Words are powerful. They communicate ideas about us as people and shape the world we live in. Libraries are institutions that were built around the power of the written word and the understanding that open access to books and information is foundational to an equitable society and a healthy democracy. Library staff understand the importance of words and we take action to make them available to all. We also acknowledge the historical legacy of unequal access that public libraries have in the United States.
The words “Black Lives Matter” are powerful. But saying these words is clearly not enough; we also need to act. The recent killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd have shown once again that systemic change has yet to be realized. Words of support for Black, Indigenous, and people of color ring hollow if they are not supported by deliberate antiracist action.
WCCLS stands in solidarity with communities of color. In addition, WCCLS is committed to the Washington County’s Board of Commissioners’ resolution “to [dismantle] long-standing systems, programs, policies and practices that may have historically created obstacles to the success of people of color, members of ethnic communities and any marginalized group.” WCCLS’ strategic vision for Washington County is a curious, engaged, and literate community where everyone is welcome and thrives.
WCCLS recognizes that we have work to do in realizing our strategic vision and fulfilling the equity resolution of our Board of Commissioners. We are committed to educating ourselves about and dismantling the systemic barriers that we perpetuate as part of the status quo. We are committed to making progress on our strategic plan objective of increasing participation by underserved populations, including developing an equity framework to review and develop policies that reduce barriers to access, and equipping our leadership team to guide our staff through these changes.
We support the Coalition of Communities of Color, who wrote in their Leading with Race report: “We believe that Washington County is strongest when our communities [of color] thrive, where we are valued and respected, and the assets, strengths and resilience of our communities recognized.” WCCLS is committed to using our words and our actions to create meaningful change for the people we serve in Washington County.
Words are powerful. Action more so. We pledge to engage both.