Racial Equity @ Contra Costa County Library

Submitted by CCCL_AlisonP

Library staff faced some challenges this summer after the murder of George Floyd, as peaceful protests for change played out across the country. Staff recognized that we needed to understand how we can stand up for and support BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) both within our library system and in our community.  

Staff on the relatively new Library Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity Committee (EDI) committee met with senior management and held conversations about racial inequity. The committee is dedicated to ensuring that our “services and collections are as inclusive and equitable as possible and accurately reflect the diversity of the population of Contra Costa County.” We talked about how we can improve diversity in all aspects of our library system - from hiring and retention, to how important it is to have a collection that reflects the diverse cultures and languages in Contra Costa County, to how we can equitably provide services to you, our patrons. We opened up about the discrimination people of color face every day, and how in this library system, we want to make sure that every person who walks in our doors feels welcome, that they get what they need. We noted that not only do we need to find ways to improve support for patrons, but also for internal staff. We realized that we needed some help.  

We have brought in Dr. Lori Watson, of Race-Work to lead staff through a series of what are often uncomfortable conversations about race in a down-to-earth and relatable manner. As Interim County Librarian Alison McKee (also on the EDI Committee) notes, “This training is an important step in furthering the Library's goal of equitable access for all and in becoming an anti-racist institution.”  

 As we get started with a two-year staff training initiative, we invite you to get to know Dr. Watson, and Race-Work. We’ll talk with Dr. Watson about what she does as a Racial Equity Consultant, how she got started in this work, why it’s so important, and what we’ll be doing in Contra Costa County Library to advance our own goals of racial equity. We also will share how we will bring that back to you, our community.