The Cedar Rapids Public Library holds equity as one of our guiding principles and inclusion as a strategy for growth.
Throughout history, institutions like public libraries have striven to be open for all, while at the same time continuing long-standing modes of institutional racism. The Cedar Rapids Public Library has made steps forward in the past several years, but there is much work to be done. Our first step was signing on as a supporting institution to the Urban Libraries Council’s Statement on Race on Social Equity included below. The steps that followed have included bias training for all staff, convening programs and community conversations, working with community partners on restorative justice, examining hiring practices, and removing library fines. We are currently examining our behavior policy through an equity lens process with the City of Cedar Rapids.
These are steps along a long road forward, and we are committed to keep walking. As an entity that strives to be “a beacon of literacy to all who seek knowledge and understanding” and “compassionate navigators to the information, resources, and entertainment” our community is looking for, we have to ensure that we are not unintentionally falling into the traps of the past and excluding patrons that absolutely are welcome at our libraries.
Our mission is to connect people to information, experiences, and services that enhance their quality of life so our community can learn, enjoy, and thrive. That means all people. Acknowledging that our traditional methods of working have been exclusionary and at times racist is the first step towards a truly thriving community and library.
We stand with our staff, patrons, trustees, and community in the refusal to accept racism in our country, and are committed to educating ourselves and providing resources for all who would like to learn to be better with us.
Urban Libraries Council Statement on Race and Equity:
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.