Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice

See also:

PLA Statement and Call to Action for Public Library Workers to Address Racism

The Public Library Association (PLA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), calls on public library workers to commit to structural change and to taking action to end systemic racism and injustice. PLA thanks members of its Task Force on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice for their guidance and leadership in development of this statement and call to action. The statement recognizes and supports ALA’s statement condemning violence against BIPOC, protesters and journalists, and ALA’s statement acknowledging ALA's role in perpetuating structural racism. PLA applauds the creation of a working group to create recommendations on restorative justice practices and the use/presence of police in libraries . Read the full statement and call to action…

Resources on COVID-19

The COVID-19 crisis is hurting everyone, but communities of color are suffering even more. In addition to the many COVID-19 resources posted by PLA, the PLA Task Force on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice is sharing the following resources for help understanding and fighting the impact on  Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities.

Public libraries have a unique and unparalleled ability to bring people and knowledge together, and PLA is committed to helping libraries achieve their mission through the core values of openness and inclusiveness. In February 2017, PLA formed a Task Force on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice (EDISJ), which will work to strengthen the organization’s commitment to its core values, while ensuring issues of EDISJ remain a top priority.

About the PLA Task Force on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice

The task force has been charged with developing a strategic and coordinated approach for PLA related to EDISJ issues. The task force explores methods and considers resources that will allow PLA to take a multifaceted approach. Task force activities include but are not limited to:

  • making recommendations for how EDISJ content is integrated into PLA programs;
  • elevating successful libraries as models to generate and share best practices;
  • identifying ways PLA might influence equity and inclusion within public libraries; and
  • helping libraries serve diverse communities and staff.

Updates on the PLA EDI Initiative

Library Case Studies

Across the country, dozens of libraries are taking practical steps to dismantle institutionalized racism through collaboration with the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE), which is a national network of city, county, and state agencies working to advance racial equity. With a specific focus on institutional change, GARE provides an essential framework for action within the broader equity, diversity, and inclusion movement. In 2016, GARE formed a Libraries Interest Group to support racial equity initiatives within libraries and library associations. Composed of librarians from GARE municipalities nationwide, this committee meets regularly to share best practices for institutional change, collaboration, and community impact. Advancing Racial Equity in Public Libraries: Case Studies from the Field, an issue brief written by EDISJ Task Force member Amy Sonnie and published by GARE, provides a brief overview of the GARE model for institutional change and shares case studies from public libraries in Seattle, Saint Paul, Multnomah County, Marin County, Madison, Hennepin County, and more.

Continuing Education


Advancing Racial Equity in Your LibraryAdvancing Racial Equity in Your Library
A FREE on-demand webinar
Panelists: Gordon F. Goodwin & Andrew Harbison

Libraries strive to serve their communities with important services and programs, and they also contributed to our nation’s history of creating racial inequity by enforcing racialized laws. Although racial discrimination is illegal, many long-held library practices perpetuate racialized outcomes and maintain libraries as white spaces—often unintentionally. This webinar, presented by the Race Forward Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE), presented an overview of concepts and approaches libraries are using to reduce racial barriers in their work. More…

Understanding Power, Identity, and Oppression in the Public LibraryUnderstanding Power, Identity, and Oppression in the Public Library
A FREE on-demand webinar
Panelists: Katie Dover-Taylor, Jody Gray & Amita Lonial

In alignment with ALA’s strategic direction on equity, diversity, and inclusion, this on-demand webinar provides an introductory understanding of the concepts of power, identity, and oppression, and how they impact public libraries’ staff, services, programs, collections, and spaces. Through presentation and dialogue, the panelists discuss the role of allies in addressing these concepts. More…


Social Justice and Public Libraries: Equity Starts with UsSocial Justice and Public Libraries: Equity Starts with Us
The PLA Task Force on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice will present the one-and-a-half day symposium, Social Justice and Public Libraries: Equity Starts with Us, three times in 2019. The symposium will explore how power and privilege operate interpersonally and institutionally; identify how oppression shows up in our communities and libraries; and share information about historical and contemporary social justice movements. More…

Equity Starts with Us Resources for Symposium Attendees
If you attended one of PLA’s Social Justice and Public Libraries: Equity Starts with Us events, please visit https://docs.pla.org/edisj-resources/ to access presentations, exercises, flip chart notes, handouts and other information from the training. This page is password protected and only available to individuals who registered for and attended the PLA symposium.

PLA Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Interest Group

Join PLA’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) interest group to connect with members interested in building skills and organizational capacity to address issues of EDI. Please note that participation in PLA interest groups is limited to PLA personal members and login is required.*

Additional Resources

*You will be asked to login with your ALA website login and password to confirm your current PLA personal membership. If you’ve forgotten your login information, you'll be able to retrieve your username/password or create a login if you don't have one from the "Login" page.