Reflections on this week

"This is a time for listening, for understanding, and for action."

At the end of a week of sadness, anger, and awareness, we reflect again on these very raw issues, and voice our continued support for — and solidarity with — the communities who have risen up in protest against overt and systemic racism.

We join you in the grief and anger that has arisen in response to the killing of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis.  We join you in condemning the racism that has been exposed afresh, and recognize that his is also yet another name for us to learn and to add to the list of those who have needlessly and avoidably had their lives taken.

This is a time for words, for listening, for understanding, and for action.

Over the entrance to the Boston Public Library's McKim building are etched the words "Free to All."  Our institution is founded on principles of inclusion and ensuring equal access to opportunity and the equity work that must underpin it.  Every single day, we must put these words into practice, working to ensure that all are indeed, free.  We do this by standing against racism, as well as sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and all other forms of systemic oppression.

This is our responsibility.

Our only choice is about how to do this work, not if we should.

We are an institution that, at its heart, collects and disseminates information.  In the spirit of centering Black voices, and in helping those who are coming to terms with privilege, we chose action first and have offered the following resources throughout the week, and we share them again here.

We are also proud to be signatories to the Urban Library Council’s Statement on Race and Social Equity, through which we, along with 150 other urban public libraries, have committed to:

  • Eliminating racial and social equity barriers in library programs, services, policies and practices
  • Creating and maintaining an environment of diversity, inclusion and respect both in our library systems and in all aspects of our community role
  • Ensuring that we are reaching and engaging disenfranchised people in the community and helping them express their voice
  • Serving as a convener and facilitator of conversations and partnerships to address community challenges
  • Being forthright on tough issues that are important to our communities

While words are our business, words must also lead to action.  What we do next, and how we do it, will define us more than our past history -- whether that is the history of the last days, the last weeks, or the last 400 years.

We wish strength and perseverance to all in the face of challenges and trauma, especially to those who also belong to communities of color, who have borne, and continue to bear, the brunt of these injustices.

Our commitment and our work continues.

On behalf of the entire staff of the Boston Public Library,

— David Leonard