Worthington Libraries acknowledges and denounces all forms of systemic oppression occurring in the community we serve, and commits to eliminate barriers to access and to promote equity, diversity and inclusion for marginalized people within our community.
The Library strives to be a welcoming destination for all; a living room of the community where people can exchange ideas, socialize or just be among other people. As we work to become this space, we will achieve the goals set in motion by this policy – to open the doors of access and opportunity for everyone.
In September 2020, the Worthington Libraries Board of Trustees passed Resolution #09-06-20 to affirm an organizational commitment to doing the work of an anti-racist organization which states, in part: “we believe Black Lives Matter and the voices of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) should be heard in our community and be better represented in our staff, board of trustees, collection and programming.”
In addition, our 2020-2022 Strategic Plan contains the following goals:
- Empower people with the information they need to improve their lives
- Promote the Library as a place of individual transformation
- Expand access to library buildings and resources
- Build relationships with people who are underserved
- Make the experience of visiting our libraries warm and welcoming for everyone
- Increase organizational diversity, both in the collection and staff, to better represent our community
- Celebrate the history and people of our community
- Develop and grow partnerships that strengthen our community
- Create spaces and develop programs that bring people together
However thoughtful and well-intentioned, these words are meaningless if not brought to life by action and defended when challenged. In order to continue the work of becoming a place of inclusion, we must move away from the mindset of the Library as a neutral environment, which could contradict that work and allow us to subsume, rather than address, specific concerns of marginalized groups. The following represents how we plan to transform these words into action.
- We recognize that structural and institutional inequities have negatively impacted marginalized groups within our community.
- We recognize that the voices of marginalized communities are vitally important to creating a diverse library.
- We seek to be a Library that provides the resources necessary to support community efforts to address these inequities.
- We commit to creating a diverse and nurturing environment for all patrons coming into our buildings.
- Our policies, collection and hiring practices will create a welcoming environment that positively impacts the communities we serve.
In order to create a socially equitable Library, we pledge to:
- Increase diversity within the library’s staff and board to better reflect our community.
- Ensure services and policies are equitable in both intent and practice.
- Amplify the voices of marginalized people by creating a space of safety and trust so their concerns are heard and their needs are met.
- Equip our staff with the resources to assist all patrons.
- Provide ongoing learning opportunities on social equity and implicit bias for our community, staff and board members.
- Perform diversity audits to collections, booklists and booktalks.
- Reevaluate the library’s programs and outreach activities to increase participation by marginalized groups.
- Partner with community organizations to provide programs that reach a more diverse audience.
- Ensure our physical and virtual spaces are accessible and welcoming to all.
This work is ongoing and will affect all aspects of our organization. Continually revisiting this policy with a community perspective will assist Worthington Libraries in being an active voice for needed change for those we serve.
Worthington Libraries defines
- Anti-Racism as the work of actively opposing racism by advocating for changes in political, economic and social life.
- Diversity as the blending of individuals from different cultures and circumstances with varying knowledge, backgrounds, experiences and interests. Such differences include ability, age, ethnicity, gender, language, race, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status and more.
- Equity as the fair treatment, access, opportunity and advancement for all people, while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of marginalized groups.
- Implicit Bias as associations, attitudes or stereotypes that people unknowingly hold.
- Inclusion as the act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported and valued to fully participate.
- Marginalization as the process of relegating, downgrading or excluding people from the benefits of society.
- Neutrality as inaction, in the assumption that all groups have the same opportunities. This assumption allows oppressive systems to persist and contribute to a climate where the perspectives and expertise of marginalized people in particular can be dismissed.
- Racism as one group having the power to carry out systemic discrimination through the institutional policies and practices of the society and by shaping the cultural beliefs and values that support those racist policies and practices.
- Systemic Oppression as the combination of prejudice and institutional power which creates a system that discriminates against some groups (often called “target groups”) and benefits other groups (often called “dominant groups”).