Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Why We Need Diverse Libraries By Rachel Smalter Hall Sep 1, 2015


Public librarians fight the good fight: we’re champions of literacy and intellectual freedom, we oppose book bannings, and we’re pro-education and public service. We’ve had a bit of a public image problem what with our shushing and our late fees, but we’ve been hard at work reinventing our image as welcoming, affirming professionals who are here to spread the love of books and information. We even have literary tattoos and bookish roller derby names.

All of this makes it harder to say this next thing: Public librarians need to do better with race.
When I recently read about the Napa Valley Wine Train that apologized for wrongfully escorting a book club of 11 black women off the train for being “too boisterous” (i.e. #laughingwhileblack), my first thought was of how many times I’ve seen the same thing happen in public libraries — I’ve witnessed many similar microaggressions against people of color throughout my time in libraries.

The nature of microaggressions makes them tricky to define, especially since they’re often so specific and personal, but I’ll do my best to describe a few of the instances I’ve seen.

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