It’s now easier than ever for Library patrons to access antiracism and social justice resources.
Thanks to a $140,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., the Library purchased 3,668 new materials that explore racial equity. Many of these books, e-books, audiobooks, DVDs, and Blu-rays were in high demand following the death of George Floyd in May of 2020. The books span a wide range of genres, with titles suited for children, teens, and adults. The Library received the grant in July of 2020, and the books purchased have remained popular.
The majority of the titles, which include The Hate You Give, Antiracist Baby, and Stamped from the Beginning, were part of the Library’s collection but were difficult to check out due to extended hold times. About 10% of the materials purchased with grant funds were new to the IndyPL system.
Deb Lambert, the director of collection management at IndyPL, says the Library's selection team did extensive research to determine which books to include and how many of each book should be purchased. They looked at demand and hold times at branches, and worked to cultivate a mix of popular titles and hidden gems.
“Typically, the Library doesn't buy 25 copies of each non-fiction book. We might buy just five, and they move around our system,” said Lambert. “Lilly Endowment reached out to us when they noticed our long hold lists. They saw that people had to wait 16 weeks for some books and e-books. We had lots of holds on titles like White Fragility and So You Want To Talk About Race, and they wanted to help us meet the need for books that educate about racial inequality. Books can sit on a hold list for years, and you’ll never see them on the shelf. Now people can find these books while browsing, with no wait times.”
Some titles are available as book club kits, where 10 copies of a book can be checked out as one item. These kits have been a part of numerous company staff reads and book clubs around the city, including a book club at the Indiana Women's Prison. In addition, more than 200 titles have been distributed to schools via the Library’s shared catalog system and the Axis 360 Community Share initiative. This allows students to request and check out books from their educational institutions.
See the full list of titles funded by the grant here. See a list of the book club kits available as well as other racial equity resources on our blog, including streaming movies, that are available online or for check out with your IndyPL Library Card.
Lilly Endowment Inc. also provided Indiana Humanities with a similar grant to provide resources to public libraries and schools throughout the state. The organization also added books that advance racial equity to its statewide lending library for book clubs. Learn more at indianahumanities.org.