Anti-Racism

Our journey has begun. We are intentional about this work, how it touches everything we do, and our efforts to:

  • Provide broad, effective, and equitable access to resources.
  • Invite everyone into library spaces that are welcoming, safe, and inspiring.
  • Attract and retain a library staff that reflects the diversity of our community.
  • Facilitate connections among diverse audiences through shared community aspirations and experiences.

This page includes the information and resources to get us started. We know we have work to do, and we are committed to doing it both as an organization serving Oak Park and as individuals who work at your library.

Libraries Are For Everyone: Black Lives Matter
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Black Lives Matter

  • As your public library, we are committed as an organization and as individuals to dismantle the systems of oppression that have created, and that fuel, racist conditions. Read more »
  • As a member of the Urban Libraries Council, the Oak Park Public Library shares the commitment of other library leaders to dismantle systemic racism. Read more »
  • As members of the American Library Association, we accept and acknowledge the organization’s role in upholding unjust systems of racism and discrimination against Black, Indigenous, and People of Color within the association and the profession. We recognize that the founding of our Association was not built on inclusion and equity, but instead was built on systemic racism and discrimination in many forms. We also recognize the hurt and harm done to BIPOC library workers and communities due to these racist structures. Read more »

Our library’s anti-racism journey

As we continue to turn outward to our community, we commit to an anti-racism journey that involves working with a consultant, Reesheda Graham Washington & RGW Consulting, LLC. Her international experience and local awareness make her uniquely positioned to lead us on this journey.

Establishing a Black staff affinity group

Based on Washington’s anti-racism assessment report for our library, one of our first priorities this summer is to establish a Black staff affinity group to convene, converse, and be guided to a space where members can ultimately feel comfortable convening themselves and setting their own objectives.

Assembling a preliminary anti-racism advisory team

The ultimate goal is to convene a cross-section of stakeholders (administrators, staff, patrons, board representation, and young adults) who will work together to develop new protocols that shape the library’s strategic direction. Working directly with RGW Consulting to develop this team, we are taking this opportunity to share below the names of the proposed candidates to work with us on the plan development. We will ask for community feedback on this group’s representation before making it official.

We currently have identified a team of 10 participants so that we are able to follow best practices as it pertains to physical distancing, while still meeting both technologically and in person to carry out this work. The following individuals have accepted the invitation to create the library’s Anti-Racism and Equity Strategic Plan:

  • Aaron Alonzo, Supervisor of Public Safety, Oak Park Public Library
  • LeVar Ammons, Executive Director of Equity & Student Success, District 200
  • Virginia Bloom-Scheirer, Oak Park Public Library Trustee
  • Reesheda Graham Washington, CEO, RGW Consulting, LLC
  • Juanta Griffin, Multicultural Learning Coordinator, Oak Park Public Library
  • Stephen Jackson, Teen Services Coordinator, Oak Park Public Library
  • Sydney Jackson, Community Member-at-Large
  • David J. Seleb, Executive Director, Oak Park Public Library
  • Tatiana Swancy, Adult Services Specialist, Oak Park Public Library
  • Sarah Yale, Manager of Community Engagement, Oak Park Public Library

We are both invigorated by and hopeful about each member’s willingness to participate in what we expect will be a challenging yet fortifying road ahead. We will finalize the invitations and move forward with strategic plan development starting the second week of July. Should you have any questions or further considerations, please do contact the library’s executive director, David J. Seleb, at 708.697.6911 or at davids@oppl.org.

Engaging the library’s elected Board of Library Trustees and Leadership Team

Beginning in June and continuing through August, this work includes discussions around posturing, developing a shared language, and conditions for anti-racism work. It is also to ensure leadership readiness and capacity for the implementation of the 2021 anti-racism strategic plan.

Community allies

Anti-racism resources available from your library

An Oak Park team led by Collection Management Librarians Jenna Friebel and Dontaná McPherson-Joseph is currently curating two new comprehensive title lists for books, media, articles, websites, and more. Grouped by age and format (physical or digital), recommended items will focus on two main themes:

To learn more about the library’s anti-racism journey

Contact the library’s Executive Director David J. Seleb at davids@oppl.org or 708.697.6911.

Stay current on news and new arrivals.

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