Aspiring to anti-racism: Milestones in our journey

For the first time in the library’s history, we have an anti-racism strategic plan. So how did we get here?

All photos taken at the Main Library. From top left, clockwise: Community Kwanzaa Celebration in 2019 (photo by Paul Goyette). Community members in a peace circle at the Restorative Community Practices Conference in 2019 (photo by Tina Harle). Speaker at the Youth Social Justice Conference in 2019 (photo by Paul Goyette). Teens organizing the 2018 Restorative Justice Conference (photo by Tina Harle).
All photos taken at the Main Library. From top left, clockwise: Community Kwanzaa Celebration in 2019 (photo by Paul Goyette). Community members in a peace circle at the Restorative Community Practices Conference in 2019 (photo by Tina Harle). Speaker at the Youth Social Justice Conference in 2019 (photo by Paul Goyette). Teens organizing the 2018 Restorative Justice Conference (photo by Tina Harle).

Aspiring to anti-racism

Equity and social justice are core values of the library profession. They are also Oak Park community aspirations and priorities, as embodied in the Oak Park Equity, Diversion, and Inclusion Statement.

We recognize that to truly turn outward and make a difference, to truly give space to and elevate the voices of historically, intentionally, and traditionally marginalized people groups, we need to go beyond equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Like all other agencies and organizations in the community, the library must identify and address how its policies, systems, programs, and services have been inequitable and have served to marginalize or oppress people. And then we must work to change them. 

Milestones in our anti-racism journey

Tell the world & invite all to join the journey June 2021

Anti-racism resource challengeAs we build awareness and trust regarding an authentic and organizational commitment to this work, we center the voices of historically and intentionally marginalized people. See all anti-racism news & events »

Continue the work April 2021

Managers complete three 3-hour workshops, discussing white supremacy, thoughtful decision-making, and how policy can reinforce oppression and inequities.

Make it official March 23, 2021

Library board members

The Board of Library Trustees votes unanimously to approve the library’s first anti-racism strategic plan, dedicating resources and accountability.

Take a deeper dive December 2020

Different dimensions of racismLibrary employees share feedback on the Advisory Team’s draft strategic plan. A second all-staff training includes peace circles for sharing and building community.

Ask about aspirations & share learning September 2020

Anti-racism aspirations word cloudStaff share aspirations for anti-racism learning, and 90+ employees are introduced to concepts of posturing, shared language, and conditions for anti-racism work.

Be vulnerable & authentic August 2020

Library leadership team on virtual meetingLibrary leadership engage in four 3-hour workshops on posturing, shared language, and conditions for anti-racism work.

Assemble a cross-section of stakeholders July 2020

Anti-Racism Advisory Team membersAn Anti-Racism Advisory Team forms, with local administrators, staff, patrons, board representation, and young adults to help shape direction and to develop an anti-racism strategic plan.

Create a safe space June 2020

Fist bumpA Black staff affinity group forms, where members can feel comfortable and set their own objectives.

Learn where we are April 2020

RGW Consulting Oak Park Public Library Recommended Anti-Racism Trajectory reportWe review how racism exists in both patron and staff interactions, and consider recommended action steps.

Start by listening February 2020

RGW Consulting website screenshotWe begin study and assessment with Oak Park business owner and consultant Reesheda Graham Washington & RGW Consulting.

Explore racial equity with community leaders 2019–2020

Our Executive Director joins a local Racial Equity Cohort that includes the Oak Park Elementary School District 97 Superintendent and the Oak Park and River Forest High School Equity Director.

Engage diverse audiences 2017–present

Leading Edge Barbershop

We collaborate with community partners on restorative justice, multicultural programming, and opportunities for teens in social justice, leadership, and college and career readiness.

Eliminate fines and fees June 2017

Child dancing, child readingWe eliminate late fines and meeting room fees, removing barriers to library use.

Connect with marginalized patrons February 2016

Social Services & Public Safety team members Stephen Jackson, Aaron Alonzo, and Robert SimmonsSocial worker Robert Simmons joins the library and starts growing a Social Services and Public Safety team that connects people with resources for housing, employment, health care, immigration, domestic violence, and more.

Stay current on news and new arrivals.

Close Bitnami banner
Bitnami