The past few weeks have been violent and frightening. I’ve been trying to think about what I can do as a youth worker in the political and social context of our country, and ALSC has been providing some great resources as has SLJ.
It can be helpful to look back in our history as a profession and think about how our profession is not neutral and we need to be active about where we are now. This American Libraries article, Desegregating Libraries in the American South, deserves a second look. Below is an image of the Tougaloo Nine, who sat-in at the all-white Jackson (Miss.) Public Library. When they were marched to the courthouse, a crowd of 100 black supporters were pistol-whipped and bitten by dogs, helping to galvanize desegregation in Mississippi.
While purchasing diverse books and finding ways to put them into children’s hands is an important aspect of our work, what are policies, programs, and outreach we can do to make our libraries truly open to all? What can we do to make sure we are meeting our goals of serving our whole community in spite of structural inequalities? How can we work to prevent our institution from perpetuating those structural inequalities?