Equity & Anti-Racism

Community Kwanzaa Celebration, December 2022. Photo by Shanel Romain.

We are a library for everyone: Milestones & more

What kind of community do you want to live in?” There are several examples of how acting on community feedback to this question has impacted library work. Hiring a social worker to replace contracted security, eliminating fines for late materials, having dedicated staff and resources focused on supported services and rainbow services are a few.

Another example is the library’s equity and anti-racism journey. Read more on this page and in the bullet point lists below. Know the library’s Director of Equity & Anti-Racism Stephen Jackson is happy to speak with you about the work. Reach him at stephenj@oppl.org.

Curated resources

The library’s Collection Strategy Statement reflects the diverse needs of the Oak Park community, and states “through our collections—in all available formats—we work to facilitate equitable experiences for engagement, education, and inspiration. It is our intention that collections—as curated content—have measurable impact on the community.” The library’s programming goals align with the strategic plan to prioritize anti-racism programs, community needs, and interests.

Community and staff input

We work with a cross-section of stakeholders (administrators, staff, patrons, board representation, and young adults) who work together to develop new protocols that shape the library’s strategic direction, plans, and policies. These individuals meet regularly as members of the library’s Anti-Racism Advisory Team.

  • Aaron Alonzo, Manager of Public Safety, Oak Park Public Library
  • Chibuike Enyia, Manager of Community Engagement, Oak Park Public Library
  • Christina Waters, Village of Oak Park
  • Juanta Griffin, Multicultural Learning Coordinator, Oak Park Public Library
  • Stephen Jackson, Director of Equity and Anti-Racism, Oak Park Public Library
  • Orson Morrison, Oak Park Community Member
  • Tatiana Swancy, Restorative Practices Coordinator, Oak Park Public Library
  • Virginia Bloom, Oak Park Public Library Trustee
  • Wendy Senger, Dominican University

Staff support: Staff affinity groups

In 2020, the library’s Black Staff Affinity Group began meeting monthly. Two additional affinity groups, a Latinx Staff Affinity Group and an LGBTQ+ Affinity Group were launched in 2022. The intention is to provide a safe space where staff members can ultimately feel comfortable convening themselves and setting their own objectives.

Collaboration: In the industry, across the community

As a member of the Black Metropolis Research Consortium (BMRC), a group whose mission is to connect all who seek to document, share, understand, and preserve Black experiences, we affirm that Black lives, Black stories, and Black collections matter. Of note: “Protest in the Archives” and “Collections on Black Experiences.”

As a member of the American Library Association (ALA), we refer to resources compiled for both ALA members and the public about Black Lives Matter and related issues, sharing them for informational purposes.

As a member of the Urban Libraries Council (ULC), the Oak Park Public Library is one of the 200+ public libraries across North America who have signed ULC’s Statement on Race and Social Equity. This statement, which serves as a baseline upon which libraries can build policies and actions that make their communities more inclusive and just, reads as follows:

As leaders of North America’s public libraries, we are committed to achieving racial and social equity by contributing to a more just society in which all community members can realize their full potential. Our libraries can help achieve true and sustained equity through an intentional, systemic and transformative library-community partnership. Our library systems are working to achieve equity in the communities we serve by:

  • Eliminating racial and social equity barriers in library programs, services, policies and practices
  • Creating and maintaining an environment of diversity, inclusion and respect both in our library systems and in all aspects of our community role
  • Ensuring that we are reaching and engaging disenfranchised people in the community and helping them express their voice
  • Serving as a convener and facilitator of conversations and partnerships to address community challenges
  • Being forthright on tough issues that are important to our communities

Libraries are trusted, venerable and enduring institutions, central to their communities and an essential participant in the movement for racial and social equity.

Additional Oak Park community allies include:

Land acknowledgment

We acknowledge that Oak Park is situated on the ancestral land of the Bodewamiadkiwen (Potawatomi), Myaamia (Miami), Oceti Sakowin, Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo), and Peoria. We honor them and thank them for their stewardship of this land. Source: native-land.ca. More about why indigenous land acknowledgement is important »

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