“It Isn’t Enough to Not Be Racist”: Anti-Racist Leadership and Public Libraries
April 21, 2021
The Urban Libraries Council (ULC) this week called on all library executives to own the challenge and impact of enduring racism, acknowledge their own biases and use their leadership to dismantle structural racism, starting in their own library systems.
In its new Leadership Brief on Anti-Racist Executive Leadership for Public Libraries, ULC looks at the origins and impacts of structural racism in public libraries and challenges library executives to take on a more active, intentional and accountable role in strengthening their libraries as anti-racist institutions.
Key Messages: Race, Racism and Libraries
- Anti-racist library work must start from within by ensuring that library executives and their organizations commit to anti-racism.
- Library executives must be in touch with their own inherent biases and personal experiences in order to be effective anti-racist leaders in their organizations and communities.
- To live up to their mission, public libraries must recognize why systemic racism persists and work intentionally to eliminate discriminatory policies and practices.
- It isn’t enough to not be racist. Leaders must be actively and intentionally anti-racist by confronting racism wherever they find it, including in themselves.
- Confronting systemic racism isn’t about ticking off items in a checklist. It is a lifelong journey for leaders that requires unwavering commitment and an acceptance that progress can be uncomfortable, and even painful.
“It Isn’t Enough to Not Be Racist.” ULC and Gale Call on Library Executives to Actively Embrace Anti-Racism’s Leadership Imperative
Apr 20, 2021
The Urban Libraries Council (ULC) has published a new Leadership Brief on Anti-Racist Executive Leadership for Public Libraries, sponsored by Gale, a Cengage company. This resource examines the deep roots and enduring harm of structural racism in public libraries and challenges library executives to take on a more active, intentional and accountable role in strengthening their libraries as anti-racist institutions.Introducing the Leadership Brief is the following quote from Baltimore County Public Library Director Sonia Alcántara-Antoine, “In order to make any progress as library leaders, we need to look at our own history with humility and have the courage to recognize that we can be part of the solution.” Alcántara-Antoine is a member of ULC’s Anti-Racism action team, which informed the development of the Leadership Brief.
To guide library executives in taking meaningful steps forward in their work as anti-racists, the Leadership Brief provides key messages, action strategies and examples of leading practices. This includes recommendations not only for advancing organizational change and staff growth, but also identifying and addressing personal blind spots, biases and racist attitudes.
“Anti-racist leaders must be more than voices for change – we need to actively embrace and embody continuous growth as individuals, even when it is painful,” said ULC President & CEO Susan Benton. “This new Leadership Brief builds on the insights and deliberations of library executives across North America. It is meant to be a call to action for all leaders to own their role in addressing systemic racism.”
The Leadership Brief highlights executives from 13 ULC member libraries in the U.S. and Canada. All 13 libraries are among the 206 total systems who have signed ULC’s Statement on Race and Social Equity. For additional information about ULC’s Statement on Race and Social Equity, Anti-Racism action team and Anti-Racist Executive Leadership for Public Libraries Leadership Brief visit urbanlibraries.org.
Gale is the first corporate partner to sign ULC’s Statement on Race and Social Equity and sponsor the Leadership Brief.
“Systemic racism underpins our history and taking action is the only way to create change and promote equity,” said Paul Gazzolo senior vice president and general manager at Gale. “Gale supports ULC’s commitment to helping public libraries achieve racial and social equity and this leadership brief gives library executives the strategic direction and framework to put in the work to tackle structural racism and systemic inequities, putting them on a path to becoming an anti-racist library and safe space for all.”
(Via Urban Libraries Council)