Libraries have been carefully structured as “neutral” spaces. Historically that has made it difficult for our organization to stand up when systemic injustices occur. However, Jackson County Library Services, as an organization, understands that an individual’s right to exist safely and visibly in their own community is a position of neutrality. The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others make it clear that this safety is not equally afforded to all citizens. As such, we stand with those organizing and protesting peacefully throughout the United States and the world during this time.
We are a library, and we would not do what we do if we didn’t believe that words and stories have power. We encourage our neighbors throughout Jackson County to explore the complicated history that both our country and our state have with institutionalized racism and white supremacy. Reading is a great way to learn as individuals and we have resources to help you on this journey. Read the voices of people of color, past and present. Do not simply sit comfortably with the history you have been taught and with which you are comfortable. Explore, dig deeper, get uncomfortable. Discomfort is part of this journey. Connect with others in your community who are also on a learning journey. Work together to deepen your understanding. Through these actions we will be able to grow as a community and create welcoming spaces for all of our neighbors.
What kind of action can you expect from JCLS in the coming days and months:
- You will see us providing information and resources for all ages to guide you in your exploration of race and racism.
- You will see us featuring authors of color as well as materials related to race and racism throughout our buildings, on our website, and throughout social media.
- You will see us creating opportunities to gather virtually and discuss systemic racism in our own community and beyond.
- We will also be providing support for our staff in the form of training and education. You may not see these actions directly, but we hope you see the impact of them in our daily work.
- We are constantly exploring how to increase diversity in our workplace, and these conversations will continue.
When we discuss our mission/vision/values within the library, we talk about our role of connecting our community to information, ideas, and each other. We look forward to learning, connecting, and growing with our entire community as we support the important work in which it is currently engaged. We look forward to doing this work with you. Our hope is that together we can create lasting change in Jackson County and beyond. In the meantime, please know that Jackson County Library Services will raise its voice in the face of injustice and will ensure our spaces are welcoming for all.