Among the Central Arkansas Library System’s core values is a commitment to respecting different perspectives and providing access to information and services to all. To that end, the CALS Board of Trustees has signed the Urban Libraries Council’s Statement on Race and Social Equity. This statement serves as a baseline upon which libraries can build policies and actions that make their communities more inclusive and just. The statement reads as follows:
As leaders of North America’s public libraries, we are committed to achieving racial and social equity by contributing to a more just society in which all community members can realize their full potential. Our libraries can help achieve true and sustained equity through an intentional, systemic and transformative library-community partnership. Our library systems are working to achieve equity in the communities we serve by:
• 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
Libraries are trusted, venerable and enduring institutions, central to their communities and an essential participant in the movement for racial and social equity.
STATEMENT FROM CENTRAL ARKANSAS LIBRARY SYSTEM BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Recent events have shown that we, as Americans, still have a long path to justice, healing, and understanding, especially in the treatment of our African American and other marginalized communities. CALS Executive Director Nate Coulter posted a statement about the recent police involved killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and others whose names are not a part of the national story. He also offered ways for CALS to participate in addressing a part of the solution, so as a Board, we want to add our voice to his.
Acts of racism, violence, and injustice toward one another, particularly toward our communities of color, are a stark reminder that we all must do our personal best to make our own Central Arkansas Library System community fair, inclusive, and just. CALS’ fundamental mission is and has always been to, “help residents reach their full potential, and to inspire discovery, learning, and cultural expression.” A thriving equitable community benefits us all. To that end, we pledge our resources, creativity, and sustained effort to build true racial and social equity in our community.
Central Arkansas Library System 2020 Board of Directors
Nancy Rousseau, Vice-President
Brandon Grice, Treasurer
Stephanie Gibson Branton