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Libraries Assembly Statement on Systemic Racism

Events in which countless Black Americans are victims of police brutality, social injustice, and oppression continue to expose racism and broken systems within our country. Communities across the country are mourning the callous loss of life, calling out injustice, and challenging our leaders to effect real change. Libraries Assembly supports the movement for racial equality and justice. We acknowledge the complex range of emotions, including hurt, trauma, and frustration, felt by Black Americans, including many of our colleagues across all the libraries at Duke.

As a speaker mentioned during Duke’s June 16, 2020 Living While Black symposium, “Just being nice doesn’t solve the problem of systemic racism.” To our colleagues who are personally affected, we stand with you and want to work towards positive change. Libraries Assembly would like to be a part of the solution by committing to the following plan of action.

  • Because we realize that the undoing of systemic racism will take time and constant effort, we commit to working with the Professional Affairs Committee (PAC) to ensure that at least one program related to the Black experience in libraries and/or in America will be offered this year with additional space to discuss this topic in at least one program each year.
  • Because we recognize that the voices of underrepresented staff often go unheard, we commit to promoting a mechanism for staff to voice concerns to Libraries Assembly, which can act as an ally in creating change. Staff may voice concerns via our feedback form.
  • Because we want Black staff to feel included and want to make their contributions more visible, we will make a conscious effort to recruit Black staff to the Libraries Assembly membership and the Executive Committee and ensure that they are well-represented through the “Getting to Know Your Colleagues” platform as well as other initiatives that may arise.
  • Because we want to ensure that Black Americans have library internship and job opportunities as well as receive support in such positions, we commit to advocating for pipeline and mentoring programs.
  • Because we understand that retaining underrepresented staff is just as important as recruiting underrepresented staff, we commit to identifying ways to foster a safer and more inclusive environment for students and staff.
  • Because we know that accountability is critical in accomplishing these goals, we commit to assessing these efforts on a continuing basis.
  • Because of the need to diversify the Library profession, we commit to broadening efforts to build the appeal of libraries as a professional avenue to people of diverse ethnic, socioeconomic, and gender backgrounds. This includes supporting library internship and job opportunities, pipeline and mentoring programs and community outreach through PAC and other events.
  • Because there is an ongoing need to recognize the value of the contributions of all library staff, we commit to supporting the needs of staff across job classifications in a reasonable and timely manner given that most employees of color work in non-professional positions.

We recognize the above plan as merely a starting point in what must become a sustained commitment not only to fostering an environment of inclusion but also to fighting for real equity.

The original statement was written in June, 2020 by Libraries Assembly Member-at-Large for the Medical Center Library and Archives, Karen Barton, President Casandra Laskowski (Law Library), and Secretary Christina Manzella (DUL). This group solicited feedback from the Libraries Assembly Executive Committee (LAEC) as well as the Duke University Libraries Black Staff Alliance (DULBSA), finalized the statement, and shared it with Libraries Assembly membership in July, 2020.
Last edited February, 2023.