Our Anti-Racism Journey

In January 2020, we formally began an anti-racism journey. We are aware of how it touches everything we do, as well as how our patrons, staff, and partners want to learn more about how to intentionally mitigate the impact of racism in our library, and in our community.

Specifically, we know prioritizing anti-racism work can help us:

  • Invite everyone into library spaces that are welcoming, safe, and inspiring.
  • Provide broad, effective, and equitable access to resources.
  • Attract and retain a library staff that reflects the diversity of our community.
  • Facilitate connections among diverse audiences through shared community aspirations and experiences.

As we continue to turn outward, we know we have work to do. This page includes information and resources we are using to get started, as well as a timeline of milestones. For questions or more information, please contact the library’s executive director, David J. Seleb, at 708.697.6911 or at davids@oppl.org.


BLM

Black Lives Matter

  • As your public library, we are committed as an organization and as individuals to dismantle the systems of oppression that have created, and that fuel, racist conditions. Read more »
  • As a member of the Black Metropolis Research Consortium, a consortium whose mission is to connect all who seek to document, share, understand, and preserve Black experiences, we affirm that Black lives, Black stories, and Black collections matter. See “Protest in the Archives” and “Collections on Black Experiences.”
  • As members of the American Library Association, we accept and acknowledge the organization’s role in upholding unjust systems of racism and discrimination against Black, Indigenous, and People of Color within the association and the profession. Read more »

Milestones in our journey

This journey began in early 2020 with Reesheda Graham Washington & RGW Consulting, LLC, whose international experience and local understanding make her uniquely positioned to support the library in launching this work.

Established a Black staff affinity group

Based on Washington’s recommended anti-racism trajectory report for our library, one of our first priorities was to establish a Black staff affinity group, which began in June 2020. This group now gathers monthly, providing a safe space where members can ultimately feel comfortable convening themselves and setting their own objectives.

Formed an Anti-Racism Advisory Team

Another recommendation—and priority—was to convene a cross-section of stakeholders (administrators, staff, patrons, board representation, and young adults) who would work together to develop new protocols that shape the library’s strategic direction. Working with RGW Consulting to develop this team, the library publicly shared in June 2020 the names of the proposed candidates and received community feedback.

Today, these individuals meet regularly as members of the library’s Anti-Racism Advisory Team. We are both invigorated by and hopeful about each member’s willingness to continue to participate in what we expect will be a challenging yet fortifying road.

  • Aaron Alonzo, Manager of Public Safety, Oak Park Public Library
  • Virginia Bloom, Oak Park Public Library Trustee
  • Chibuike Enyia, newly elected Village of Oak Park Trustee (May 2021)
  • Reesheda Graham Washington, CEO, RGW Consulting, LLC
  • Juanta Griffin, Multicultural Learning Coordinator, Oak Park Public Library
  • Stephen Jackson, Manager of Teen Services, Oak Park Public Library
  • David J. Seleb, Executive Director, Oak Park Public Library
  • Tatiana Swancy, Restorative Practices Coordinator, Oak Park Public Library
  • Sarah Yale, Manager of Community Engagement, Oak Park Public Library

Staff learning, the journey continues

In 2020, staff training began with the library’s seven-member leadership team participating in four three-hour sessions on posturing, developing a shared language, and creating conditions for anti-racism work. Similar topics were brought to all library staff in two three-hour training sessions held in August and December.

To summarize the first year’s work in his own words, the library’s Director of Social Services and Safety Robert Simmons authored a blog post for the Urban Library Council, which was adapted and posted locally. Read Rob’s blog post now»

Looking ahead in 2021, the library’s 13-member management team will gather for training similar to the leadership team’s in 2020. In addition, all library staff are invited to two three-hour sessions in June and December.

Stay current on news and new arrivals.

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