Dauphin County Library System affirms its role in fostering understanding and connecting a diverse community
HARRISBURG, PA -- Maintaining that these tense, divisive times are no time for libraries to remain silent, the staff and Board of Trustees of the Dauphin County Library System issued a strong statement today condemning racism and reinforcing The Library’s longstanding commitment to fostering understanding.
Karen Cullings, The Library’s executive director, said that the death of George Floyd and the inequities faced by so many other people of color inspired the board to speak out.
Cullings said Martin Luther King’s quote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” serves as a guidepost to The Library’s efforts to connect all segments of the community in kindness and to serve as a cornerstone of our democracy.
“We reject bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all forms. We stand for access. For everyone…. We need to be better. To be better, together,” the statement reads, in part.
“For more than 100 years, our core mission has involved providing access and opportunity for everyone, along with the safe exploration of ideas,” Cullings said. “In the fight for racial equality and social justice, libraries offer inclusion and acceptance. We invite every resident to be part of a place where everyone belongs.”
The Library’s plan is to join the community by speaking with action rather than intention. As a first step, with the help of community volunteers, The Library has compiled a reading list of thought provoking works it now owns and invites the community to engage in conversation and offer suggestions for additional resources.
A curated reading list to learn more about the history of racial injustice in the shared journey for healing is available at www.dcls.org/promotingunderstanding. Among the books included on The Library’s new reading list are The Youngest Marcher, The Day You Begin, Be Boy Buzz and Separate is Never Equal. To suggest additional books that could be added to The Library’s collection visit dcls.org/suggest_book.
As The Library reopens in a limited capacity today after an eight-week shutdown at the hands of COVID-19, the stage is set for additional dialogue, Cullings said.
“Our libraries serve as trusted spaces in the community, where people from all walks of life come to find jobs, learn new skills, examine new perspectives, connect with others, and grow in understanding,’’ Cullings said. “We do not take that trust lightly. We are not perfect at this, no library is, but with this statement and our daily actions, The Library commits to being open for listening and, as always, stands ready to be part of the solution.”