Equity & Anti-Racism


A library for everyone

As a public library in a Book Sanctuary Community, we value democracy and intellectual freedom, and we encourage everyone to read diverse and inclusive books. Read about the library’s equity and anti-racism work on this page. To learn more, contact Director of Equity & Anti-Racism Stephen Jackson at stephenj@oppl.org.


Curated collections & programs

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.


Anti-Racism Advisory Team

We work with a cross-section of stakeholders (administrators, staff, patrons, and board representation) who collaborate to help shape library 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
  • Latonya Applewhite, PhD, Executive Director of Equity and Student Success
  • Virginia Bloom, Oak Park Public Library Trustee
  • Chibuike Enyia, Manager of Community Engagement, Oak Park Public Library; Village of Oak Park Trustee
  • Juanta Griffin, Multicultural Learning Coordinator, Oak Park Public Library
  • Stephen Jackson, Director of Equity and Anti-Racism, Oak Park Public Library
  • Danielle S. Walker, PhD, Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, Village of Oak Park
  • Christina Waters, Village Clerk, Village of Oak Park

Staff affinity groups

The library’s Black Staff Affinity Group began meeting monthly in 2020. A Latine Staff Affinity Group and an LGBTQ+ Affinity Group were launched in 2022, and a Disability Affinity Group started in 2023. The intention is to provide a safe space for staff members to feel comfortable convening themselves and setting their own objectives.


Collaboration

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 that 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.


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 »