarians have also researched and published a Black Lives Matter guide, which is intended as a starting point for those who want to learn more about the movement or about systemic racism in America. In addition to reading recommendations, it features links to podcasts, YouTube videos, informative websites, music and films. If you don’t know where to start your journey toward better understanding, I think this is an excellent place to begin.
We’re also doing some internal education here at the library. Our Training and Development Manager has made a selection of new trainings and learning resources available to our staff, so we can all better understand how implicit bias can influence us in ways we never realized, and how racism impacts everyone. We’re also working on additional anti-racism trainings that will be available to staff and board members later this year, and as we discussed at the most recent meeting of our Board of Trustees, this internal dialog will continue. When you know better, you do better – and we are committed to doing the best we can to serve our customers.
In the meantime, we look forward to offering you many opportunities to learn by making available books and movies that can help you expand your horizons, programs that highlight different cultures in our community, and safe environments where everyone is welcome.