These are distressing and challenging days. Together, we have faced a pandemic, the closure of our buildings to the public, in some cases layoffs/furloughs of staff, and now the horrific murder of George Floyd and the riots that followed. The Ohio Library Council has a strong belief in the First Amendment and condemns racism and all acts of violence. Libraries are trusted and welcoming places and pillars for inclusion, diversity and democracy for the communities we serve. Ohio’s public libraries provide equitable access to information for all people, regardless of race.
Under normal circumstances, many community conversations would be held at the library, the place where information is shared and ideas are exchanged in a respectful manner. But, these are not normal circumstances and our buildings are not open to the public for large gatherings. However, we know libraries are already scheduling online conversations and providing curated lists of books to expand empathy, cultivate understanding, and build knowledge. While OLC doesn’t have all the answers, we can provide a forum for these conversations and can continue to compile resources on anti-racist and social equity work. As we face even more challenging days ahead, the role of public libraries in our communities will be more important than ever.
Gov. Mike DeWine recently stated, “We should all be outraged that in the year 2020, in Ohio and in this country, there’s still inequality of opportunity and there is still racism. The coronavirus, this global pandemic has laid bare our vulnerabilities, our fears, our outrage, our uncertainty, our disparities and our injustices. We must come together to try to solve these historic injustices. I intend to bring people together to create hope and opportunity for all Ohioans.”
We know Ohio’s public libraries are uniquely positioned to help with this mission and we look forward to working with the Governor’s Office on creating opportunity for everyone.
In addition, the OLC’s Diversity Awareness and Resources Committee is continuing to identify ways in which the OLC can address diversity as it relates to the library profession and the Ohio library community. Through training, speakers, workshops, and publications, this committee serves as an excellent resource for OLC and our members. The committee has also created a Racial Equity and Social Justice Resource page on the OLC website at olc.org/racial-equity.