Multnomah County Library: committed to meaningful change

The words We Must Act in white on a black square background
Over the past days and weeks, we have witnessed horrific and senseless anti-Black violence that has taken place at the hands of police and others. George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor are among the lives lost most recently, but this violence has been embedded into the fabric of our society since 1619. Outrage, pain and deep sadness are at the forefront for many of our staff, patrons and community members. 

Multnomah County Library stands in solidarity and in support of our Black community, not just in this moment of crisis but as we look forward to working collectively to end inequity and systemic racism in our community and across the country. To combat the systemic racism that has perpetuated violence and inequities in our communities of color, we must act, not just feel. Multnomah County Library is taking action and we will expand those actions.

As Director, I will:

  • Affirm and validate the harm that hundreds of years of racism and oppression causes and has caused Black, Indigenous, People of Color and other marginalized communities
  • Lead the library’s efforts with race at the fore
  • Center Black, Indigenous, People of Color and other marginalized communities in our service
  • Rethink the library’s exclusionary history and redefine the library’s legacy through action
  • Check my own biases and assumptions alongside those of the institution I lead

Finally and importantly, I want to honor library staff—and one member, in particular, Elle Budd, a Library Assistant on the Black Cultural Library Advocates team—who started something incredible in the past few days. Elle took the brave step of emailing hundreds of their colleagues to share perspective and resources around the history of violent protest in America in an effort  “. . . to cultivate a very different culture here at the library where we talk about anti blackness, whiteness, white supremacy, racism, and how we as an institution are working to uphold it.” It was the perfect step in that moment.

Others engaged, expressing support, gratitude, solidarity, acknowledgement, willingness to hear and learn and offered even more resources. I will list some of those below but—to me—this was especially resonant, Sam Cooke's incredible and inspiring A Change is Gonna Come

Here’s a portion of what library staff have shared with their peers:

And here are some additional resources from the library’s website:

This library will be part of the change that’s gonna come.

Vailey