It's always been my goal to make Burlington County Library System an organization that values people for who they are as well as an institution that celebrates diversity within our communities. This approach is rooted in everything we do, from the resources we make available to the programs we host, the people we help at our service desks and most importantly in the way we treat each other. And even though we can all strive for equity and fairness in our immediate world, it's not the case around us.
This is why recent events around the nation have been deeply disturbing. There is a harsh, cruel and dark reality in our black communities and we can no longer sit back and watch. The wound of racism has festered for hundreds of years and won’t go away until we make it go away, but we can’t do that until we have a better understanding of the realm of racial violence we live in.
The library has always been a place to learn and share experiences, and this is more vital now than ever before. Turning to books, movies and resources can help us better understand who we are as a nation and what led us here. This week my family and I watched Ava DuVernay’s 13th about mass incarceration and its culmination from the 13th Amendment. I am currently reading Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward a beautifully written story about a young black boy coming to terms with issues of love, family, incarceration and violence in rural Mississippi. I urge you to find a book or movie that you wouldn’t normally go to and learn about the systems of injustice we have in place. Racial disparities are real and it is on us to educate ourselves.
Our BCLS staff is working to put together resources and reading recommendations for library users of all ages to help start this process. Our hope is that these stories can help all of us to better understand experiences that may be unlike our own and push us to start new conversations. In the coming days and weeks I encourage you to visit our website and social media accounts for these suggestions and more.
Black lives matter and as a library we can play our small part by uncovering and promoting their stories.
Director, Burlington County Library System