Racial Equity and Social Justice

Because Libraries Inspire Understanding and Community Healing graphicCommit to ongoing learning, action, and engagement.

Racial justice is not achieved by a workshop, a book, or good intentions, but with ongoing commitments and actions. Ohio’s public libraries provide equitable access to information for all people, regardless of race. The OLC’s Diversity Awareness and Resources Committee recommends ways in which the OLC can address diversity as it relates to the library profession and to the Ohio library community. Aspects of diversity include but are not limited to age, disability, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity and race. A commitment to racial justice improves our ability to uphold the values of diversity and inclusion in our libraries.

Resources to help libraries respond to current events and social justice issues:


COVID-19 Ohio Minority Health Strike Force Blueprint
We Need Diverse Books Booktalking Kit
Smithsonian’s 158 resources to understand racism in the U.S.

Racism Scale: Where do you fall?

Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity

Organizational Assessment Tools and Resources

21 Day Race Equity Challenge

Every Day Democracy Resources

COVID Resources That Take Race Seriously

Racial Equity Tools

Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors

American Library Association

Reading Lists

Books can’t do the work for us, but can serve as a catalyst for self-reflection and group discussion.

Booklist – Recommended antiracism titles for all ages

Publishers Weekly Non-fiction

Common Sense Media

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards

The Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards


Reflections on Race and Racism
American Libraries (6/5/20)

Top Five Antiracist Titles
Library Journal (6/5/20)

How Eliminating Library Fees Advances Racial Equity
Urban Libraries Council (4/24/20)

EDISJ Matters Column – The Movement Toward Equity
Public Libraries Magazine (Jan/Feb 2020 Issue)

This List of Books, Films and Podcasts About Racism Is a Start Not a Panacea
NPR (6/6/20)

Advancing Racial Equity in Public Libraries Case Studies from the Field
Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE)


Teaching Tolerance podcasts

Floodlines from The Atlantic

1619 from The New York Times

Intersectionality Matters! from The African American Policy Forum

Pod Save the People

Code Switch


Race in America:  Joy Harjo & Tracy K. Smith (conversation with Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden)
(originally presented 7/9/20)

Center for the Study of Race and Democracy (CSRD) presented “Justice and Equity in a Time of National Crisis
(originally presented 6/3/20)

Columbus Business First presented “Racism in Columbus
(originally presented 6/2/20)

Multnomah County (Oregon) Library: Creating conditions for equity to flourish
(originally presented 6/17/19)

Black America Since MLK and I Still Rise
(PBS series)

Webinars and Upcoming Events

Advancing Racial Equity within Public Libraries: A Conversation with Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
(originally presented 8/6/20)
An introduction to the concepts of power, identity, and oppression, and how they impact library staff, services, programs, collections, and spaces.

Racial Equity & Inclusion in the Workplace
(presented live 7/8-10/20 – all sessions recorded)
Online symposium from the Denver Public Library (DPL). The Cleveland Public Library partnered with DPL on an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant to create this training. It is free and available to Ohio’s public libraries.

Reading and Talking About Race
An Intro to ALA’s Great Stories Club (Part 1: Deeper Than Our Skins)
(originally presented 6/30/20)

Advancing Racial Equity in Your Library
(originally presented 10/10/18)

Understanding Power, Identity, and Oppression in the Public Library
(originally presented 12/5/17)

James Cook Book Award: Celebrating Diversity in Teen Literature
(originally presented in 2017)


For Youth

8 Steps to Creating a Diverse Book Collection

How Children’s Librarians Can Impact Diversity

Guide for Selecting Anti-Bias Children’s Books

Creating Diverse Collections

Can Diverse Books Save Us?

Selection is Privilege

Censorship by Omission