Molly Raphael receives Arthur Flemming Civil Rights Award

Multnomah County Library director lauded for increasing diversity

PORTLAND, OR – Molly Raphael, the Director of Libraries for Multnomah County, has been awarded the Arthur Flemming Civil Rights Award for her efforts to increase diversity in library employment, collections and programming. This award is given by the Managers of Color affinity group of Multnomah County.

According to the nomination, Raphael has been outstanding in her "commitment to increasing diversity in the library's workforce to better reflect and serve the community . she has been an active voice and supporter of creating more bilingual and bicultural positions and services."

Since Raphael's arrival at the library in 2003, diversity of library staffing as measured by the number of employees of color who work at the library has increased by 50 percent, while the number of bilingual positions has increased by 209 percent, from 11 to 34.

Similarly, Raphael's dedication to increasing the library's cultural competency has been reflected in improved services to Multnomah County's growing immigrant community. Culturally appropriate programming for speakers of Spanish, Russian, Vietnamese and Chinese has expanded from 13 programs in 2004 to 162 programs in 2007, drawing thousands to bilingual storytimes, annual celebrations such as Lunar New Year, and other events.

The Arthur Flemming Award was created in 1996 by the City-County Affirmative Action Office. It is named for the late Dr. Arthur Flemming, former provost of the University of Oregon and the first chair of the Federal Rights Commission. The award is given to an employee or group of employees who exemplify the commitment of Arthur Flemming, recognizing initiatives and/or efforts designed to promote diversity, take risks, and demonstrate a commitment to equity of opportunity and services to all.

The Managers of Color group has been a recognized affinity group within Multnomah County since 1992. The group is dedicated to developing and maintaining organizational diversity, equity and opportunity; and promoting customer-focused, culturally competent services.