Social Justice and Public Libraries: Equity Starts with Us

Important information about PLA Regional Trainings related to Coronavirus COVID 19

After much deliberation, PLA has made the difficult decision to postpone its upcoming 2020 regional training workshops—including Social Justice and Public Libraries: Equity Starts with Us. This decision comes after considering the most recent guidance from the CDC and the WHO regarding the evolving Coronavirus and its potential impact on those traveling and attending group gatherings. See below for more information.

Social Justice and Public Libraries: Equity Starts with Us - Regional Training logo - raised fist clutching scales of justice - Public Library AssociationA regional symposium on equity, diversity, inclusion, and social justice for public libraries

The following have been postponed:

May 18–19, 2020 – POSTPONED
Austin Public Library
Austin, TX

May 20–21, 2020 – POSTPONED
Austin Public Library
Austin, TX

August 24–25, 2020 – POSTPONED
The Seattle Public Library
Seattle, WA

September 21–22, 2020 – POSTPONED
Broward County Public Library
Fort Lauderdale, FL

October 26–27, 2020 – POSTPONED
Kansas City Public Library
Kansas City, MO

Libraries across the country are making stronger commitments to equitable library services for all. Librarians, library administrators, library staff, and other stakeholders are encouraged to join us to grow the collective capacity and connections we will need to do this work.

During this one-and-a-half day symposium we will explore how power and privilege operate interpersonally and institutionally; identify how oppression shows up in our communities and libraries; and learn about historical and contemporary social justice movements. Participants will hear from libraries putting equity into practice, develop regional connections, and create local action plans to advance equity and social justice in our organizations and communities.

Day one will focus on building shared language, self-awareness and historical understanding. Day two will give us the chance to learn about successful racial equity initiatives and develop action plans to catalyze or strengthen equity work in our organizations and communities.

"Mia is a fantastic facilitator!  Wonderful two days! More time!"—Attendees, Social Justice and Public Libraries Symposium, Toledo, OH, December 2019

"I loved your presentation and talking about solidarity, resistance, power and oppression. I learned alot and now want to dive even deeper into these subjects and read all the books and articles you mentioned."—Attendee, Social Justice and Public Libraries Symposium, Chicago, IL, October 2019

"When I got back, I changed my email signature to include my pronouns as the first step of starting to make change in my organization. A library director from our region was visiting and let me know she and her staff had a very positive discussion about the use of pronouns stemming from my email signature. I just want to thank everyone for providing fantastic resources for library staff!"—Attendee, Social Justice and Public Libraries Symposium, Charleston, SC, August 2019

"I thought it was phenomenal! [Mia’s] energy and voice and humor and focus were incredible. I appreciate that there was time set aside for group discussion. Perfect! Thank you!"—Attendee, Social Justice and Public Libraries Symposium, Denver, CO, February 2019

At the end of this event, participants will:

  1. Build shared understanding of equity, diversity, inclusion, and social justice (EDISJ) concepts, including identity and privilege, institutionalized racism and oppression, solidarity, and liberation;
  2. Increase self-awareness, identify systems of oppression, develop strategies to address biases, and learn how to share this knowledge within your organization and your community;
  3. Develop regional connections that can help you create and sustain transformative work in your library and community; and
  4. Utilize case studies and equity tools to create an action plan for strengthening EDISJ in your organization and community.

Dates and Locations

PLA will not offer these regional symposia in 2020. Check back for future 2021 dates and locations.

Who Should Attend?

The event organizers have identified this session as appropriate for people with no previous knowledge of the topic, and for people with some knowledge who want to increase their understanding.

Registration is limited to 100. Participation in both days is required. This event is appropriate for individuals or small teams from libraries. PLA wants to make sure there’s space for attendees from many diverse libraries at each event, which will create a richer learning experience for everyone. Therefore we are discouraging any libraries from sending large numbers of staff. If your library is interested in sending 10 or more staff to one of these events, please contact PLA (Scott Allen, 312-280-5858 or to discuss it.

Pre-Symposium Preparation

The free PLA on-demand webinar, “Understanding Power, Identity, and Oppression in the Public Library,” is an excellent primer to this convening. Attendees are also encouraged to download and review the Government Alliance on Race and Equity report, Advancing Racial Equity in Public Libraries: Case Studies from the Field. These are not required but recommended.


Mia HenryMia Henry
Facilitator, Educator, and Tour Curator

Mia Henry (she/they) is the founder and principal of Freedom Lifted, a company providing Civil Rights tours to the U.S. Deep South and social justice trainings using a historical lens. Mia has more than 18 years of experience in leadership development, social justice facilitation, organizational management, and history education. Most recently, she served as the Executive Director of the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership at Kalamazoo College and the founding director of the Chicago Freedom School.

Other Presenters

Joining Mia Henry at each event will be members of the PLA Task Force on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice and other PLA leaders skilled in equity and social justice work in public libraries and communities.

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 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.