By Mary Westervelt, ParentPowered director of marketing & communications
“As a descendent of people who were denied the right to read, to now have the opportunity to serve and lead the institution that is our national symbol of knowledge, is a historic moment.”Carla Hayden, 14th Librarian of Congress
June 2020 will forever be known as a time of reawakening to racial injustice in our nation. Which is why it feels both important and timely to celebrate National Black Family Month with the family engagement community.
This July, we invite you to join us in elevating and amplifying the work of organizations and individuals supporting the well-being of Black families. The statistics facing Black families in the United States are daunting. Black children are over-represented in the foster care system, Black parents are over-represented in the incarcerated population, and Black families are over-represented in the highest poverty communities. The anti-racism movement requires an investment in the systems that support the thriving of Black families.
Libraries as a Crucial Resource Center
Today we begin by sharing some of the resources for building anti-racist libraries in your communities. Libraries play a pivotal role in building healthy communities across the country. In many, many ways they both lead and reflect the culture we build together. They have the power to amplify new voices and new perspectives by drawing our attention to authors, illustrators, publications, and genres we might otherwise overlook.
Libraries also play an important role in family engagement, acting as a hub for sharing community resources and creating access to essential information. ParentPowered PBC is proud to partner with libraries across the country, who share our digital family engagement program with families in their communities.
With so many great resources to share, we selected just a few that schools and communities can use to build representative, ant-racist libraries that explicitly support Black families. These resources include courses, book lists, action plans, and more to inform the work in your own library community.
Resources for Building Representative Library Shelves and Programs
- American Library Association: Black Lives Matter statements and plan for action
This site includes specific actions you can take, like seeking out BIPOC job seekers, and includes supporting resources, like the job board for the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.
- Library Journal & School Library Journal Present: Equity in Action
This professional development sequence is designed to help staff become more culturally competent and to use those new skills to build diverse, equitable, and inclusive collections, programs, services, and staff culture.
Black librarians have been making an impact on profession and culture of libraries for decades. Take a moment to learn about the contributions of these librarians to the work you do today.
- Libraries, Literacy, and African American Youth: Research and Practice, by Sandra Hughes-Hassell, Pauletta Brown Bracy, and Casey H. Rawson, Eds.
Published in 2018, this book aggregates stories from the field of exemplary library programs in supporting African-American youth. It also provides context to highlight the importance and value of this work in closing the achievement gap and improving quality of life.
Header image: “Library: The Millenium Library” by angelatin is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0