Background photo by Jerome Paulos of Black Lives Matter protest and headshot photo of presenter with webinar title in foreground

Critical Conversations

The State Library of Ohio and Bexley Public Library are excited to contribute to this conversation with 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 will be held August 14 at 10 a.m. and a recording will be shared with those who cannot attend live. The presentation is geared toward Ohio library staff of all levels and all library types.

In this session, Dr. Hasan KwameJeffries will begin 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 will take 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 will build upon this foundation to specifically examine the role of libraries and library workers in the context of antiracism work.

After his presentation, Dr. Jeffries will be in 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.

Click here to register. Registrants will be sent a zoom link via email in a few days prior to the event. A recording will be uploaded and available for viewing if you can’t make the live event.

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

Background photo in banner by Jerome Paulos.

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

Resources for Individual Antiracism Work


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.

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

Speakers like Kimberlé Crenshaw, Bryan Stevenson, and 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.


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.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.