USMAI Library Consortium's Executive Director Chuck Thomas distributed the following message to all staff at USMAI Member Libraries via Campus Contacts yesterday, June 3, 2020:
To All Staff in USMAI Member Libraries:
The leaders of the University System of Maryland and Affiliated Institutions are simultaneously shocked, heartbroken and angered by the events of the past week.
In a May 28th statement, the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA) condemned the unjustified and brutal killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and subsequent events as “the latest in a long line of recent and historical violence against Black people in the United States.” On Monday, the ALA Executive Board joined in solidarity with BCALA and with all library workers, library users, and members of the communities that libraries support who are susceptible to acts of prejudice, threats of violence, and even death based solely on their race or ethnicity. They reminded us that “the pervasive racism present in our nation denies its residents equal rights and equal access and as such is a barrier to the goals of this association and to the wider profession.” ALA called upon the wider library community to join BCALA in condemning these injustices, and in “working not only responsively, but also preemptively, to eradicate racism anywhere and everywhere it exists.” USMAI joins in that call.
Several weeks ago, the USMAI Library Consortium approved and released a Statement of Purpose, Guiding Principles, and Strategic Priorities. One core Guiding Principle is:
“Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion are fundamental values of the consortium and its members and are reflected in both the internal operations of each organization and in the resources and services provided to all users.”
The events of the past week are a reminder that we cannot assume these values are universally supported. As individuals and as a united group of institutions, , we must speak and act against hatred and racism. We must work to support and safeguard our vulnerable friends and co-workers within our own libraries, and throughout the communities we serve. We must seek social justice.
The USMAI Council of Library Directors and the consortium's staff express to all member library faculty and staff our continuing commitment to diversity and inclusion. We share the sorrow felt across the nation at this moment, and we offer help and support to all members of vulnerable minority groups. As a group, our organizations encourage those of you who may feel threatened or troubled to come to us if you need support. We encourage all staff to consider ways our libraries and our consortium can confront these threats to our society. Our library faculty and staff are our greatest assets. We will continue to support all of you in ways which reflect the shared values of our profession, and align with the missions and goals of our member institutions and campuses.
Thank you for your continuing work on behalf of our libraries and USMAI.
Executive Director, USMAI Library Consortium