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In Pursuit of Racial Equity: A Message from IndyPL to our Community

06/01/2020 | News & Announcements, IndyPL FYI

Recent events have produced frighteningly familiar fear and unrest due to a barrage of racist attacks on Black people around the country. We take a stand against the senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Dreasjon Reed and the many other Black lives that have been lost in our country.

As a public service institution, we owe it to our community to be introspective and address inequities that exist within our organization. Additionally, we are committed to using our position to help those seeking knowledge on these subjects to find understanding.

The Indianapolis Public Library has joined 163 (as of 6/2/2020) other public libraries across North America and signed on to the Urban Libraries Council Statement on Race and Social Equity.

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.

- Urban Libraries Council (ULC) Statement on Race and Social Equity

As part of our commitment to the spirit and intent of this statement, we want to share some additional actions we have recently taken and are committed to undertake in the near future:

  • Evaluating through an equity lens partnerships and community engagement, staff development, hiring practices, programs, collections, services, messaging, and organizational policies and procedures.
  • Working to execute the full recommendations of findings from the City of Indianapolis Disparity Study and implementing policies with our Board of Trustees as a result.
  • Offering racial equity and implicit bias training opportunities to staff.
  • Suspending the accrual of all fines and fees until further notice.

We recognize that we are in the beginning stages of addressing racial equity both within our organization and within our community. We acknowledge the work we must undertake to do more and to do better. We will work alongside our community to foster understanding and communication about systemic racism and white privilege and the deep impact they have had on all of us.

The Library’s mission is to enrich lives and build communities through lifelong learning. We achieve this through sharing, curating, and fostering environments for our community to absorb and utilize information.

We are compiling a list of books, websites, and resources to help the community process recent events, talk to children, and begin conversations whose goals are the actions that result in change and healing. We will continue to add resources in the coming days and weeks.

Booklists and Resources

To Learn More:

  • Stamped From the Beginning
    The audiobook of Stamped from the Beginning - The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendhi is currently available for free on Spotify. The book was winner of the 2016 National Book Award for Nonfiction, a New York Times Bestseller, a Washington Post Bestseller, and named one of the Best Books of the Year by the Boston Globe, Washington Post, and Chicago Review of Books, just to name a few.
  • Booklist: Disrupting Whiteness Books for white people interested in educating themselves on, and challenging, whiteness and white supremacy.
  • Booklist: The Black Vote Suggested reading on the theme, the Black vote.

For Sharing with Children and Teens:

  • Booklist: We Need Diverse Picture Books There are so many lovely picture books out there and this list is to highlight some of the ones that feature diverse characters. This includes but is not limited to POCs (persons of color), characters with physical, cognitive, or intellectual disabilities, and LGBTQIAP+ characters. They are books about self-worth and kindness. To quote Captain Raymond Holt of Brooklyn 99: "Every time someone steps up and says who they are, the world becomes a better, more interesting place."
  • Resource: We Stories We Stories engages White families to change the conversation about and build momentum towards racial equity in St. Louis.
  • Resource: EmbraceRace Resources to help raise a generation of children who are thoughtful, informed, and brave about race.