Thank you for making “Talking Social Justice in MA Libraries” a success!

Our 2017 Spring Program, “Talking Social Justice in MA Libraries: From Diversity to Equity,” was a great success! We welcomed over 150 librarians from MA and beyond who came together to engage in an open dialog with colleagues and our … Continue reading

Somerville Public Library Declaration of Inclusion

This week, the MLS Community Engagement Blog features four stories of public libraries in Massachusetts demonstrating their commitment to social justice by creating declarations of inclusion. Our first story features an interview with Cathy Piantigini, Deputy Director of Libraries, at the Somerville Public Library. Make sure to also read the experiences of the Cambridge Public Library, Forbes Library, and Peabody Institute Library. Thank you to Cathy Piantigini, Maura McCauley, Lisa Downing, and Jennifer McGeorge for sharing their experiences!

Welcome to Somerville Sign

What generated your declaration of inclusion?

As a resident librarian of Somerville, I was acutely aware of the importance of highlighting the role our public libraries play in the daily lives of all of our patrons post-election 2016, when there were so many reports of people feeling unsafe and insecure going about their day-to-day. Somerville is very proud of its Sanctuary City status, and our Mayor is leading that pride, creating a municipal infrastructure to promote inclusion and tolerance, including organizing a rally in early February that highlighted the diversity of the city through guest speakers including ESL students from Somerville High, immigrant parents and business leaders; and community groups and agencies throughout Somerville that work with immigrant populations. He has also been featured in various media coverage about sanctuary cities. It was, and is, an important time for the library to be a part of the conversation.   Continue reading

Cambridge Public Library Declaration of Inclusion

Thank you to Maria McCauley, Director of Libraries of the Cambridge Public Library, for sharing her library’s experience with creating a declaration of inclusion.

Cambridge Public Library: Our Path Forward

What generated your declaration of inclusion?

Cambridge residents, library patrons and library staff were all talking about the Presidential election process and results and what this might mean for the country. We got the sense that people wanted and needed a place to explore, discuss and learn more about current issues, especially as they related to CPL’s core mission of serving everyone and promoting an inclusive environment and upholding the values of Cambridge as a Sanctuary City.

What process did you use to create, publish, and publicize your declaration?

The idea was discussed at a Library Trustees board meeting and the Library Director, Maria McCauley and Chairperson of the Board of Trustees, Janet Axelrod decided to co-author our statement. We also got input from several staff and stakeholders.

How did your community respond to your declaration of inclusion?

We continue to hear positive feedback from the public about our letter to the community. It was shared on social media and our related programs have been full houses. The recording of our kick off panel, “We the People: Local Voices Ask What Next?” has been viewed over 1300 times.” Additionally, it is a point of pride for staff.

What advice would you give to a library considering making a declaration of inclusion?

Don’t hesitate, rally, and be inclusive.

Anything else you would like to share?

We have been able to curate a popular and meaningful “Our Path Forward Series” based on the original declaration. It has brought community members together to learn, share, and reflect.

Interview with Maria McCauley, Director of Libraries, Cambridge Public Library

Learn more about upcoming Cambridge Public Library Our Path Forward Events

Forbes Library Declaration of Inclusion

Thank you to Lisa Downing, Director of the Forbes Library, for sharing her library’s experience with creating a declaration of inclusion.

Forbes Public Library Declaration of Inclusion

Forbes Public Library Declaration of Inclusion

What generated your declaration of inclusion?

We were inspired by the Jones Library in Amherst who shared a picture of a declaration they posted in connection with their ESL & Citizenship Center. It felt important for us to do and in keeping with a campaign slogan the library had developed a couple of years ago called “Forbes For All”. It was used for a fundraising campaign for a handicap accessible elevator project and summarized our intention that the library is for everyone. We kept the slogan after the campaign ended because it speaks to who we are as an institution and the vision we have to be a safe, welcoming and enriching place for everyone in the community.

What process did you use to create, publish, and publicize your declaration?

We used an oversized piece of foam core and hand wrote a statement along the top declaring our inclusion. We invited staff, trustees and friends to sign it. Shortly after it was published we had a visiting class from the nearby International Language Institute who noticed the sign. Their teacher mentioned that they were happy to see it because many of them were fearful about their reception in the US after hearing the news of the President’s stance and coverage of gun violence. We invited the students to write the word “welcome” in their native language along with their name and this completed the sign. We have the sign posted in the front lobby where hundreds of people walk by every day. Continue reading