The Indianapolis Public Library (IndyPL) is seeking the community’s help in selecting diverse writers and thinkers to memorialize at Central Library. The Name Engraving Project will add literary leaders of color to the list of notable authors etched into the interior walls of Central Library.
Between May 7 and June 30, patrons may suggest names via ballot boxes at branches and online. IndyPL’s Name Engraving Committee hopes to engrave an initial group of names as we celebrate the Center for Black Literature and Culture’s 4th anniversary. The project will allow IndyPL to enhance our programming and education surrounding titles by Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, and to use our public spaces to promote and advance diversity, equity, and inclusion.
There are currently 81 names of renowned writers and thinkers engraved at Central Library, but only five women and no people of color are memorialized. The original 76 names were selected by a committee of Indianapolis residents in the early 19th century. During Central's most recent renovation in 2007, a group of 42 renowned authors and a smaller vetting group chose names from a list of those they felt were the “greatest literary individuals of the 20th century.” Within these additions, no women or people of color were included.
“We want our Libraries to welcome and reflect the diverse public we serve. This project is an opportunity to shine a light on the literary contributions of people who have been omitted in the past, and to educate the public about authors and writers of color,” said Tariq Robinson, adult program specialist with IndyPL. “From these community suggestions, we will select names that share a more accurate historical narrative of the world’s literary and artistic development.”
The Indianapolis Public Library Foundation is raising funds for the project and says the number of names added is dependent on the funding secured. This year, The Library will engrave the names of Black authors outside of the CBLC and will subsequently add the names of authors of other diverse backgrounds.
Patrons may submit names online or at their nearest branch location and can learn more about The Indianapolis Public Library Foundation or donate to this initiative online. Please select "Central Library" when asked how to apply your gift and put “ENGRAVING” in the notes box at the end of the form.
So far, major support has been provided by Michael & Adelpha Twyman, the Dr. Michael R. Twyman Endowment Fund, and Lilly Endowment Inc. through The Indianapolis Public Library Foundation.
“As a longtime Indianapolis Public Library patron, I brought to Library officials’ attention the omission of persons of color represented in the names engraved at Central Library and I’m excited to be working with them to address this,” said Twyman. “Correcting the historical narrative by making public spaces more inclusive and equitable is a personal mission of mine — so much so that I am committing financial support from the Dr. Michael R. Twyman Endowment Fund and The Library Foundation, along with additional funding from my wife and me to bring this project to fruition. We encourage others to support this worthwhile effort and will match the community’s gifts, dollar for dollar, up to $9,000.”
Click here to learn more about this project, nominate your favorite authors of color, and to make your gift.