Anti-Racism Strategic Plan

Informed by the library’s vision, mission, and community aspirations, this anti-racism strategic plan was approved by the Board of Library Trustees on March 23, 2021.

About the plan

With staff input, the plan was developed over several months by the library’s Anti-Racism Advisory Team, a cross-section of stakeholders (administrators, staff, patrons, board representation, and young adults) who would work together to develop new protocols that shape the library’s strategic direction. The Board’s approval of this plan adds anti-racism as a fourth strategic priority to the library’s overall strategic direction of engagement, learning, and stewardship. To start, the Anti-Racism Strategic Plan will remain a separate plan for at least one calendar year. The reason for this is to provide unique focus on its specific goals and objectives.

The Anti-Racism Strategic Plan is organized into two main areas: internal practices and external practices. Then, each practice addresses four dimensions of racism: internalized, interpersonal, institutional, and structural. For shared understanding around these terms, formal definitions of terms used in this plan and its related work are specifically outlined as an objective in the plan itself.

Evaluation and benchmarks also are part of the plan’s accompanying Strategic Action Plan, an internal working document. Monthly progress reports are included in the Board of Library Trustees’ monthly meeting materials. Stories about the impact of this work are shared on the library’s website and in additional promotional materials.


Internalized Racism Goal: The Library will create opportunities to discuss how we have all internalized racism using affinity spaces and collective and intersectional spaces. 


  • Participants will develop a better understanding of how the internalization of racism has affected themselves and each other.
  • Participants will learn how their experiences have differed from that of their colleagues and other stakeholders.
  • Participants will identify common types of internalized racism by being able to name and acknowledge them.
  • Participants will be able to identify moments for mindfulness, both throughout the day and as intentional programming for staff throughout the year.

Interpersonal Racism Goal: The Library will be a welcoming and affirming space for all new and existing staff members, both online and in-person, through consistent and intentional relationship building between staff that is free of racism. 


  • Staff will be able to articulate the Library’s shared definition of racism. This also includes the meanings of internalized, interpersonal, institutional, and structural racism.
  • New staff member onboarding will address issues of internalized and interpersonal racism and encourage new staff members to show up unapologetically in the fullness of their identities.
  • Staff will be able to articulate the historical context of racism and become aware of their own implicit biases and how those inform interpersonal interactions.
  • The Library will continue to implement the Black Affinity Group and take steps to develop other kinds of affinity groups.

Institutional Racism Goal: The Library will employ policies, protocols, processes, and procedures that promote and advance anti-racist practices such as power, space, and resource sharing toward equitable, non-hierarchical program implementation.


  • The Library’s Leadership Team will re-evaluate the impact of Master’s of Library Information Science (MLIS) requirements to determine alternatives that accommodate more diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • The Library will implement and embody a racial equity policy framework that includes inquiry toward anti-racist practice accountability (e.g. pay for lived experience, analysis of vacation and sick time policies, racism misconduct reporting, and other HR-related topics) The Anti-Racism Advisory Team will work with the Director of Human Resources to help to achieve this objective.
  • The Library’s racial equity policy framework will also be applied to its vendor relationships.
  • The Library will establish more representation from BIPOC staff in the larger library association context.
  • The Library will experience increased program innovation and increased inclusion of black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) leadership in programming initiatives. 

Structural Racism Goal: To decrease the negative impact of the Masters of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree on the promotion opportunities and access to upward mobility at the Library. 


  • Create new and additional advancement opportunities for non-MLIS holders.
  • Develop scholarship opportunities for education toward the MLIS for those who desire it, making a library career path more accessible for all
  • Develop action-based, skillset-based evaluation protocols that acknowledge and monetize the value of lived experiences.
  • Develop a Black mentorship initiative that will aid in mentoring and recruiting internal staff and students throughout the school districts. These mentors would also participate in association conferences.


Internalized Racism Goal: To mitigate the impact of external racism on the Library’s environment and on the greater Oak Park community.


  • Create and implement a patrons’ code of conduct that names the library’s commitment to anti-racist practices. Post that code on every floor to make it visible.
  • Implement training to ensure that all staff members are equipped to respond effectively to actual racist practices from patrons and other stakeholders.
  • Develop a communications plan that keeps stakeholders informed of all the Library’s anti-racist initiatives and strategies.
  • Activate library programming that builds community awareness and capacity in anti-racism.
  • Include community participation in anti-racist advisory team membership.
  • Engage the Oak Park Police Department in conversations regarding how they show up and engage with staff and patrons.

Interpersonal Racism Goal: To have a working, shared definition of racism that includes common and shared language and understanding of anti-racist practices that we can leverage to have conversations and collaborations regarding anti-racism.


  • To be intentionally equitable in the allocation of library spaces, art expressions, and learning.
  • Create formal and informal opportunities for patrons to get curious about racism and anti-racist practices.
  • Integrate the experiences of staff of color to develop public programming (story sharing).

Institutional Racism Goal: Attract and retain more black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) staff at the managerial and leadership levels. 


  • Recruit and hire more BIPOC staff.
  • Analyze wages and salaries to ensure equitable compensation for parallel positions.
  • Develop community partnerships that serve as a support network to increase the number of Black library staff at the managerial and leadership levels.
  • Create a collection similar to the Hemingway collection of artifacts, policies, and resources that informs the community about the historical context of racism in the Oak Park community. 

Structural Racism Goal: Lead the charge in the galvanizing of multiple organizations in Oak Park and governing bodies toward the expansion of anti-racist practices in all that we are and all that we do.


  • Partner with local government agencies and other stakeholders to discuss and plan development and implementation of anti-racist policies, ordinances, or laws.
  • Work to share a broader scope and understanding of anti-racist practices.
  • Collaborate with other libraries to share anti-racist strategies/practices (broaden your own community of practice).
  • Establish more representation from the Library in the larger library association context.
  • Partner with other area libraries that have alignment in anti-racism strategies.

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