Critical Conversations Banner with Text What to Know about Intellecutal Freedom, Books Challenges, and Libraries

Critical Conversations

Knowing better, doing better.

View the What to Know About Intellectual Freedom, Book Challenges and Libraries with ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom presentation slides.

The State Library of Ohio and OhioNet hosted the 4th installment in the Critical Conversation Series – ”What to know about Intellectual Freedom, Book Challenges and Libraries”  with ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom on April 18, 2022 at 3:30 p.m. The 90-minute  presentation was geared toward Ohio library staff of all types. Library staff strive to provide their communities with diverse resources, programming, and services to ensure that the library is a welcoming and inclusive institution for everyone.  Attention is being turned toward access to materials on social-emotional learning, diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as access to books by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and LGTBQIA+ authors. Yet many libraries are seeing an uptick in challenges to programs and resources, as well as to library workers’ ability to serve their communities. Book challenges and censorship of library and/or classroom materials is unfortunately not a new phenomenon in librarianship, though headlines have been made in Texas, Philadelphia, Florida, Ohio, and many other states recently. Learn about these challenges and how to proactively respond via policy, procedure, and advocacy to build local and legislative support for your library.

In this installment of Critical Conversations, we learn about the current climate of Intellectual Freedom and Censorship from the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom (ALA, OIF).  Gaining knowledge and preparing library policies and procedures can help staff and administration feel prepared and confident in the intellectual freedom process.

After the presentations, Deborah Caldwell-Stone, Director of ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF) and Megan Cusick, Assistant Director, State Advocacy of ALA OIF,  and Kristin Pekoll, Assistant Director of ALA OIF will be in conversation with  Erin Kelsey, Library Consultant at the State Library of Ohio, about proactive strategies that prepare library directors, staff, and supporters to respond effectively to adverse issues and build a climate of support for their library. Scroll down for additional resources.

In partnership with OhioNet, Critical Conversations is supported by the State Library of Ohio with federal funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.


Deborah Caldwell-Stone, Director of ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom headshot
Deborah Caldwell-Stone

Headshot Megan Cusick, Assistant Director, State Advocacy for ALA Public Policy and Advocacy Office
Megan Cusick

Kristin Pekoll, assistant director of ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom headshot
Kristin Pekoll

Deborah Caldwell-Stone
Director, ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom

Deborah Caldwell-Stone is the Director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom and the Executive Director of the Freedom to Read Foundation. For the past two decades, she has worked closely with libraries, librarians, and trustees to address a wide range of intellectual freedom issues, including book bans, internet censorship, and the privacy of library users’ records. A recovering attorney, she advises ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee and its Privacy Subcommittee on law and policy issues. She has served on the faculty of the ALA-sponsored Lawyers for Libraries and Law for Librarians workshops and is a contributor to the 9th and 10th editions of the Intellectual Freedom Manual.

Megan Cusick
Assistant Director, Deputy Director, State Advocacy, ALA Public Policy & Advocacy Office

Megan Cusick is the Deputy Director for State Advocacy in ALA’s Public Policy and Advocacy office. She coordinates ALA’s state and local advocacy efforts in partnership with ALA offices and divisions; state chapters and affiliates; and librarians, library staff, and advocates across the country. Prior to joining ALA, Megan was a librarian in Chicago Public Schools and the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center; she is a co-founder of the Chicago Teachers Union librarians committee. She has presented and published on topics such as partnerships, library trends, civic engagement, intellectual freedom, and advocacy.

Kristin Pekoll
Assistant Director, ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom

Kristin Pekoll is Assistant Director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF). She is dedicated to promoting the right to read and providing education about intellectual freedom and the First Amendment. She is the author of “Beyond Banned Books: Defending Intellectual Freedom throughout Your Library” published by ALA Editions in 2019. Kristin shines a light on current book challenges in libraries and schools and advocates for access to information through blogs, social media and presentations. As a former public librarian, she is most passionate about supporting teachers and librarians on the front lines.


National Coalition Against Censorship’s Book Challenge Resource Center– This page contains resources to help you advocate for yourself, for your children, for your books, for your schools, in your own communities. Resources will be added and updated as they become available.

Toolkit of Challenge Resources– created by school librarian Martha Hickson. Hickson went through book challenges at her school and created this resource. It is regularly updated.

National Council of Teachers of English Intellectual Freedom Center –  helpful resource for educators.  NCTE recently announced a grant-funded partnership with Penguin Random House to create a book rationale database.

Defending Intellectual Freedom
Resource from the American Association of School Librarians includes a resource guide with links on how to address specific scenarios, infographics, and webinar archive.

Book Censorship Database
The EveryLibrary Institute and EveryLibrary are partnering with Dr. Tasslyn Magnusson, an independent researcher focused on the networks, organizations, and individual actors who are leading book banning and book challenge efforts in our nation’s school libraries and public libraries.

12 Resources for Navigating Materials Challenges in Your Library
From ABC-CLIO, a list of articles and webinars.

Stakeholders of the Status Quo
From OIF’s Intellectual Freedom Blog. As censorship attempts spread across the country, understanding who and what these organizations represent is an important piece toward preventing further threats to intellectual freedom in the U.S.

Hooray for Freedom! Part One: Privacy, Confidentiality, and Intellectual Freedom in the Library
Webinar by Webjunction. Hooray for Freedom! will help you assess your professional practice, give you the legal and ethical context to support democracy in your library, and help you identify practical ways to implement improvements. Part two focuses on Developing Policies in Support of Ethical Practice.

When the Anti-CRT Movement Comes for Collections by School Library Journal

School Libraries 2021: Librarians Face Coordinated Efforts to Remove Books by School Library Journal

Up to the Challenge: Books to Navigate Threats to Intellectual Freedom in American Libraries Magazine.

Librarians, Educators Warn of ‘Organized’ Book Banning Efforts in Publisher Weekly.

A beautiful and stirring speech by Melinda Lo as she accepts the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature for Last Night at the Telegraph Club. “I urge every one of you watching to educate yourselves about your school boards and vote in your local elections. 2022 is coming, and we need your support to keep our stories on the shelves. Don’t let them erase us. Thank you.”

View the Sustainable Thinking: What the World Needs Now with Rebekkah Smith Aldrich presentation slides

The State Library of Ohio and OhioNet hosted the 3rd installment in the Critical Conversation Series – Sustainable Thinking: What the World Needs Now with Rebekkah Smith Aldrich on September 8, 2021. The presentation was geared toward Ohio library staff of all levels and all library types.

Our future depends on all of us working together with empathy, respect, and understanding to adapt to the many challenges facing society. We will explore the importance of infusing the new core value of sustainability into everything we do, and demonstrate how libraries that lead into the future using ‘sustainable thinking’ fulfill our mission as libraries in new and innovative ways. ‘Sustainable Thinking’ is a concept that aligns the core values of libraries with the ‘Triple Bottom Line’ definition of sustainability. This consists of practices that are environmentally sound, economically feasible, and socially equitable. Libraries play an important and unique role in promoting community awareness about resilience, climate change, and a sustainable future.

After her presentation, Ms. Smith Aldrich had a conversation with Erin Kelsey, Library Consultant at the State Library of Ohio, about sustainable thinking about how it’s a great opportunity to start talking about and acting on these principles to better our libraries and communities.

Rebekkah Smith Aldrich

Headshot Rebekkah Smith AldrichRebekkah Smith Aldrich is currently the Executive Director of the Mid-Hudson Library System in upstate New York. Rebekkah is a co-founder of the award-winning Sustainable Libraries Initiative; Chair of the American Library Association’s Council Committee on Sustainability; an advisory board member for the Center for the Future of Libraries; and Library Journal’s sustainability columnist. Named a Library Journal Mover & Shaker,

Rebekkah is a frequent international speaker on the topic of how libraries contribute to more sustainable and resilient communities.


In partnership with OhioNet, Critical Conversations is supported by the State Library of Ohio with federal funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.



Sustainable Thinking: Ensuring Your Libraries Future in an Uncertain World by Rebekkah Smith Aldrich 
Aldrich shows that the first step towards a sustainable library is sustainable thinking: a determined yet realistic attitude that will help your library spot opportunities for institutional advancement, advocate for and safeguard operating funds, and generate intense loyalty from the communities you serve.

Resilience by Rebekkah Smith Aldrich
We live in uncertain times, and the ability to survive, adapt and thrive– whether an individual or an organization– is vital in our society. Aldrich re-centers the concept of resilience to show its alignment to the library profession’s values, and its usefulness for guiding our future roles in communities.

Public Libraries and Resilient Cities by Michael Dudley
Public libraries are keystone public institutions for any thriving community, and can be leaders in making cities better places to work, play, and live. Noted urban planner and librarian Dudley shows how public libraries can contribute to placemaking, or the creation and nurturing of vital and unique communities for their residents.


ALA Sustainability Round Table’s Zotero Library
A collection of books, articles, presentations, websites, blogs, projects and more that fall under the umbrella of sustainable libraries.

ALA Task Force on United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals
The International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) wants to show the power of libraries in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and has asked library associations around the world to join in a global effort.  ALA’s Task Force on United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), part of Julius C. Jefferson’s initiatives is developing a multi-year strategic plan to increase participation by libraries in efforts to achieve the Goals.

New Jersey State Library commissioned the Librarian’s Disaster Planning and Community Resiliency Guidebook (PDF) and Workbook</a< (PDF) to help libraries in New Jersey and across the country to be better prepared to accept the new mantle of responsibility being thrust on them as a safe haven in times of crises.

Programming Librarian- Environmental Sustainability
A great programming resource that now has an Environmental Sustainability tag. The link includes great ideas and information on providing valuable programming on this topic.

Project Drawdown
The definition of ”drawdown”- the point in the future when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and start to steadily decline, thereby stopping catastrophic climate change.  Project Drawdown is a leading resource for information and insight about climate solutions. We aim to support the growing constellation of efforts to move solutions forward and move the world toward drawdown—quickly, safely, and equitably.

Sixth Assessment Report, UN International Panel on Climate Change
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. The Working Group I contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report addresses the most up-to-date physical understanding of the climate system and climate change, bringing together the latest advances in climate science, and combining multiple lines of evidence from paleoclimate, observations, process understanding, and global and regional climate simulations.

Sustainable Libraries Initiative
An award-winning project to create leadership and provide tools to mobilize libraries to think and act sustainably. There is a paywall to access some of the resources.

Sustainability Column for Library Journal
Authored by Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, the column dives into the topic of sustainability and the 3 practices of the triple bottom line. Requires Library Journal login to read.

Sustainability and Libraries LibGuide
Resources for the library community to support sustainability through curriculum development, collections, exhibits, events, advocacy, communication, and library buildings and space design.

The Change Leadership Sustainability Demands-  MIT Sloan Management Review article. Sustainability initiatives can’t be driven through an organization the way other changes can. They have three distinct stages, and each requires different organizational capabilities and leadership competencies.

The Dewey Decibel Podcast- Libraries and Sustainability episode
In Episode 52, Dewey Decibel talks with librarians who are implementing sustainable practices in both their libraries and their lives.

The Wellbeing Index (Santa Monica, CA)
At the core of The Wellbeing Project is the Wellbeing Index, a measurement tool that provides an understanding of wellbeing in our community. The Index provides a baseline for understanding what contributes to wellbeing and how the city and community can work to improve it. By understanding more about what makes us thrive, we can work together on making meaningful changes in our community.

Sustainability in Libraries Series by American Libraries Magazine
Cleveland State University librarian Mandi Goodsett talks about bringing sustainability programs to talk about the local and global impact of the research.

Yale Program on Climate Change Communication
The program conducts scientific research on public climate change knowledge, attitudes, policy preferences, and behavior, and the underlying psychological, cultural, and political factors that influence them. They also engage the public in climate change science and solutions, in partnership with governments, media organizations, companies, and civil society, and with a daily, national radio program, Yale Climate Connections.

The State Library of Ohio and OhioNet are excited to contribute to the conversation about staff advocacy with an online, recorded live presentation and Q&A titled Vocational Awe: Examining the Cost of Your Service with Fobazi Ettarh (Rutgers University). The webinar was held October 7 at 2 p.m. and geared toward Ohio library staff of all levels and all library types. WE APOLOGIZE THAT THERE ARE SOME ISSUES WITH THE SOUND RECORDING DURING THE FIRST 9 MINUTES.   Click here to view the video via YouTube.

“Vocational awe refers to the set of ideas, values, and assumptions librarians have about themselves and the profession that result in beliefs that libraries as institutions are inherently good and sacred, and therefore beyond critique.”  In this session, Fobazi Ettarh will discuss the theory of vocational awe and how combined with the value of service has created a toxic framework of leadership that cannot grow or adapt to the ever-changing world in which we live.  Ms. Ettarh will build upon this foundation and reveal the hidden costs of service that vocational awe demands, and how you can encourage yourself and others to push beyond this framework.  For it is only by breaking this framework can we as library workers and as a field can truly be of service to ourselves as well as our patrons.

Fobazi M. Ettarh
Fobazi M. is currently the Undergraduate Success Librarian at Rutgers Newark. A school librarian by training, she specializes in information literacy instruction, K-12 pedagogy, and co-curricular outreach. Her research focuses on the decolonization of white supremacy in librarianship. She is the creator of the open-access video game Killing Me Softly: A Game About Microaggressions, which leads the user through the personal and professional effects of ongoing microaggressions. Recently, she coined and defined the concept of vocational awe, as seen in the article Vocational Awe : The Lies We Tell Ourselves. She is a 2020 Library Journal Mover and Shaker and author of the blog WTF is a Radical Librarian? which examines the intersections of librarianship, labor, identity and diversity.

In partnership with OhioNet, Critical Conversations is supported by the State Library of Ohio with federal funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.


Vocational Awe and Librarianship: The Lies We Tell Ourselves by Fobazi Ettarh – Vocational awe describes the set of ideas, values, and assumptions librarians have about themselves and the profession that result in notions that libraries as institutions are inherently good, sacred notions, and therefore beyond critique. I argue that the concept of vocational awe directly correlates to problems within librarianship like burnout and low salary. This article aims to describe the phenomenon and its effects on library philosophies and practices so that they may be recognized and deconstructed.

Vocational Awe  by Anne Helen Petersen- newsletter by Anne Helen Peterson published September 6. The author addresses a recent article asking why libraries can’t serve as mail-in ballot receptacles. She discusses the library’s role in the election and other social services and how that related to vocational awe.

The Contours of Clergy Burnout newsletter by Anne Helen Peterson published September 24. The author discusses burnout as it relates to clergy and those dedicated to a religious calling.  

In the Name of Love by Miya Tokumitsu– published in January of 2014. Excerpt from the article- “There’s little doubt that “do what you love” (DWYL) is now the unofficial work mantra for our time. The problem is that it leads not to salvation, but to the devaluation of actual work, including the very work it pretends to elevate — and more importantly, the dehumanization of the vast majority of laborers.” 

White Supremacy Culture (PDF) by James and Okun- This is a list of characteristics of white supremacy culture that show up in our organizations.  

Burnout: What It Is and Some Ways to Address It In Ourselves and In Organizations by Dean Spade. The author describes some of the symptoms and feelings that emerge with overwork. He discusses ways to address overwork and burnout within an organization and how to move towards a better balance.  

Kaetrena Davis Kendrick’s work on Low Morale (Public Librarians) (Academic Librarians-Paywall) 

Other Duties as Assigned: Front-Line Librarians and the Constant Pressure to Do More – as told to Anne Ford for American Libraries Magazine. Social worker, EMT, therapist, legal consultant, even bodily defender: These are the roles that many (perhaps most?) librarians feel they’re being asked to assume. American Libraries asked seven librarians—public, academic, and school; urban and rural—their thoughts about the many directions in which their profession finds itself pulled.

Resisting Vocational Awe During the Pandemic – Opinion by Suzanne LaPierre in Public Libraries Online. LaPierre writes about how Ms. Ettarh’s concept of vocational awe during a pandemic could be harmful to library staff as individuals, the general profession, and the public.

Move and a Shaker?  – Website and blog post by Fobazi Ettarh regarding her recent Library Journal Mover and Shaker nomination.

Pandemic Resources for Academic Libraries: Advocating for Library Workers During Uncertain Times – libguide by Association of College and Research Librarians with helpful links and information about staff advocacy.

Library COVID-19 Solidarity Network Advocates for Closing Libraries by Lisa Peet – Library Journal article about COVID-19 Solidarity Network, organized by Library Freedom Project’s Alison Macrina, bringing together public and academic library staff to advocate for full library closure throughout the United States.

Kernel of Knowledge Webinar Series – Expert-speaker webinar series from the Greater Midwest Region which provides one-hour sessions on topics of interest to Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM) members throughout the year.

Library Responses to COVID-19: Ongoing Impacts of Low Morale Experiences with Kaetrena Davis Kendrick, MSLS – Part of the Kernel of Knowledge webinar series. As the COVID-19 Pandemic develops and libraries create immediate, short-term, and long-term responses, Kendrick has been tracking these responses’ impact on already established low-morale experiences. Kendrick will summarize the markers and impacts of low-morale experiences, share the latest results of her survey, and answer attendees’ questions about the survey and/or low morale experiences. Countermeasures to workplace abuse and neglect will also be discussed.

Putting the Self Back in Self Care: Wellness in the Time of COVID-19 – Part of the Kernel of Knowledge webinar series. Whether you are working remotely or within the library building, COVID-19 has changed the way we work and live. In a profession where the desire to serve the public often subsumes the needs of library workers, our panelists will share strategies for self-care as well as tips for overcoming challenges related to (re)creating a work-life balance that can be done for free, remotely or in the building.

The State Library of Ohio and Bexley Public Library was excited to contribute to this conversation that was an online, live presentation and Q&A titled Making Sense of the Moment: The Library’s Role in Helping Us Understand Race and Racism.  The virtual event was held August 14 at 10 a.m. and the presentation was geared toward Ohio library staff of all levels and all library types.

In this session, Dr. Hasan KwameJeffries began by exploring the roots of race and racism in American society by examining the centrality of slavery to the nation’s founding and highlighting the continuing impact of slavery’s legacy. His presentation took an honest look at how our nation’s past is the key to understanding the persistence of racial inequality today and is essential to creating a more equitable and democratic tomorrow. Dr. Jeffries built upon this foundation to specifically examine the role of libraries and library workers in the context of antiracism work.

After his presentation, Dr. Jeffries had a conversation with Erin Kelsey, Library Consultant at the State Library of Ohio, about how race and racism impacts the work of libraries and how library workers are integral to building equity in our communities.

Hasan Kwame Jeffries

Hasan Kwame Jeffries is associate professor of History at The Ohio State University where he has been teaching courses on the Civil Rights and Black Power Movement for the last eighteen years.

He earned a BA in history from Morehouse College in 1994 and a PhD in American history with a specialization in African American history from Duke University in 2002.

He is the author of Bloody Lowndes: Civil Rights and Black Power in Alabama’s Black Belt. Most recently he edited Understanding and Teaching the Civil Rights Movement, a book of essays by leading civil rights scholars on how to teach the Civil Rights Movement. He also wrote and narrated the 10-episode Audible Original series Great Figures of the Civil Rights Movement, which was released in February 2020.

In the classroom, he has won several major teaching awards, including The Ohio State University Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching, the university’s highest award for teaching.

Dr. Jeffries has worked on several public history projects, including serving as the lead historian for the five-year, $25 million renovation of the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. He is also the host of the podcast Teaching Hard History: American Slavery, a production of the Teaching Tolerance division of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which just wrapped up its second season.

In partnership with Bexley Public Library, Making Sense of the Moment is supported by the State Library of Ohio with federal funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Bexley Pub Library and State Library logos

The following list of resources is developing and should not be considered comprehensive.

Resources for Individual Antiracism Work


How to Fight Racism Through Inner work

Mindfulness meditation may hold the key to grappling with interpersonal racism, says Rhonda Magee, because it helps people tolerate the discomfort that comes with deeper discussions about race. And it can help cultivate a sense of belonging and community for those who experience and fight racism in our everyday lives.

Kirwan Institute Implicit Bias Module Series
The Kirwan Institute at The Ohio State University is committed to the creation of a just and inclusive society, where all people and communities have the opportunity to succeed. Their commitment to this mission is why they work so hard to understand and overcome barriers that prevent access to opportunity in our society, such as implicit bias and racial disparities in our education system.

This course will introduce you to insights about how our minds operate and help you understand the origins of implicit associations. You will also uncover some of your own biases and learn strategies for addressing them. Each module is divided into a short series of lessons, many taking less than 10 minutes to complete. That way, even if you’re pressed for time, you can complete the lessons and modules at your convenience.

Teaching Hard History

From Teaching Tolerance and host Dr. Hasan Kwame Jeffries, Teaching Hard History brings us the lessons we should have learned in school through the voices of leading scholars and educators. It’s good advice for teachers and good information for everybody  

TedXOhioStateUniversity – Confronting Hard History (link to Youtube video)

In this  talk Dr. Hasan Kwame Jeffries explores why confronting Hard History is so difficult and yet so necessary. It also explains how to face the most difficult elements of our past

TedXOhioStateUniversity – Ideas for a Better Future  (link to Youtube video)

Speakers like Kimberlé Crenshaw, Bryan Stevenson, and Dr. Hasan Kwame Jeffries give short talks on topics ranging from the importance of intersectionality, systemic racism, confronting hard history, and more.

Vocational Awe and Librarianship: The Lies We Tell Ourselves   by Fobazi Ettarh

From the article brief- “Vocational awe describes the set of ideas, values, and assumptions librarians have about themselves and the profession that result in notions that libraries as institutions are inherently good, sacred notions, and therefore beyond critique. This article aims to describe the phenomenon and its effects on library philosophies and practices so that they may be recognized and deconstructed.

You can’t Meditate Your Way Out of This- Ten Percent Happier Podcast

There is fury in America’s streets – and we, as meditators, have the opportunity to use our practice to do the hard work of seeing things clearly (including the ugliness in our own minds), and responding wisely. I’m incredibly grateful to my guest, meditation teacher Sebene Selassie, for agreeing to come on this show on short notice (like, two hours beforehand) to discuss such a painful subject. This episode is in response to the protests that have broken out nationwide in the wake of the case of George Floyd, a black man who died after nearly nine minutes with his neck under the knee of a white police officer in Minneapolis. Our conversation is personal and raw. Most of all, we hope it is useful.


Anti-Racism Resources

Compiled by Sarah Sophie Flicker & Alyssa Klein. A list of podcasts, articles, films, and books to deepen anti-racism work. this list can be used as a personal resource or shared as a resource to the communities you serve.

Community, Connecting, Cultivating & Constructing Conversations Through Literacy

This list was a collaborative effort between the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA) and the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA). Titles on this list were compiled by members of BCALA and members of ALSC’s Quicklists Consulting Committee. ALSC’s Board of Directors endorses BCALA’s statement condemning increased violence and racism toward Black Americans and people of color and stands in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, BCALA, and those working to dismantling racial capitalism and white supremacy in all of its forms.

Know your reader: Some titles may include mature content. Parents, caregivers and educators are encouraged to discuss these experiences with their children.

Community, Connecting, Cultivating & Constructing Conversations Through Literacy Reading list (Preschool – 8th Grade) 260KB PDF

High-Resolution version 810KB PDF

How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

Antiracism is a transformative concept that reorients and reenergizes the conversation about racism—and, even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. In How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi takes readers through a widening circle of antiracist ideas—from the most basic concepts to visionary possibilities—that will help readers see all forms of racism clearly, understand their poisonous consequences, and work to oppose them in our systems and in ourselves.

Kendi weaves an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science with his own personal story of awakening to antiracism. This is an essential work for anyone who wants to go beyond the awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a just and equitable society.

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown

Austin Channing Brown’s first encounter with a racialized America came at age seven, when she discovered her parents named her Austin to deceive future employers into thinking she was a white man. Growing up in majority-white schools and churches, Austin writes, “I had to learn what it means to love blackness,” a journey that led to a lifetime spent navigating America’s racial divide as a writer, speaker, and expert helping organizations practice genuine inclusion.

In a time when nearly every institution (schools, churches, universities, businesses) claims to value diversity in its mission statement, Austin writes in breathtaking detail about her journey to self-worth and the pitfalls that kill our attempts at racial justice. Her stories bear witness to the complexity of America’s social fabric—from Black Cleveland neighborhoods to private schools in the middle-class suburbs, from prison walls to the boardrooms at majority-white organizations.

Mindful of Race: Transforming Racism from the Inside Out by Ruth King

Racism is a heart disease, writes Ruth King, and it’s curable. Exploring a crucial topic seldom addressed in meditation instruction, this revered teacher takes to her pen to shine a compassionate, provocative, and practical light into a deeply neglected and world-changing domain profoundly relevant to all of us. Drawing on her expertise as a meditation teacher and diversity consultant, King helps readers of all backgrounds examine with fresh eyes the complexity of racial identity and the dynamics of oppression. She offers guided instructions on how to work with our own role in the story of race and shows us how to cultivate a culture of care to come to a place of greater clarity and compassion

So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

In So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo guides readers of all races through subjects ranging from intersectionality and affirmative action to “model minorities” in an attempt to make the seemingly impossible possible: honest conversations about race and racism, and how they infect almost every aspect of American life.

Resources to discuss racism within the library culture and in your community

Dismantling White Supremacy In Libraries

By Kelly Jensen. A thought-provoking article discussing ways to dismantle harmful systems within a library organization.

Disrupting Whiteness in Libraries

This bibliography contains citations and links (when available) to resources focused on race, racism, and disrupting whiteness and white supremacy in libraries. Particular emphasis is placed on the field of library and information science and librarianship as a profession. The resources are organized by topic; non-LIS-specific resources can be found at the bottom of the list. Updates to the list will be highlighted at the top with the date. “New” indicates a new addition to this guide, not necessarily a newly-published resource.

Talking About Race

From the National Museum of African American History and Culture, a set of 8 self-paced modules on topics including bias, community-building, whiteness, and self-care.

Resources for library administrations, boards, and managers

Advancing Racial Equity in Public Libraries: Case Studies From the Field (PDF)

Brief from the Local and Regional Government Alliance on Racial Equity. This Issue Brief profiles a handful of public libraries that are leveraging the power and influence of their institutions to advance racial equity in library work and beyond. These libraries are using a shared framework and toolset while developing innovative local approaches to reduce race-based disparities. In doing so, they are beginning to see positive transformations in collections, partnerships, the library workforce, programming and — ultimately — communities.

Anti-Racism Guide: Resources for Education and Action

The guide is compiled to flow from educating users to the topics of racism and anti-racism, taking a deeper dive into details and exploration of the scholarship, delivering educational resources to use in the classroom or for self-education, and then to build sustained and actionable practices for individuals and institutions. In particular, the section “Systemic Racism: Digging Deeper” there is a “Digging Deeper by Discipline” section that offers many resources for academic, k-12, and public libraries.

Doing the Work Internally and Externally: Race, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion  (Webjunction webinar)

This webinar highlights the work of Richland Library staff as they work, both externally and internally, to improve dialogue and understanding on topics of race, equity, diversity and inclusion.

DPL Advancing Racial Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace Symposium (link to Youtube video below)

Footage from the 2020 Denver Public Library Advancing Racial Equity & Inclusion in the Workplace Symposium.

Project READY

The Project READY curriculum is a series of free, online, self-paced professional development modules for school and public youth services librarians, library administrators, and others. Project READY is for anyone interested in improving their knowledge about race, racism, and racial equity, and interested in improving relationships with, services to, and resources for youth of color and Native youth through inclusive environments and programs.

State of Ohio’s Plan of Action to Advance Equity

This document, the Ohio Executive Response, is a culmination of commitments resulting from state leadership discussions that will guide the state enterprise as we embark on a strategic planning process. The process will advance equity in Ohio’s systems; promote diversity, equity and inclusion in state workplaces; embed equity in our programs and policy; and provide tools for our statewide partners to advance equity in public service.

COVID-19 Ohio Minority Health Strike Force Blueprint

The purpose of this blueprint is to provide actionable recommendations to both eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in COVID-19 and other health outcomes and improve overall well-being for communities of color in Ohio. Prompted by the deep-seated health inequities exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, this blueprint goes beyond the current crisis to establish a vision of Ohio as a model of justice, equity, opportunity, and resilience to withstand future challenges.

Universal Design in Space Planning

A Design Statement for the Mary Free Bed YMCA in Grand rapids, MI. The Statement of Design provides a succinct description of Universal Design and how it was applied to this public space. This can serve as inspiration or a jumping off point to a discussion about planning library spaces.

What Makes a Successful Place?

Great public spaces are those places where celebrations are held, social and economic exchanges occur, friends run into each other, and cultures mix. They are the “front porches” of our public institutions – libraries, field houses, schools – where we interact with each other and government. When theses spaces work well, they serve as the stage for our public lives.  What makes some places succeed while others fail?

Critical Conversations is a series of online presentations featuring thought-provoking topics and big-picture issues impacting the Ohio library community. These events are sponsored by the State Library of Ohio and OhioNET and supported with federal funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Critical Conversations feature regional and national speakers from both inside and outside the library community. Intended for staff at all levels, we welcome everyone working at any size or type of library, museum, or cultural heritage institution to participate. The live events are free to attend.

Each presentation will include timely resource material on the topic, and all registrants will be invited to submit questions ahead of time. Each Critical Conversations presentation will be recorded and made available to all via this webpage and the State Library of Ohio’s YouTube channel.