Engaged and Inclusive: Libraries Embracing Racial Equity and Social Justice

Racially diverse audience image for PLA On-Demand WebinarsPublic libraries across the country readily embrace their role as centers for democracy and civic participation. But what role should libraries play in advancing social justice and addressing persistent racial inequities? When it comes to community transformation, how can a social justice lens and racial equity tools guide us to be more engaged and inclusive at all levels of our work?

Whether your community is a site of major political action or feels a million miles away from Ferguson or Baltimore, issues of current and historical injustice are present in your community every day. Learn how public libraries can engage in meaningful social justice and racial equity work by leveraging their existing strengths, supporting transformational relationships, and developing new tools to support social change.

Hear from three librarians who are working to center social justice and racial equity in their day-to-day work. Core principles of diversity, equity, and social justice will be defined. Whether you are management or front line staff, you’ll gain concrete resources and ideas that will help you feel empowered to step into these conversations and deepen community engagement.

This archived webinar was originally presented June 8, 2016.

Running time: 1 hour, 3 minutes


At the conclusion of this on-demand webinar, participants will:

  • Understand the role public libraries have to play in social justice, including how this approach relates to and differs from civic engagement and community outreach;
  • Take away concrete programmatic ideas and inspiration for ways public libraries can operate as a platform for social justice action and learning; and
  • Know tools libraries can use to advance racial equity and social justice within your institution, and to better understand and inform outward-facing initiatives and internal culture.

Who Should Attend

Public library staff at all levels. Appropriate for those with no, little, or some previous knowledge of social justice topics.


Sarah LawtonSarah Lawton has worked for public libraries in Colorado, Vermont, and Wisconsin, and is currently neighborhood library supervisor at Madison (Wis.) Public Library. A 2009 ALA Emerging Leader, Sarah's recent work focuses on collaborating with diverse communities, community organizations and local government agencies to foster greater social cohesion and promote equitable access to opportunity.


Amita LonialAmita Lonial is currently the learning experiences manager at Skokie (Ill.) Public Library, where she oversees public programming for birth through seniors. She is passionate about the role libraries play in creating resilient and equitable communities and was recently named a Library Journal "Mover and Shaker." Prior to becoming a librarian she spent eight years in the non-profit sector advocating for racial and social justice.



Amy SonnieAmy Sonnie coordinates civic engagement and adult literacy programs for Oakland (Calif.) Public Library. She is a co-founder and board officer of the Center for Media Justice, a national network advancing media rights, access, and representation for marginalized communities. She is the author of two books on 20th century social movements for LGBTQ rights, feminism, economic justice, and racial equity.





  • $28 each (less 10% discount for ALA/PLA members)


  • $119 each (less 10% discount for ALA/PLA members)

If access to this on-demand webinar will be shared with multiple people—viewing either on an individual basis or gathered together in a single location—then the group rate applies.

This on-demand webinar is intended for the sole use of the purchaser, whether an individual or group. Redistribution or rebroadcast to another individual or group other than the purchaser is prohibited. Thank you for your cooperation.


This preview is limited to a brief portion near the beginning of the recording and does not include full on-demand webinar content. To register and access the full content, follow the instructions below.

How to Register

Please note: As ALA transitions to a new, centralized eLearning site, this on-demand webinar is temporarily unavailable for one-click purchase via the ALA Store. If you’d like to purchase this on-demand webinar, please contact PLA at plawebinars@ala.org.

If you will be viewing alone or with one other viewer, please purchase at the individual rate. If you plan on viewing this on-demand webinar with a group of 3 or more people, please purchase at the group rate. Group access is for a single library, including all its branches/outlets. It applies if an on-demand webinar will be viewed by multiple people—viewing on an individual basis and/or in groups. Please contact plawebinars@ala.org for special pricing if you wish to share access to an on-demand webinar across multiple libraries in a consortium.

The purchase of an on-demand webinar includes instructions and a password to access the archived recording of the webinar. You'll have access to the on-demand webinar for one year from date of purchase.

On-demand webinar are intended for the sole use of the purchaser, whether an individual or group. Neither individual nor group purchase includes permission to rebroadcast or redistribute this webinar. Thank you for your cooperation.

Tech Requirements

To playback this on-demand webinar you should have either the latest version of Flash running on your computer, or use a browser with native HTML5 support. Please use the most up-to-date version available of Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, or Internet Explorer. A fast Internet connection and computer is recommended.

We suggest that groups, especially larger groups, plan ahead to use an LCD/LED projector in the room to project the webinar recording. Groups will also want to have speakers capable of amplifying the webinar audio for the entire room.

Credits or CEUs

PLA does not award certificates of completion, credit hours, or CEUs for its on-demand webinars and cannot verify participation.


If you have questions or problems accessing a recording, send a message to plawebinars@ala.org, or call 800-545-2433 ext. 5PLA.