Our journey has begun. We are intentional about this work, how it touches everything we do, and our efforts to:
- Provide broad, effective, and equitable access to resources.
- Invite everyone into library spaces that are welcoming, safe, and inspiring.
- Attract and retain a library staff that reflects the diversity of our community.
- Facilitate connections among diverse audiences through shared community aspirations and experiences.
This page includes the information and resources to get us started. We know we have work to do, and we are committed to doing it both as an organization serving Oak Park and as individuals who work at your library.
A cross-area Oak Park library team curated these two new comprehensive lists featuring specially selected books, media, articles, websites, and more. Grouped by age and format, items focus on two main themes:
This information is for anyone starting to learn more about systemic racism. Best for readers beginning to examine how they uphold racist ideals, and who are looking for new ways to be intentional about change for themselves and their families. Review the guide »
These lists reflect a celebration of Black joy, a primer on the unvarnished history of Black people in America, and an examination of the intersections between Black identity and other marginalized communities. Review the lists »
More anti-racism recommendations
- Black Lives Matter (titles for adults, teens, and kids, June 1) »
- Black Lives Matter (Books in Brief digital titles, June 19) »
- Read-alikes for 1919 (one of 6 titles featured in this summer’s Many Voices, Many Stories program) »
- Watch and learn about the Hope of Juneteenth »
- Listen to classic and contemporary album suggestions for Black Music Month »
- Recognizing Black History Month (featuring select titles from The Zora Canon, 100 best books by African American women, January 30) »
- Black Lives Matter & Libraries: Podcast with Dr. Nicole A. Cooke, University of South Carolina’s School of Information Science
- “Reading Is Only a Step on the Path to Anti-Racism,” Publishers Weekly article by Dr. Nicole A. Cooke, June 19, 2020
Black Metropolis Research Consortium
As a member of the Black Metropolis Research Consortium (BMRC), 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. Though focus is on the Black experience in Chicago, the archival collections within BMRC member institutions help shed light on the historical and contemporary realities of living Black in America. Evidence of Black creativity, intellect, resilience, resourcefulness, and pain emerge from these archival collections, both in response and resistance to the dehumanizing effects of racial oppression. These include:
Protest in the Archives. This resource page is a living document designed to help increase awareness of how and why archives document protest (especially anti-racist protest), the ethics of documenting protest, and Chicago area collections that document protests for racial justice in America.
Collections on Black Experiences. The BMRC gathers information about archival collections held by member organizations that document African American and African diasporic culture, history, and politics, with a specific focus on materials relating to Chicago. It’s searchable database includes records about collections that were processed or surveyed through the BMRC’s Survey Initiative and Color Curtain Processing Project programs, as well as finding aids contributed from our members about relevant materials in their repositories.
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 Urban Libraries Council, the Oak Park Public Library shares the commitment of other library leaders to dismantle systemic racism. Read more »
- 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. We recognize that the founding of our Association was not built on inclusion and equity, but instead was built on systemic racism and discrimination in many forms. We also recognize the hurt and harm done to BIPOC library workers and communities due to these racist structures. Read more »
Our library’s anti-racism journey
As we continue to turn outward to our community, we commit to an anti-racism journey that involves working with a consultant, Reesheda Graham Washington & RGW Consulting, LLC. Her international experience and local awareness make her uniquely positioned to lead us on this journey.
Establishing a Black Staff Affinity Group
Based on Washington’s anti-racism assessment report for our library, one of our first priorities this summer was to establish a Black staff affinity group. This group now convenes, converses, and provides a space where members can ultimately feel comfortable convening themselves and setting their own objectives.
The library’s Anti-Racism Advisory Team
The ultimate goal is to convene a cross-section of stakeholders (administrators, staff, patrons, board representation, and young adults) who work together to develop new protocols that shape the library’s strategic direction.
Working directly with RGW Consulting to develop this team, we publicly shared names of the proposed candidates in June to work with us on plan development. We received community feedback, and now have confirmed these individuals are meeting as members of the library’s Anti-Racism Advisory Team:
- Aaron Alonzo, Supervisor of Public Safety, Oak Park Public Library
- LeVar Ammons, Executive Director of Equity & Student Success, District 200
- Virginia Bloom, Oak Park Public Library Trustee
- 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
- Chloe Leach, member, Revolutionary Oak Park Youth Action League (ROYAL); student, Oak Park and River Forest High School
- David J. Seleb, Executive Director, Oak Park Public Library
- Tatiana Swancy, Adult Services Specialist, Oak Park Public Library
- Sarah Yale, Manager of Community Engagement, Oak Park Public Library
We are both invigorated by and hopeful about each member’s willingness to participate in what we expect will be a challenging yet fortifying road ahead. Should you have any questions or further considerations, please contact the library’s executive director, David J. Seleb, at 708.697.6911 or at email@example.com.
Engaging the library’s elected Board of Library Trustees and Leadership Team
Beginning in June and continuing through August, this work includes discussions around posturing, developing a shared language, and conditions for anti-racism work. It is also to ensure leadership readiness and capacity for the implementation of the 2021 anti-racism strategic plan.
- Freedom to Thrive Oak Park: New Reform/Transform report analyzes police policy and budgets in Oak Park, IL »
- Collaboration for Early Childhood: Why George Floyd matters to early childhood »
- Oak Park Elementary School District 97: Statement from Dr. Kelley regarding George Floyd »
- Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200: Message about George Floyd and our community »
- Park District of Oak Park: Building a strong community through inclusion and diversity is a pillar of the Park District of Oak Park »
- Oak Park Township: Community letter from Oak Park Township Manager »
- Village of Oak Park: Statement in response to the death of George Floyd »