Public 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 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 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 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.
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How to Register
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