It was only a year ago that Orange County Library System released a statement letting our community know that our library system stands for equality, inclusion and compassion for all of our citizens. We made that statement in the wake of the killing of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. Protests and unrest had broken out around the nation, including in Orange County. We wanted to make sure that our community knew that we do not condone violence, hate or racism, and that our libraries are safe, welcoming spaces for all.
A year later, we are still seeing division and injustice in our communities. Most recently, the news has been reporting stories of violence against Asian Americans, and a growing number of people of Asian descent have shared that they feel misunderstood, unwelcome and threatened in their communities. This is not acceptable. Our role as a library is to bring people together and to promote education and a better understanding of the world. So, since May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we decided to take the opportunity to honor and recognize the Asians and Pacific Islanders among us with a variety of programs that highlight Asian and Pacific Islander culture and contributions to the world.
From storytimes for young ones that showcase Chinese and Hindi tales, to a virtual Asian Festival, to an author event featuring authors of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage, this month we focus on offering programs that can help stamp out negative stereotypes and battle discrimination. We have also created a Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Voices challenge in Beanstack, which highlights selected titles that talk about dismantling racism, address the challenges faced by Asian Americans living through the COVID era, and encourages discovery of resources that share Asian and Pacific Islander perspectives.
If you’re not familiar with these cultures, we hope you’ll join us to learn more about what it means to be of Asian or Pacific Island descent and share what you learn with others. If you are one of our Asian American or Pacific Islander customers, we want you to feel safe, supported and included in our library community.