We, the staff of the Wesleyan University Library and Collections, are devastated by the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and so many other people of color who were victims of police brutality. We deeply believe that Black Lives Matter. We understand that eliminating the systemic racism that pervades our society must be a responsibility and a calling for all of us. We also understand that this work is difficult and often painful, and that it will not happen quickly. Nevertheless, we are committed to working towards this common goal in our own areas of purview, both within the structure of the library and beyond.
As a first, fledgling step, we commit to the Oberlin Group Statement Against Racism and the Boston Library Consortium Statement. As repositories of knowledge and tools for societal change, libraries must facilitate social justice on many levels. We take that mission seriously.
We call on students, faculty, staff, and the broader Wesleyan community to join us in this work, and to reach out with any ideas on how we can continue moving forward together.
Since posting this statement on June 16, Wesleyan library staff have held a series of conversations around the library’s role in promoting racial justice. We are developing an action plan designed to make a sustained impact on the ways we work, and to achieve greater equity in the outcomes of that work. The plan is multi-faceted, addressing both our physical presence on campus and our intellectual responsibilities. It includes:
- ensure that the art hanging in the Olin and Science libraries is diverse and reflects both the Wesleyan community and the larger world
- interrogate, change, and promote our collections programming & practices to foster transparency and inclusion
- interrogate our cataloging terminology and practices to identify problematic areas, and work to change them
- improve our hiring and retention practices to ensure the library is a positive, equitable place to work for all employees
- begin to acknowledge and change our own biases and behaviors so that all members of our community feel invited to explore, question, learn, and grow in our spaces
We believe these actions will help lay a strong foundation for the work to come in future years.
A statement on working to build an anti-racist community at Wesleyan and affirming Black Lives Matter can be found on President Roth’s blog.
This post was updated on July 28, 2020 to include information about the library’s action plan.